Friday, October 31, 2008

Before you eat your Halloween candy ....

Snopes take on Pins and Needles in Halloween Candy
The Razor Blade in the Apple ....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CRAFTERNOON book review/profile/giveaway

Hey guys! I just posted a review and profile of CRAFTERNOON over on Craftzine. This is one of my all-time favorite craft books. Go read why, and read some fun questions and answers from author, Maura Madden. And then - Enter to Win your own copy of CRAFTERNOON on the Craftzine blog (not here - there!). You have until 9PM PST on Friday, October 31 to enter. Go do it! And tell your friends about it! This is a craft book you *want* in your collection. Trust me.

Enjoy! :)

Tomorrow: My almost-late-but-not-too-late Halloween sick/twisted embroidery for this year. Until then, take a sec to remember our dear pal, Zombie Jitterbug Girl.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knitting machines from the past, toys for today

While I was at Maker Faire, I was able to watch a fantastic antique circular sock knitting machine in action. I'm not a knitter (being insanely hot-natured, I have an aversion to yarn, sadly) but this thing sparked my fancy. First off, it was a beautiful piece of machinery - big and sturdy, but with tons of tiny working parts that were so fun to watch in action. Next, it was just really cool to see the knitting process happen so quickly, right before our eyes. I was intrigued!

I haven't had much time to think about those knitting machines since Maker Faire, but when I popped into a Tuesday Morning shop to kill sometime while I waited for my take out dinner to be prepared, I was stunned to find a kid version of the machines right in the front window!

I snapped a couple of pictures with my iPhone, and didn't have time to really take down any info, but sure enough, it appears to be the same concept but in plastic and for kids. Very interesting ....

I still, of course, prefer the antique version of the machines, but I just thought it was funny that something I didn't even know existed 12 days ago has now popped into my surroundings twice!

I didn't pick up the knitting machine for my daughter, but I was tempted to. I'm a little weary of big plastic toys like that - we've been burned by looks-cool-but-is-really-junk toys before, so I'm trying to show restraint in what I 'grab' for her for Christmas. Regardless, it was just an interesting find so soon after I'd first learned about these machines.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CRAFT:09 Is out! Woooo!

Yay! CRAFT: 09 is out on the newsstands. Can you believe, I still don't have a hard copy!? I'm starting to fear that I let my subscription lapse, but that's beside the point. I've *seen* a copy (at Maker Faire) and friends have started getting their issues, so I feel like it's time to go ahead and get excited about it. I actually had this fear for ages that it wouldn't happen.

(and, on a side note, everyone who has their copy already says it's one of the best CRAFTs they've read, so I highly recommend snagging a copy, or - better yet - subscribing right now)

I wrote this article with one of my crafty BFFs, Diane of Crafty Pod. Diane has been an incredible source of support, inspiration and is just darn fun. She's, without a doubt, one of the most generous people I've ever met. Diane, I adore you.

I'm emailed Diane on New Year's Day this year with a version of the story idea that we ended up writing. I toyed with pitching it on my own, but when we realized that we'd both been thinking abou the subject (we've learned that we pretty much share a brain over the last year and a half or so) we decided to pitch it together.

It was the most fun project I've ever worked on, and by far the most effortless collaboration in which I have ever participated. I'd write pages and pages and pages and pages with this gal. (hmmm .... note to Diane and self ... a book someday? ;)

I also loved working on this story because I got to interview to women I love. First up, Opal Cocke whom I met through the Creative Mom Podcast group. I've been drooling over Opal's journal quilts for more than a year, and it makes me so happy to see her featured on the pages of CRAFT:. I'm also excited because Opal and Creative Mom Podcast creator, Amy, have started a new joint effort called Here2There. Their work is *amazing* - you must check it out.

I also got to interview Fredda Perkins, mom to the coolest crafty gal around: Jennifer Perkins! I was so excited to interview her. I've always felt a fondness for Jen and her mom (and family) because they seem to have a similar family dynamic that my family has. She was as fun and warm as I imagined she'd be. And darn cute to boot.

