W.I.P. Wednesday : The finished, the planned and the in-progress…

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This is an extra-large serving of W.I.P.ness, so grab a little cup of tea and here we go!

The finished : Staring here is good, helps me to feel like I’ve accomplished something!

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Here are the carp I told you about here. Love them. I hope my nephew does, too.

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He’s quite a sketcher (I sent him the watercolour-pencil roll for Christmas) so I thought a blank notebook would suit him. I also made him a black denim pouch to slip the notebook and some pencils in, in case he wants to do a little field work (ok, this is a bad inside joke because he lives on a farm. Sorry.)

It’s also my niece’s birthday soon, so here are her goodies :

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The little dude’s antenna/hat isn’t sewn on yet in this photo, but I assure you, it has since been sewn on and they are on their way to the U.S. along with this :

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…a little felty pouch (decorated with ribbon on the other side) and a heart pin because they are so cute I’m making them for everyone! I used this felt, and for the butterflies I used this adorable pattern from Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls fame. I just noticed she’s having a doll giveaway today – go throw your name in the virtual hat!.

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This was one of the first patterns I ever ordered (about 9 months ago), but this is the first time I’ve used it. I have a feeling I’ll be making more of these in the future they are so sweet. And springy.

Oh, and a new pincushion, because I just love making these little cuties!

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and the other side, so you can see my wonky stitching.

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Now, the in-progress :

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Another one of these dolls. This is for a “new” baby (she’s already 3 weeks old – aak!). She’s mostly done – just need to sew her hair ribbon on and get her limbs attached. Have you ever noticed the less you have to do to finish a project, the more difficult it is psychologically to get it done? Or is it just me?

I started this last night for the talented Tacha :

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Lucky me gets to test another pattern for her! This is going to be adorable – I’ll hopefully have it ready for show & tell by Friday! She has the best stuff in her shop – go check it out!

The planned :

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard of the terrible fires in Australia, killing so many – humans and animals – and destroying everything in sight. I wanted to so something, so I donated what I could, but still felt like I wasn’t doing anything. Then, the aforementioned Tacha told me about The Bushfire Quilt Project. Tia Curtis, an American quilter living in Australia, is rounding-up quilt blocks from all over the globe and with the help of local quilters, they are creating quilts for families who lost everything in this tragedy. If your life has ever been touched by fire, you know the devastation of completely starting over. These quilts may not be much, but they are a start, and a great way to show some global solidarity to our Australian friends.

That’s great, Shellyfish, but I don’t know how to quilt. Well, guess what? Neither do I! But I’m committing to making at least a few of these Wonky Stars thanks to the tutorial. My biggest obstacle is an anemic fabric stash, but I’m hoping to get some scraps organized Friday. Here’s The Bushfire Quilt Project Flickr Group if you want to be inspired. Doing what you can makes such a big difference, be it 2 or 50 squares. Others are sending quilting supplies to help out. Just wanted to spread the word, and thanks to Tacha for sharing the links with me!

And to finish, behold! Guppy’s new dress, er, dress fabric :

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Ok, this fabric is just dreamy. It has such a great feel and weight to it. Yum. We don’t have a fabric store in town, but there is a vendor who comes to the marché twice a week. The up-side is he often has designer remnants at great prices. The down-side is that you can’t buy the amount you’d like – you’re stuck with whatever size the remnant is – be it a half meter or 3 meters. It’s a good thing in this case because I got nearly 3 meters for 10E which is just super exciting!

I wish I were only 4 and could have a dress, too. Ok, no, when I was 4 I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress. But Guppy is rather excited about it, probably because she doesn’t have any cold-weather dresses so it seems special. I’m excited because I’ve never made a dress before. So much excitement.

Speaking of excitement, next week’s W.I.P. will have our Wipster of the Month interview and we’ll also have our March Stitch-Along – I bet you just can’t wait! Try to satisfy your curiosity by visitng the other Wipsters to see what they are up to this week, and don’t forget the W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Group, too!

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Eco-Crafters Unite! I L-O-V-E The Kunin Group & their “Ecospun” cruelty-free felt!

WOW! I have been overwhelmed by emails asking me for details on the cruelty-free, super “Green” (with a capital G) felt I mentioned in this week’s W.I.P. Wednesday post. I feel so popular!

I was so excited when I saw all the email love, some from people who were interested in the cruelty-free crafting possibilities, and others who wanted more info on the “recycled” aspect of this medium. To quote an emailer “this sounds a little too good to be true.”

