Saturday, December 01, 2007

good news and bad news

The good news - I got accepted into Bust's Holiday Craftacular! Bust is a magazine I've subscribed to for about five years. For the last three years, they've thrown a huge holiday craft fair in New York City. Thousands of vendors apply and they accept about 200. I'm pretty proud of myself.

The bad news - I've been in the hospital for a month and couldn't possibly make it to New York next week. I don't even know if I'll be out of the hospital next week. I think most of the folks that read my blog have already heard about the hospital stay, but just in case - we're stuck in Berkeley. I've got pancreatitis and had my gall bladder removed on Wednesday. Good times. Perhaps I'll post a longer update later, but there's some hospital-made chicken pot pie waiting for me now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

more Japanesey goodness

My friend Caleb saw the birdy tote I made and complimented me on it. Lorne told him I made it, and he asked if I could make something similar for his girlfriend Swati. We emailed back and forth, and eventually settled on the colors and fabric for the bag.

If this looks familiar, it's because I used the red/blue/gold version of this fabric on Heidi's tote. I'm becoming a superfan of the Japanese fabric. Tia's rose tote fabric is from the same designer. The colors are really nice, it holds its shape well. It's lovely.

Yet another pocket design...but I'm settling. Soon. Before tote bag mass production week. I swear.

Also, I spazzed out while making this. I completely forgot to do a little cutout on the vinyl, one of the things Caleb really liked on my bag and specifically asked for on Swati's. So I showed him the pictures above and he said, so very politely, "So, is it still possible to do a cutout?" Then I slapped my forehead. I told him of course, and then sat down to figure out if I should rip the entire bag apart, remake it, or try to cut on to the finished bag.

I opted for cutting the finished bag. After I did this, I freaked out. What was I thinking? There's no way I'll be able to hold the fabric in place under the vinyl, and how will I get a needle in there without sewing the lining to the back of the vinyl? HOW WILL I DO THIS??? Upon me freaking out and throwing things, Lorne suggested I get an upholstery needle. WHAT THE HELL IS AN UPHOLSTERY NEEDLE LORNE?!!?!?!

As you can see, it's curved. So I could stick the needle in the front and poke it back out the front without it ever going through the lining. Thank you Lorney for saving the day (and thank you for putting up with your hormonal, mood-swinging wife). Once I got going with this, it worked pretty well. Not as well as making the cutout before the bag is assembled, but better than taking the entire thing apart and starting over.

Caleb liked it when he came to pick it up a few days ago (enough to model it for us...I'll upload those pictures later and share), but more importantly, Swati likes it. She sent me an excited text message after she got it. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

short update

Before I mailed Tia's tote out, I took a much better picture of it than the ones below. Hooray daylight!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

blue peonies tote

This is one of the first non-ordered bags I've had the chance to complete in a little while. I'm not usually a pretty flowers and pastels sort of girl - I like bold, bright colors - but I really liked this fabric. The flowers are large enough that they don't really work well as an inner lining, so I decided to use it on a tote bag.

hanging from our curtain rod

I'm still experimenting with the pockets for these bags. I'll settle on one actual design in the next few weeks. This one has one large pocket and one smaller, rectangular pocket. As you can see, the stripes on the pockets are horizontal, while the rest of the lining is vertical. I feel this will help you dig through the pockets with more ease. Or maybe I just liked how it looked.


I have a pink version of this fabric, which I will make into a pink peonies tote soon. The parts that are gray on the blue one are brown on the pink one, so I'm waiting for the chocolate brown vinyl I ordered to arrive before I start it.

Also, I'm putting my nose to the grindstone and building inventory up for Penguinbot over the next few weeks. This week is coin purse week, next week is knit bag week, and the following week is tote bag week. Knit bag week might go quickly, since I have most everything knit up and cut out may turn into vinyl clutch week halfway through. Though I still need to carve out the handles for the knit clutches, so maybe it won't. I'll keep you posted.

hanging out on the storage dresser

P.S. I applied to be a vendor in a rather large craft fair last night, and the fabulous Dr. Lorney put up a gallery on the Penguinbot website so the craft fair people could look at things I've done. If you'd like to poke around Penguinbot to see what there is to see, feel free. The mailing list feature doesn't work yet, so don't spend hours trying to sign up. YOU CAN'T YET. When there is more inventory in my finished projects drawer, we'll likely launch the site and the gallery will turn into the shop.

Monday, October 15, 2007

kid stuff

My niece, Emma, turns three at the end of the month, and she's outgrown her crib. She already has a big girl bed at home, but now she's getting one at my mom's house too. My mom let me know that the room will have Sesame Street sheets (and maybe bedding, I can't remember). So I went on a search for some Sesame Street fabric. The only place I found it was on Ebay.

Sesame Street pillow

I can't really handle Elmo...he drives me up the wall. (I prefer Grover, who sadly isn't on this fabric. Poor Grover.) And even worse is Zoe, the orange thing with the little bows - she just whines all the time. But at least I didn't have to listen to Elmo or Zoe while sewing this.