So there ya go. Yeah, it's just one article, but ya know, I've been itchin' to get back in to writing for a decade now, and it feels nice. And getting to do it with one of my best crafty friends makes it even better. Thanks, Diane and Opal and Fredda and Tina and everyone for making it such a fun experience. Hopefully this is just the beginning!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Few Goodies from Maker Faire

I'm actually making some stuff this week (gasp! I know!) but I've been meaning to share some fun stuff that I brought home from Maker Faire, so until the other projects are complete, these pics will have to do.

Laser Cut Wooden Blocks from Xylocopa
This Bazaar Bizarre booth was a favorite of a lot of folks. The amazingly intricate, beautiful designs on jewelry and wooden blocks were hard to resist. I coveted the octopus necklace, angler fish earrings, and wanted to bring the entire alphabet of blocks home. Budget constraints, though (ya know... the whole spinal cord surgery for the dog thing) limited me to just bringing one block home. Here are pictures of all the sides, though.

Teeny cute stamps from Craft Chi
I saw these stamps on Amy's web site and really liked them. They're just darn cute and the packaging was ingenious. I still haven't gotten them inky yet, but can't wait to.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eeeps! Look at that!

Weee! I'm happy to announce that I'm now a regular contributor over at! My Maker Faire stint went really well, and I've been asked to stay on as a contributor. I'll be posting up crafty fun stuff every day over there. This is, quite frankly, a dream job for me. My favorite thing to do is find cool stuff on the internet and send it to friends (just ask friends on my regular email list ... or even random email list ... I'm queen of sending the "holy smokes! check this out!" emails) so I could not ask for a more perfectly fitting job. Not to mention, the folks on the Craftzine team are about the most fun, kind, smart, cool people you could ever hope to be around (read: I'm totally intimidated, but I'll get over that ... maybe). I just feel incredibly lucky.

And if you find something you think might be of interest to the readers, send an email to me at rachel at craftzine dot com.

I'll also mention that my first article for CRAFT magazine (co-written with one of my crafty BFFs, Diane!) is coming out in Volume 09, which will be out soon. I got to see a sneak peek at Maker Faire and almost peed my pants. For a gal who had high aspirations of writing for magazines in high school and college, but then got married and had kids (which is great, you know, but ...) it felt pretty dern good to see my name - especially alongside the name of one of my favorite people on the planet - in print. Whew boy!

So if you don't already have a subscription to CRAFT magazine, what on Earth are you waiting for!? Seriously! Subscribe now, and your first issue you receive will have the article Diane and I wrote in it!

It's the happiest day when I open my mailbox and see my CRAFT in there. You can read all about why I love CRAFT magazine over here on a post I wrote back in May. And then you can go subscribe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Call for Austin Crafters for SHOP AUSTIN

Some Austin crafters may be still dusting their boots off from Bazaar Bizarre, but in the busy holiday season you can't rest for long. If you're looking to go ahead and get a Spring show on your calendar, you might want to check out SHOP AUSTIN presented by The Bearded Ladies Production Company. They've just opened up applications, and here's some information from one of The Bearded Ladies, Anne Marie Beard.

The Bearded Ladies Present: SHOP AUSTIN
Independent Designer, Craft & Fine Art Show Case

Date: Saturday April 18, 2009
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm
Location: Saengerrunde Hall, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Tickets: in advance $8, at the door $10.
Contact: info [at]

Event Info:
The Bearded Ladies Present is set to produce their first show in Austin, Texas. The 2009 event will be a craft fair, fine arts festival, and independent designer showcase all wrapped up into one. By featuring the best vendors in Austin, The Bearded Ladies Present: Shop Austin will provide shoppers an opportunity to find one of-a-kind gifts, unique accessories, fashionable attire, home decor and more.

Shoppers can browse the work of talented artisans who buck the trend of mass-production by offering handcrafted goods that are finely constructed and very unique. These independent entrepreneurs are locally based, but also come from surrounding areas to participate in what is sure to be a fun family event filled with items you can’t find anywhere else. The first thirty shoppers to arrive at the event will receive a goodie bag stuffed with great giveaway items from vendors and local businesses. Shopping begins at 11:00 a.m., and admission is $8 in advance, $10 at the door; parking is available near Saengerrunde Hall.