Yet it is true.

To create those delicious-looking donuts, and these heart pins, and many other gifts & crafts, I used “Rainbow Classicfelt” from The Kunin Group. Go check out their website because I think it’s just amazing the different kinds of felt they offer, and all of it created from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles!

I first discovered this amazing felt last year when my mum brought me a bag of crafting supplies from America when she came for a visit. I’d found some polyester crafting felt here in France, but I didn’t like the feel of it. She’d stumbled upon some various felt squares and saw they were wool free so grabbed a few colours for me.

Love at first stitch! Or cut, I could say. While it isn’t as dense as traditional wool felt, it has a lovely feel and is wonderful for bags like these :

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or other projects like this :

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When I was in the U.S. on vacation this past summer I bought nearly an entire suitcase full of Kunin Group felt (yes, nearly an entire bag full. You should have seen the look on Monsieur Fish’s face when he saw that). I bought mine at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I know many of you are in Canada and Europe, so don’t fret. Visit their Where To Buy page – there are lots of locations around the world…though none in France. Snif.

I would just love to get my hands on some of their Plush Felt which I couldn’t find at last summer. It is all plushy and soft and would be perfect for making softies and little stuffed animals, which are going to be de rigueur with Spring Solstice and other such holidays approaching.

So there you go! Vegan crafting at it’s best!

Happy Mail post coming next, promise!

W.I.P. Wednesday : Sugar Free, Fat Free, Calorie Free Donuts! A tutorial…

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I know what you’re thinking : With a title like that, there’s got to be a catch. You’re right.

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I’d been wracking my little brain (ouch!), trying to think of something to make for my Pay It Forward (PIF) winners. It’s not easy knowing what to send someone you know without really knowing them outside of their blog lives. I considered making handbags, but not knowing their individual tastes, didn’t want to send something in their least favourite colour, or something that would sit in a closet forever. The only real criteria for the PIF gifts were that they be vegan and handmade.

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Enter the donuts! As I was thinking of goodies to add to their parcels, I thought of making a treat to send, but was concerned that even though they weren’t leaving the European Union, cookies could be crushed or frosting smudged, etc. by they time they arrived at destination. I’d made some felt food for Guppy to play with, and while she was setting up a little tea party for us one day, I thought felt donuts would be the ticket!

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Please do note that this felt is indeed vegan : made with post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, we’re cruelty-free and lessening the environmental impact by using a recycled medium. Woot!

Would you like to make some donuts? It’s really very easy, though it is a little more time consuming if you stitch your “sprinkles” on. I set this up assembly-line style and it was a fun little project. I can hardly take credit for these – felt food has been around since I was little (Regan child. No, ketchup is not a vegetable. Shudder), and I’ve seen felt donuts in felt food packs for kids, on the net, etc. If you do decide to use this tutorial to make donuts that you’ll be selling, please remember me when you’re rich and famous!

Let’s begin! First you’ll need some felt. I chose two colours of brown for the “cake” part – so we have regular and chocolate flavours, and some assorted colours for your glazes :

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You’ll also need the following :

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Thread, pins, beads for your “sprinkles”, something to trace your donut shape (I used a CD, a canning lid or something similar would obviously work, too, but would indeed be less musical), a needle, an exacto-knife or rolling cutter, scissors and maybe even a self-healing mat if you have one (a clean cutting board works ok, too).

First : Trace your basic donut shape in the darker felt. Don’t forget, you’ll need two pieces per pastry. I made a dozen, so that meant 24 pieces (my math skillz are amazing, n’est-ce pas?).

Next :

use-a-spool-to-trace-your-centreYou can use a spool to trace the outline of the centre. Don’t worry too much about this if your circle isn’t perfect -it’s going to look beautiful once it’s sewn up. Do try to cut two at a time, though, makes matching them up later a wee bit easier.

Now : (night was falling, so sorry for the flashy-blek.)

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Whip out that CD again and trace your glaze colours. You can be traditional or get crazy – these are your donuts and they are your art!

Ensuite : (which means next, but I already said that above)

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You’ll want to cut along the outer edge of your glazes to give them a drippy look. I just weaved in and out with my scissors. Again, if it looks funky don’t worry – it’ll be sweet as can be once it’s all stitched together.

Let’s Sew!