Elmo purse

I didn't see me using this fabric for much else after Emma's birthday, and I had some more Sesame Street fabric after I cut out the pillow pieces, so I made Emma an Elmo purse.

Elmo purse innards

I didn't get too fancy with the lining on this. I doubt Emma is going to miss extras like pockets. She's 3, what could she possibly have to carry? But I did add a little snap so the bag will stay closed if she puts something heavy in it that makes it lose its shape.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

world's worst photographer strikes again

I think my problem might be that I take all my pictures when I finish sewing something, later at night, when there is only weird artificial apartment light. I finished Tia's tote bag last night and was really happy with how it turned out. Then I looked at the pictures. It looks so much darker than it does in person.

The red roses are really much brighter than they is the vinyl.

This one is a little better at showing the roses.

The lining picture did turn out well though, and you can see the vinyl color better on that inch of strap. One out of three isn't bad is it? Oh wait, yes it is. I need to not work during the day so I can take better pictures.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

chianti clutch

Alishan asked if I could make a clutch similar to the one I made for Nicole, but a little darker.

So the yarn color on this one is called chianti. Oh wine. I'm going to miss you for the next nine months.

Somehow when I was cutting out the fabric for the innards, I cut two of them. Why? I have no idea. I've been making this bag/variations on this bag for about year now, but this is the first time I've done something so off. At least I just have an extra and didn't cut it half-sized or something instead. I'm going to blame little Hobo for sucking the smart out of my brains. (Hobo is our embryo...our friends are planning on teaching it the hobo ways, and I've eaten a lot of beef stew since finding out I was pregnant.)

I really need to learn about taking better pictures. These look sad compared to Kyle's pictures below.

I'm sorry if this blog seems a little disjointed. Again, I blame Hobo.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

two things

Thing the First: Kyle took some awesome pictures today and sent them to me. I thought I'd pimp them out here, because I'm amazed at how much better his pictures make my things look. He does have a photography degree and all.

Heidi's bag

Heidis' bag detail

blue arrow bag

blue arrow bag with fancy background

green clutch

green clutch detail

Thing the Second: Upon finding out that I'm pregnant, I immediately bought a pregnancy encyclopedia thing, and this:

Aside from the cute knit bear on the front, it has some good nursery and sweater patterns, including a cupcake hat and scarf and knit cupcakes. As soon as I saw those I knew this book was meant to be mine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

hey there, cupcake

Bethany and I are kindred spirits. She crochets, I knit, she wants a sewing machine, I was obsessed with getting one until I got mine, we both like baseball, she used to drive a dark blue New Beetle and I currently drive a dark blue New Beetle, we love beer...we both like soup...

cupcake bag!

Most importantly, however, we both love cupcakes. When she asked for a red bag I didn't think at all about how that would affect my plan to use a bit of red vinyl for a cherry at the top...until I had everything cut out. Red vinyl cherry on red vinyl bag = cherry disappears. So I found a red button. Viola!

cupcake bag innards

Bethany and I both like talking, and not talking. We could not talk for hours, and still find things to not talk about.

cupcake close-up

Maybe I shouldn't have told you about the button/cherry not being planned. Maybe now you'll realize that I just sort of make this up as I go. Well, I made that all was totally intentional. I planned it from the start.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

green clutch

I took a brief break from orders to finish up some bags I'm going to attempt to submit to a purse book. Eep! Kyle, my awesome photographer friend, is going to take some pictures for me so that my horrifyingly awful photography doesn't immediately disqualify my submission.

I really like this yarn color and I was ridiculously pleased with how this one turned out. At various stages of its creation I would hold it in front of Lorne's face to demand praise.

I was running out of yarn when I attached the handles. The deadline for book submission is mid-October, but I'm sending the bags up to Kyle in Seattle for photograhy, so I didn't really have a lot of time to spare. And I'm pretty sure this is one of the colors I had to order from the internets, not available in my local yarn stores (LYS, for the knitting nerds). I finished with three little scraps to spare. I was freaking out when attaching the last part of the second handle, I was afraid it'd be an inch short. But it wasn't. Phew.

P.S. The blue vinyl strips the clutch is sitting on are straps from a forthcoming tote bag. I was too lazy to move them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I think I'm turning Japanese.

I really think so.

My friend Heidi, who is super awesome, really liked the big half vinyl bags I've been making and asked me to make one for her. Heidi is into Japanese art and found this fabric from Japanese fabric designer Mame-Yakko.

one side of Heidi's bag

I really like the little mushroom looking things. I have no idea what they are, but I find their shape to be pleasing. They remind me of the goombas in Super Mario Brothers.

the innards

You may have guessed from the linings of other things I've made that I like stripes. And I do like stripes. But my first love is polka dots. And this amazing fabric manages to combine both stripes AND polka dots, all in one place. It's busy and kind of funky, but so is Heidi. I mean funky in a good way, not in a "Heidi doesn't shower enough" kind of way. Heidi smells quite good. She shares my obsession with Lush.

the innards' innards

You may notice that both pockets are a little off center. However, I did that on purpose. No, seriously, I did. No real reason, I just thought it looked neat.

the other side of Heidi's bag

P.S. I thought briefly about using this other Japanese fabric for the lining, so that Heidi would feel like she was on an acid trip every time she tried to get her keys out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

another wedding purse

Beth liked the look of Andie's purse and asked me to make something similar for her. She said her dress was taupey/silvery satin, covered in ivory lace.