The Bearded Ladies Present: Shop Austin is currently accepting applications for vendors. All local crafters, independent designers, and fine artists that want to broaden their customer base are invited to apply. Let all of Austin know what you have to offer and join The Bearded Ladies Present: Shop Austin!
To apply go to:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Knit-a-Tit: Fun to Say and Fun to Make For a Good Cause This Weekend in Austin

Leslie passed this info on to me, and I couldn't help but pass it on here. I've had several friends/family members affected by breast cancer, and I'm willing to bet most of you have, too. Here's a fascinating and fun way one woman dealt with her new body after having her breast removed. Her full story and the pattern for the "tits" is over on the Knitty web site.

This weekend, there is a Knit-a-Tit day here in Austin. All the information is below. Join in or pass on to friends whom you think would enjoy or appreciate it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Gauge Knit, 5406 Parkcrest Drive, Austin, TX 78731

After losing her breast to cancer, knitter Beryl Tsang was depressed and frustrated by her options in prosthetics: all were "too heavy, squishy or ugly... they reminded me of raw liver, and the bra resembled the suspension system of my 1995 Volvo." She decided she could knit something better from the luxurious yards in her stash. The result— the "Tit-Bit"— is a hand-knitted breast pattern which can be customized in dimensions and materials to satisfy the requirements of any woman.

To conclude Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gauge Knits and the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin are hosting a "Knit-A-Tit" afternoon on Sunday, October 26, from 3-6 p.m. Participants are invited to knit Tit-Bits, check out an array of examples from practical to outrageous, and talk to breast cancer survivors modeling their own Tit-Bits. BCRC staff will offer information on prosthetic options as well as on breast cancer detection, education and support.

If you plan to knit-a-tit for donation, you will need:

Any sport weight yarn that's machine washable and soft
Your needles and a copy of Beryl's pattern available at

We will supply fiber fill, weights and copies of the pattern.

Please contact us at 512.371.9300 if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you!

The Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas is a grass roots, non-profit organization created by breast cancer survivors. The Center exists to serve women with breast cancer, their families and support systems, women who have questions about screening and biopsy, and others in the community who are concerned about breast cancer issues.

Contact the Breast Cancer Resource Center for information or questions at:

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few fun Flickr sets to browse

I'm still recovering from Maker Faire. This morning, I literally fell asleep in my chair while I was writing. Once I got my post ready, I scurried upstairs and took a long nap. (my body says 'thanks!')

So while I can't write much right now, I do have two fun Flickr sets for you to browse.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

First up is my Flickr set from Maker Faire. I haven't been able to go through and add titles/descriptions yet, but they are at least all together and uploaded! I think some of my favorites are the ones of my son's face while he was watching the giant ping-pong-flinging robot. It was hilarious. I'll be posting highlights all week over at Craftzine, so be sure to check those out.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Next up is a slide show from my good pals, Sarah and Josh, of Sewer-Sewist and The Obama Craft Project. They were so inspired by the Obama Screen Party that the Studio 1408 gals threw last month, that they replicated the event up in dearl ole Portland. Sarah just sent a link to the pictures, and it makes me miss Portland and my Portland friends even more. Sigh! Enjoy, and I'll be back tomorrow with some book reviews and giveaways so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thermofax screen printing

With amy of craft chi. So cool. Mmmm... Screen printing ......

Jenny Hart Embroidery Demo!

Learn from the master in the Maker Shed right now! :)

Fashioning technology

With Syuzi Pakhchyan in the CRAFT demo booth!

Having fun at Maker Faire

Maker Faire has been loads of crazy fun. Exhausting, but loads of crazy fun.

First off, a quick "pupdate" (as Leslie would say!) Thanks for all the sweet words and emails about our sweet pup, Emilie. I'm happy to report that she is back home from the hospital! I called my husband from the Faire yesterday, and he surprised me when he said she was home! (I didin't think she would be home until Monday) I was so happy to get to see her last night and love on her. She's still in a ton of pain and can't move her back legs. Seeing her drag her little body around the house is heartbreaking, but then she'll start wagging her tail or give me a big smooch on the chin and I know she's on her way to recovery. Whew.