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You can proceed a number of different ways – I tried doing things in different orders because I’m curious like that – but this is the order that I found worked best pour moi. Begin by sewing the outer edge of your glaze to the top layer of your donut. Try to centre the glaze on the donut, and if the holes don’t perfectly match up it’s ok, you can trim them to match in the next step. It’s more important that your glaze is centered over the donut right now.

You might want to pin the glaze on before doing this to keep it in place, or maybe you’re a renegade and you scoff at my idées bourgeoises – best translated as playing square or safe. Anyway, you can whip stitch (I did) or straight stitch this part. Youtube has great videos to show you what that means if you don’t know. I didn’t know a year ago, so don’t worry, it’s cool. You’re cool. I said so.

Sammich time!

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It’s time to stitch all three layers together via the centre. If the three holes don’t match up well (ahem, at all), fear not. You can trim them to fit, just don’t cut too far into your donut or you’ll end up with an onion ring, which is tasty, but not what we’re going for here (but what a great idea! And fries, too! Yes!). Be sure and sew through all three layers using a nice, tight whip stitch.

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If you’re stitching looks like your 3-year-old did it (see above) don’t worry a bit! It’s going to look just lovely when it’s stuffed. Promise!

Sprinkles!

What’s a donut without sprinkles? A naked donut, and I’ll have no nudity on this blog! I used beads, however, if you’re planning on making these for small children, animals, or batty adults, you may want to consider just using embroidery to embellish. Do that now, because the layers are open and it’ll be easier. Let me know when you’re done.

Closing Time!

I had a picture of this, but it was terrible, so it didn’t make the cut. You don’t really need one, though. Just try to match up the outer edges of your donut, and whip stitch them together, leaving a small hole so you can stuff it with polyfill. I used a chopstick (see Katie, I can use chopsticks, too!) to push the polyfill around. If your edges don’t perfectly match up, it’s really ok, just slide them forward or back so that they do – once you’ve added the stuffing you won’t be able to tell.

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See how easy that was? And fun, too! Now go make a guilt-free dozen!

Don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

I’ve received some most excellent Happy Mail in the past two weeks and I will be posting about it soon! I’m totally behind, but please super-cool sender-people, don’t think your mail didn’t rock my socks – my next post is all about you!

W.I.P. Round-Up

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I do hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had a special day with a pancake breakfast (Peanut butter pancakes, a test recipe for Joni & Celine for 500 Vegan Recipes, yummers!), hanging around in our p.j.’s and eating left-over queso-free queso dip and nachos – while still in aforementioned pajamas – for lunch (also à la 500 Vegan Recipes), and some vegan sushi take-out. We also watched a fun movie to round out heart day – I’m not a big romantic comedy fan in general, but if you get a chance to see Prête moi ta main (the English title is I do) you should, because it was cute, funny and the kind of movie you could easily pause the four or five times it was necessary to re-tuck Guppy in after two false-alarm potty visits, a night-light check, a tissue emergency and a “one last kiss” visit. That’s what you get for feeding your 3 year-old too many starches and letting her hang out in her jammies all day. But who knows?

Enough about my domestic bliss (ahem), let’s take a peek at what the Wipsters have been up to!

I consider myself so lucky to be (virtually) surrounded by such talent and craftiness! Just take a look at these great projects :

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Carmen made a cute little red softie doll for her daughter. I’m thinking she likes it :

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Krys made two adorable stuffies for her “two vegan boys”

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Aren’t they cute? (I mean the boys!)

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Amanda’s pillow is just gorgeous (that back fabric is so cheerful!).

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This patchwork-style pillow Natalia made for her daughter is precious! I love the buttons on the back , too :

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Beth made a mini-softie (you can see it here)

and here are my final creations :
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This is Guppy’s Valentine’s Day pillow, which was indeed an eleventh hour project. I embroidered her name (the yellow splotches…because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!) and there is also purple ribbon on the back. She really liked it, and we all had to “test it”, which was fun.

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This smaller version was part of a Valentine’s Day-themed package for my sister’s birthday. I definitely think the ribbon was a good idea when I see how plain-Jane this first one is.

This Stitch-Along has been fun, and I’ve already had a few suggestions for March. If you have an idea for a Stitch-Along project, you can email me at fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com – there is so much out there, any and all ideas are appreciated!

Don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool if you didn’t get your pictures to me in time, or if you’d just like to share what you’ve been up to on Wednesdays!