I made hers a little different than Andie's. No reason...just for the hell of it. The fabric store had all the taupey stuff I used under the lace hiding away from all the other satiny fabric, so I spent a half hour wandering through the fabric section trying to find it. I knew I'd seen the color when I was buying fabric for Andie's purse. Finally, an elderly woman that didn't even work at the store, asked what I was looking for. Apparently I'd passed by her with an angry look in my face one too many times. When I told her, she led me (by the elbow) to a little display at the end of one of the sections of quilting fabric. Why would you put it away from the rest of the special occaisons fabric? Why?

Anyway, Beth's wedding is in October, with fall colors. She suggested brown, gold, burnt orange, or amber for the lining. Orange! She said the magic word. Like I would have used anything other than orange after being given the green light...or, orange light, I guess I could say.

Look! I took a good close-up picture of the lacy stuff! I'm improving! Or maybe I just got lucky with the lighting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


After this post and this post and the post you are currently reading, you might think that I have some sort of George Washington obsession. I don't, really.

Here comes George, in control.

I am pleased to come from the state named after him, as it's a pretty awesome place, and I'm sure he was a pretty awesome dude. But I don't really know a lot about him, other than the lies told to me in the Brad Neely video (have you watched it yet? come on, this is your third chance), whatever was said in the letters from him in 1776 and that he didn't really chop down a cherry tree. Oh, and he was our first president. I know that.

Women dig his snuff and his gallant stroll.

It's just that he has a really distinct profile. He's on two denominations of our currency (the dollar and the quarter, in case you don't come from America or you're very forgetful). I showed the cutout on the coin purse to several people and asked if they could tell who it was, and they all said yes. It seemed like a good profile to use.

Ate opponents brains...invented cocaine...

Anyway, this clutch is for Kedrin, who will be getting married (or maybe just having her rehearsal dinner) in George Washington's hometown, which the internets tells me is Alexandria, Virginia (see, I'm not obsessed, I had to look it up). She has promised me pictures of the George purse visiting George's hometown. I'm sure this will only fuel my obsession. I mean, pique my curiousity.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

maroon tote

Michelle saw the birdie bag I made for myself and saw two things she liked: the bag style, and the innards. She asked if I could make her something similar, but with the maroonish innards on the outside, and with black vinyl.

Ask and ye shall receive.

She also gave me free reign on the lining, which excited me ever so much. I love this fabric and have been wanting to use it on someone for awhile, so when I pulled it out and some of the maroonish colors matched up with the fabric for the outside of the bag, I was thrilled.

I made the larger inside pocket a little bit shorter than in the version of this bag I made for myself, and reinforced it so it's not quite as floppy as it is in my bag. This means I didn't accidentally sew it to the top of the bag in doing the topstitching, so I swore a lot less than I did with mine. Less swearing means I'm more likely to make more of these.

Action shot!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

andie's purse - update!

Andie just sent me a picture of her wedding purse with the brooch she's adding to the front, so I thought I would share the finished product here.

She says it's more silver than it looks in this picture. I'm a little glad that I'm not the only one that has issues with photographing things correctly (I really should learn), but I think Andie's picture of the bag is better than most of the ones I took. The shame, the shame.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

apple cozy

You may find it hard to believe, but I've never made any sort of knitted cozy before. Unless you want to call hats head cozies or baby blankets baby cozies. But I don't, because that would be weird. Anyway, Kristen saw a picture of an apple cozy and asked if I could make one. I'm willing to try anything (craft-wise, that is), so I said sure.

objects may be less blurry than they appear

Once again, please excuse my horribly bad photography. This was knitted in the round, on five small double pointed needles. Every time I start something on dpns (that's the knitting community's way of saying "double pointed needles") I get really frustrated. I drop things like needles and stitches, both of which are important for knitting in the round. I stab my fingers and lap and eyes. I swear a lot. But once I get going I actually really like it. (I'm writing that down mainly so that next time I start a project on dpns and I'm angry and swearing, I can read that to remind myself that it gets better.)

I like the orange button.

When Kristen asked me to make this I'd never heard of such a thing before. I'm still not entirely sure what its function is, other than to make your apple cuter. But preliminary research has indicated that this cozy makes your apple 379% cuter than a naked apple. That's a lot of cute to resist. I might have to make one for myself.

In other news, today I ran to the craft store to get some green yarn to make the leaf. I had a hard time finding anything that actually looked leafy, and not like a neon light vomited in yarn form. The only color I found that actually looked okay was this brand:

Yes. That's Vanna White, of Wheel of Fortune fame. Yes, Vanna White has her own line of yarn. It's 100% acrylic, just like her.


risque apple, flashing some stem