Now back to the Faire. Man, it is Fu-hun. There are so many amazing people here doing so many amazing things. The Craft Makers are just downright freaking awesome. They are super friendly and have all kinds of cool projects for people to do and learn. I just handed out my "editor's picks" for my favorite Craft Makers (the Craftzine bloggers get to pick our faves and hand out blue ribbons and the whole shebang.) Here were my picks:

Future Craft Collective - what can I say, these ladies just kick all kinds of ass. Kathie and Bernadette have been rocking the sewing machines out in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama tent, making hats for all the cool kids. They are absolute rock stars!

The Amazing Hancock Brothers - these guys have loads of amazing hand-carved wood blocks and a huge printer. If you bring a shirt or anything else, you can pick an image and they'll print it for you! Their stuff is A-Ma-ZING! Plus, they are really funny guys.

Craftcast - Kristy is demoing her gorgeous pysanky techniques. You can create one of these Ukranian decorated/dyed eggs at her booth this afternoon.

The gals from the Austin Fiber Arts are doing a felting project at their booth. You can get wool roving, set it up in a design and then put it in a big Ziploc bag with soap and water and walk around felting while you explore!

Finally, I picked the women of the Austin Lace Guild. I've never seen someone making lace before, and these ladies are doing some gorgeous work. It's breathtaking. Not to mention, the tools and technique for making the lace are beautiful, too! They were also really sweet ladies - one said that the lace trim she was making was set to go on a paire of pantaloons she'd sewn. She was SAUCY! I love it.

If you're in Austin, you still have time to catch all this good stuff - the Faire is going on through 6PM. If you're not here, sorry. Come next year. Totally worth it. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jennifer Perkins Demo

Super fun!!!

Getting readybto do my demo

And scared just a bit!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finally time for Maker Faire!

Whew! This got here a lot faster than I thought it would. I can't believe it's been almost three months since I started blogging about Maker Faire for I've had crazy fun learning more about MF and getting ready for the event. I can't wait for this weekend.

And yet, I almost wish I could hit the pause button and wait a few days to get started. It's been a crazy week around here and, quite frankly, I'm flat out exhausted. I've had a killer cold this week that has all but completely knocked me out. Then yesterday, our sweet one-eyed-blind Pekingese, Emilie, had to have emergency spine surgery. We woke up to her not being able to move her back legs (uh ... SCARY!) and had to rush her to the vet. After xrays and a cat scan, they determined she needed surgery immediately to relieve pressure on her spinal cord from a bulging disc in her back.


We adopted Em back in May from the Houston Pekingese Rescue Group, and have become completely smitten with her. She's the sweetest little pup you could ever hope to know. The poor thing has had a rough go of it in her short life, and we are hoping that she pulls through this latest agony ok. Please keep her in your thoughts. I'm sitting here waiting for a follow up call from the surgeon, and she'll likely be in the hospital through the weekend.

On top of all that, the house is a wreck and I'm still sick (hellooooo ... no voice ... doing a demo in 28 hours ...) so I'm floundering a little bit here.

Fortunately, I got a great email from The Crafty Chica herslef yesterday. You know, the awesome Kathy Cano-Murrillo. She's my hero. I love her bubbly personality, the way you can not just hear, but *feel* her smile in her voice, and I love that she's always so optimistic and happy and hard-working. I did a short profile interview with her for Craftzine, and got her answers back right after we got home from taking Emilie in for surgery. Her words were so inspiring - it really helped me get through yesterday. You can read the full interview over on Craftzine, but I also really love what she had to say about why folks should go to the Faire.