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Felty Heart Pins, Pin Cushions & Stitch-Along Progress

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Hello Crafties! It’s already Wednesday, can you believe it? I am losing the battle to stay on top of things, so I’ve decided to stop fighting and just be like water and flow! Woosh!

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Have you seen this Valentine Pins tutorial? I’ve been making tons of these cuties. Most everyone I would usually make sweet heart-shaped sugar cookies for is watching their weight, so rather than taunt them with pink royal icing and cookie love I think I’ll give them some sweet (and calorie-free) crafty love instead. These are really easy and fun, and gratifying for those moments when you feel like you want to complete a project. Of course I don’t know what that’s all about…

One thing that’s been occupying my time has been these :

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These pin cushions are really fun to make, and a wonderful way to use those favourite fabric scraps that are too cute to end up into the “scrap bag”. I’m also really loving the unique vibe they each have, which is why I love giving them as little gifts. No two look alike, though they may share similar DNA. Or weave. Whatever.

I’ve been so busy playing making the cushions o’ pins, that my Love Bear progress, well, isn’t. Progressing I mean. I’m down to the wire with my last one (ie: it’s hardly started) so if you’re not quite done, you’re in good company. But hey, Valentine’s Day is Saturday, and it’s only Wednesday, so there’s still tons of time left to get stitching, right? If you’ve been stitching along with us and would like to have your little Love Bear included in the W.I.P. Stitch-Along round-up on the 14th, just drop me a line with a link to your blog, your blog name and a photo! Voila!

I’m super excited about next week’s W.I.P. post because it’s a fun tutorial that I can’t wait to share with you! I just need to be patient and hold tight until these three P.I.F. winners receive their goody bags. Don’t want to spill the beans or anything. (Katie and Trina, once you’ve chosen your P.I.F. winners I’ll send you some goodies, too!). And I’ll be having yet another P.I.F. drawing soon because I am a lucky ducky and won yet another P.I.F. drawing! Betcha can’t wait?!?

The Wipster List is growing! If you’d like to play along, just leave me a comment here and snag yourself a beautiful logo à la VeganLovlie. Also, don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Group - show us your gorgeous masterpieces! You know you want to! Don’t be shy, this is fun for everyone!

Crafty Valentine’s Day Ideas!

Ok kids, you’ve got less than a week to make a few bobbles of love to share (along with smooches and dark chocolate of course). These are a few rather fun ideas I’ve come across in blogland. I hope they’ll help inspire you, too
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Learn to make a cute (and easy) heart-shaped pom-poms at Zakka Life. I think these are an adorable way to decorate a little gift using some scrappy yarn, or would make a great little valentine in their own right!

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Check out Molly’s Sketchbook over at the Pearl Bee to make these adorable fabric window valentine’s. I still have a few I need to make…

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Also found at Purl Bee, these Sewn Paper Valentines. This tute will have you making you own beautiful valentines in no time at all! I think there is something so cool about sewing paper with the sewing machine…I feel like someone is going to come and scold me or something. I also totally admit to having a nerd crush on Molly and I want to be as clever as she is some day!

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I know not everyone has the inclination or the supplies to sew. No problemo, amigos! How about a no-sew garland? This is a great idea and it looks like fun – and it’s an opportunity to use a hot glue gun which is always fun, really. Visit Fiona at Scraps in Progress to see how!

Stay tuned for a “Sunday Dinners” post tomorrow featuring a recipe for “Divine Lemon Scones” (no those weren’t dinner, but they could have been) and more “food court”esque Chinese food.

Also, I know I’m behind on emails, comments, etc. Fear not, I still love you, just need a little catching up time! :)

W.I.P. Wednesday – Get Your Logo! Featured Wipster Vegan Lovlie

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I am so excited to share this gorgeous W.I.P. Wednesday logo with you! The wonderful and talented Lovliebutterfly – or just Lovlie as she’s known by her Internet friends – of the beautiful Veganlovlie blog, did a fantastic job capturing the spirit of our W.I.P. philosophy and I am sincerely touched by her generosity. Stop by the W.I.P. Wednesday main page to get your shiny new banner for your W.I.P. posts or snag a logo to sport proudly in your sidebar – it is a must this season, just so you know. Just scroll down to the bottom of the W.I.P. List and you’ll see the link.

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Because part of what I love about W.I.P. Wednesday is “meeting” and getting to know you better, I’ll be featuring a W.I.P. participant, or Wipster, once a month on W.I.P. Wednesday. We are such a diverse group of bloggers, I’m hoping that these mini Wipster interviews will be an opportunity to learn just a bit about who you are, what motivates and inspires you, and some quirky fun facts about you as well (that’s my favourite part.) Would you like to be a featured Wipster? Don’t be shy – send me an email & let me know!

To honor my Patron Saint of Graphic Design, I’d like to kick-off our Wipster interviews with Lovlie. Here’s the scoop in her own words…

I’ve basically been a Graphic/Web Designer after doing a Multimedia course in Melbourne Australia. I’ve worked in a number of companies and also as a freelancer. I love to work in the fashion field very much! This is my area of preference. I was an Image Retoucher/Designer at ASOS.com in London. This was my biggest experience. I am currently extending my skills to Business and Web Programming, hence doing an eBusiness course in Dublin at the moment. So, I presently do temporary/freelance/part-time jobs mostly. And of course, I enjoy cooking and posting recipes and reading other people’s blogs like everyone on the blogsphere. Photographing the meals is an interesting part of blogging too!

Lovlie’s 5 Fascinating Facts :

  1. I’ve been vegan for nearly 2 years (It’s been the best years of my life so far! I mean it’s great to actually create and eat real food!)
  2. I always have to wear my left pant leg, sock, shoe etc first. It has to be the left foot first! Otherwise I feel something isn’t quite right after I am dressed!
  3. I have a sweet tooth!
  4. My favourite fruit: pineapple
  5. I am a late sleeper, like very late. I don’t recall the last time I went to sleep before midnight. And I only need six hours sleep to be refreshed, up and going.

Visit VeganLovlie for some delicious vegan recipes and to soak up some of her sensational style and do check out her online portfolio for more inspiration and delicious eye candy!

Stitch-Along Update:

Don’t forget, if you’d like your Love Bear Stitch-Along project to be part of the little round-up on February 14th, please be sure to send me an email with your link and an optional photo before February 12th at midnight.

Here’s my little Love Bear pillow :

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This little guy needs a little more pizazz I think, but it’s too late as he’s ready to fly over the ocean. I’m  making one for Guppy for Valentine’s Day, so I’ll play with that one a bit more.

Don’t forget about the W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr group if you’d like to share your progress with everyone, too!

I’m working on some fun tutorials for upcoming W.I.P.s so stay tuned!

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Stitch-Along Progress & more

Exciting news! One of the most lovely vegan graphic artists, Lovlie of Veganlovlie is creating a fabulous W.I.P. logo and web button that you can add to you blog and feel super-cool (because you are!). We should have them ready for next week – how cool is that?

Stitch-Along check-in : How is your Love Bear coming along? I am, true to form, juggling four or five projects at once, and so haven’t finished my first bear project for the stitch-along. Almost done.

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Like the wrinkles? Just ask Monsieur Fish to come “pick up” around your house. He’ll pile everything from your craft table on top of your W.I.P. to help you “straighten up”. The wrinkles are just extra. Sigh.

unstuffed-pillowUnstuffed pillow love…

I’d like to make two of these little “love pillows”, so I need to get cracking. Or, stitching I should say. I’m not thrilled with the way the eyes turned out on this one, and I think I’ll do my second one differently. I’m also thinking some lace or some some ribbon or something would make the love pillow a little fancier. This one is going to be part of a (late) birthday package for one of my sweet sisters.

Don’t forget, I’ll be posting a round-up of all the Love Bear Stitch-Along projects on February 14th, so if you’d like to be a part of the round-up love, just email me a link to your posted project and a photo, too if you’d like.

Here’s a little peak at one of my newest hobbies – the rectangle pin cushion.

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I’m almost obsessed, but in a healthy “look at me using up my cute fabric scraps” way. My Auntie Martha (who was actually my great-aunt, but in my family you’re just an Aunt or an Uncle) was the only crafty-stitchy person I had contact with as a child. She was DIY before it was trendy, (you know, back when it was just common sense), and she re-used and recycled everything.

One of my favourite things to “play” with at her house was her collection pin cushions. In all shapes and sizes, they were most often made of fabric odds and ends, bottle caps, bits of this and that. I hadn’t thought of her pin cushions in ages, but when I began playing with this corduroy and pink velour – boom!

pincushion2Sorry about the wonky photos – I’m actually leaning out my window to get a little light! Rain, rain, go away!

This little pin cushion is on it’s way…somewhere…

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…accompanied by a sweet and a book. Carmen’s book “exchange mates” will be unveiled on February 14th – what suspense! I just love surprises, so I’m totally into this! My only fear – the glue on the handmade card I included in the package wasn’t 100% dry…I hope it makes it ok!

The W.I.P. List continues to grow! If you’d like to be a member of the elite, sophisticated and creative W.I.P. Team (tee hee), than just link back to the W.I.P. Wednesday page and leave me a comment. I’ll add you on quick as a cat can wink its eye! (Wow! That’s fast!)

And thank you to the ever-so-sweet Amanda of Walking The Vegan Line fame for bringing W.I.P. Wednesday to Flickr. She’s just kicked off our Flickr group, so you can add your W.I.P. Pics to Flickr!

W.I.P. Wednesday – Let’s Have A Valentine’s Day Stitch-Along! Basic Embroidery Tutorial & Recycled Valentine’s Day

Ok, it doesn’t have to be for Valentine’s Day, but this cute little project does lend itself well to the upcoming holiday!

Because we can’t craft together in real life (unless you care to share the secrets of teleportation that is), my lovely friend Krys of Two Vegan Boys suggested we do a stitch-along. I loved the idea, and we thought you might want to join the fun!

True to the W.I.P. Wednesday philosophy, this is just a no-pressure way to “virtually” craft together in a fun, supportive and happy place. Have a question? You’re welcome to comment me a question and I’ll try to help. Never threaded a needle but feel inclined to give it a try? Fear not! Below you will hopefully find all the information you need to get started on a very basic embroidery project.

Krys found a cute (but not cutesy) free pattern from artist Andrea Zulli’s blog Badbird’s : Musings of a small angry bird. She also has the most beautiful prints in her Etsy Shop, Badbird. Wow!

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Click on that little bear and you’ll find yourself chez Andrea where you can get your crafty hands on this free download – and many others! Andrea is a generous artist and has many free patterns.

Now that you have your pattern, what would you like to do with your finished project? You could make a Valentine’s Day card, stitch it on a t-shirt or other clothing, offer your framed embroidery as a gift to someone special… The size of your project will determine if you need to enlarge or shrink your pattern before beginning. I’m going to use this to make a little pillow as a gift, so the size of my “Love Bear” is based on that.

Needlework is a great craft when you’re on a budget because you don’t need much to get started!

You’ll need :

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The printed “Love Bear”, some masking or painter’s tape and an embroidery pen. These pens have “disappearing ink”, which is pretty groovy for tracing patterns onto fabric (which you also need). I don’t want to be kicked out of the “Crafty Club”, but above is a light pencil, because I don’t have an embroidery pen and this has been working really well for me -just be careful to keep your lines thin!

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You’ll also need some embroidery floss! This “thread” is usually composed of multiple strands -most often 6. You can use more or less of them, but for beginners, it’s usually easier to work with all 6. You’ll be using short lenghs of thread, so hold it between your thumb and pointer finger and you’ll want it a little shorter than your forearm (any longer and it’s apt to tangle up). Floss is most often cotton, but Vegans beware of wool floss which is also available.

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Don’t forget an embroidery hoop to hold your work taut while your stitching – this will prevent puckering. If you stitch on a stiffer fabric, you won’t need one.

needles

You’ll want an embroidery needle – its bigger eye (the better to see you with!) is easier to thread with embroidery floss. Here you see the difference between a sewing needle and the larger needlepoint counterpart.

To thread your needle, pass the floss through the eye, but don’t knot the two ends as you would with regular thread. Leave a shorter “tail” of thread on one side, the longer section on the other. Normally with embroidery you don’t knot the long end of your floss, but you’re a beginner and it’s totally ok!

Now you need to transfer your pattern to your fabric. Here’s how :

tape-to-window

Tape your “Love Bear” to a window

fabriconpattern

Next secure your fabric over the pattern. You may want to tape the sides, too, because you’ll be tracing the pattern and you don’t want your fabric slishing about!

in-the-hoop

Once your pattern is traced on your fabric you’re ready to start stitching! How exciting is that! You’re about to embark on a fun project with blogger peeps, right on!

There are loads of different embroidery stitches, and a google search or a trip to YouTube will give you many stitchy options. I’m going to show you how to do a split-stitch, one of the most common and versitile there is. You can easily complete this and many other projects using only the split-stich, so here we go:

firststitch

1) To begin, bring your needle up through the fabric from back to front.

secondstitch

2) Now bring the needle back down just in front of where you came up.

third-stitch

3) Now bring your needle up through the fabric in the middle of your first stitch. Try to bring it up in the centre of your floss. For example, if you’re using six-strand floss, ideally it would come up with three strands on each side. This is something you can play with depending on the look you want, but for today let’s stick to the basics.

fourthstitch

4) Here you’re going to do what you did in step 2 – just bring the needle down in front of your stitch.

finished-stitches

Here’s what 4 stitches look like. You’re creating a kind of “chain” if you will, each stitch connected to the next.

And there you have it! I hope this is helpful and will encourage you to give it a try! My big disclamer is that I’ve only been practicing embroidery for about 6 months and much of the jargon I’ve learned has been in French, so if you see errors or if something isn’t clear don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll fix it up tout de suite! (That’s right away for you kids playing at home!).

Don’t forget to visit the other W.I.P. participants to see what they’re up to! If you’d like to join the W.I.P. list, to share your stitch-along progress or share your other projects, just let me know!

UPDATE : I’ll be posting a finished-project round-up on Valentine’s Day, so be sure and send me your links!

recycled-heart-button

If you’re looking for some crafty ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts? Do you want to avoid buying more paper and plastic junk that will end up in the trash? Then visit Ellen at The Long Thread. She’s running a Recycled Valentine’s Day series with weekly links and ideas for great handmade gifts without adding more plastic and junk to our landfills.

Birthday Recap Time, Kids!

Thank you from the bottom of my little vegan heart for all of your love, electronic and virtual well wishes and other forms of birthday cheer. Birthdays are generally a very big deal for us- we normally celebrate “Birthday Girl (or Boy) Week”, but it’s been a bumpy little time here in Fishland, and my birthday was all but brushed under the rug – until some super friends and blogging buddies like YOU came along to make me feel all special and stuff. I won’t blather on, just know that I feel so grateful for you all. (Snif, snif).

It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake, right?

vwav-carrot-cake

This scrumptious carrot cake from Vegan With A Vengeance has been all over the blogosphere of late. I’m usually a lemon cake or tofu cheese cake kind of gal, but when I saw Virginia’s carrot cake from VWAV last week, I gave into the peer pressure. Know why I’ve never made it? I can’t find vegan cream cheese here, and I didn’t want to make it without “right” frosting! Sillyfish. I opted for an almond & coconut buttercream, which wasn’t too shabby. I added about 1/2 cup crushed pineapple to the cake (because for me, if a carrot cake is sans pineapple, it’s just a wanna-be) and used a little less pineapple juice – it worked out just splendidly!

Now for the gifts!

stylish-dress1

I asked Monsieur Fish for this Japanese Couture book from Pomodor24 (Highly recommend her! She has a shop on Etsy, too). He seemed incredulous and felt obliged to remind me I don’t read Japanese, but when I insisted that I’d be able to understand the diagrams and patterns, and that many other stitchy folks who lacked the Japanese skillz managed to sew some beautiful dresses from this book so why not me, he did acquiesce (though I didn’t know it! I was indeed a happysurprisedfish when I opened the mail). Look at how beautiful some of these are!

stylish-dress2

stylish-dress3

Now I just need to find me some perdy fabric and I will be all over this! That being said, have any of you made anything from this book? Cause, you know, it’s in Japanese! Ahem. I’ll figure it out, duh! (whispers: but you can email me if you’ve made something so I can see it on your blog & bug you with questions, right?). Whew.

And you need these to cut fabric for a new dress, right?

moms-gift

My sweet parents sent me these! They actually came in a few days before my birthday (meaning I’ve been able to use them) and man, they cut through four layers of cordoroy like non-dairy buttah, baby! Just shows you, getting by with any old tool is possible, but using the right tool for the job makes it so much easier!

I also received two very surprise gifts which made me feel so special!

new-crewel1A book, the new crewel : Excuisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery by Katherine Shaughnessy. I made my way to the mail box thinking I’d find the light bill, but instead was this lovely book sent by my sweet friend Natalia!

crewel2

crewel3

My other suprise gift was a book card! Everybody’s favourite Texas Vegan Mum Krys, and her Two Vegan Boys, Arthur and Adam sent me a gift certificate so I can treat myself to one of my very favourite things – a book!

I am so moved by the friendships that have grown out of our little blogging community, and Natalia and Krys, you are both so special to me! And you made me feel special – hey, come on, group hug everyone! Thank you!