Many times we crafty artsy folks feel out of place in mainstream society. Some people just don't appreciate the joy of sewing through tin sheets, or decoupaging paper to fabric, or embedding anything and everythign in resin. At Maker Faire, it is all like people and you will feel like you are among family. Even if you have never felt the the bristles on a paintbrush, you will be awestruck and inspired within the first few minutes. There is just so much to see, so many creative people sharing their innovatives ideas and technqiues. You will leave a changed person.
So I better head off the computer for now. I've got a couple of posts going up at Craftzine today, I need to practice my demo for the weekend and prep my materials, and I've got to clean up the house before I lose my mind. Wish me luck .... and see you at the Faire!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

HOW TO: Make a Caterpillar Model

I've mentioned before that I don't do nearly enough crafting with my kids. I should, but ... you know ... my crafting time is kinda my time. So I was excited to have an actual project that forced my daughter and I to work together on a "craft" of sorts.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter (in the second grade) came home with a big project assignment: Create a model of a caterpillar from any kind of non-food, non-toy object and present it to the class. We went out for lunch one day and looked over the assignment sheet and came up with some ideas for what we could use to make each part of the caterpillar. She had some great ideas, and from there, we hit the craft store. We walked up and down every single aisle (FUN!) and had lots of discussions about what materials could be translated into things like simple eyes and spiracles.

My biggest laugh came when I asked her if she wanted to use Model Magic for the body segments instead of the Styrofoam balls she'd picked out already. She got very serious and used her hands to explain, "Well, no, because ... you know... I just think the Styrofoam is more ... you know ... exciting."

So with exciting Styrofoam balls and other supplies in hand, we set out to construct an awesome caterpillar. As we started working, she was the one who suggested we take pictures as we went so we could do a little "step by step" thing. HA! She's been reading my craft blogs, I think .....

And then, as we worked, she said something that made my heart glow. I don't have many "good mom" moments. I mean, I'm not a bad mom, but I don't feel like the kick butt mom I could/should be. And then she said:

"Without the help of my crafty mama, I couldn't have finished in time!"

Ahhh! A small success!

So here is her step by step tutorial on making an awesome caterpillar model:

Step 1 - gather your supplies

we used the following (didn't decide to do pics until after we started working)
- small styrofoam balls
- lots of toothpicks
- acrylic craft paint in a few shades of green
- metallic pipe cleaners
- flat top straight pins
- large white sequins
- smaller black sequins
- round top sewing pins
- styrofoam board on which to mount your caterpillar

Step 2 - paint your body segments

We needed to do 13 body segments and a head. We mixed three shades of green paint and sponged them on to the styrofoam balls. We used toothpicks to stand the styrofoam balls so they could dry easily.

Step 3 - connect your body segments

We connected the segments with toothpicks - a few in each segment - and smooshed them together

Step 4 - add your bristles

My daughter cut the pipe cleaners with heavy duty scissors and stuck them down in the top of the body segments.

Step 5 - add your spiracles

We took straight pins and put a small black sequin and then a larger white one, and stuck the pin into the side of each body segment.

Step 6 - add your simple eyes

We used round top sewing pins for these. My daughter added them to the bottom part of the face.

Step 7 - add your legs

I had some high hopes for fancy legs, but at this point, we were running out of time. We just ended up using colored toothpicks for the legs.

Step 8 - attach your caterpillar to the board

We had three small rectangles of styrofoam from packaging, so I taped them together and then we stuck the toothpick legs down into them so the caterpillar would stand up.

Behold, the most awesome, exciting Styrofoam caterpillar ever known!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Austinites: Grab a spot in Kat's screen printing class!

Just got an email from Kat that there is an opening in her Guerrilla Screen Printing class that starts this Thursday from 6-9 pm and runs for five weeks. If you've followed my blog at all, you know how much my screen printing class with Kat changed my life! (for real!) Grab a spot while you can. Here's the low down:

I've got a spot open in my Guerrilla Screenprinting class at Studio 1408, which starts this Thursday night, 6-9pm, and runs for five weeks.

In this class, you'll learn to build and tape screens, and get to make up to six screens to take home (including one photo emulsion), using methods ranging from soy way to screen filler to photo emulsion. It's fun, empowering, and gives you the skill and tools you need to take your work to new levels of originality and artfulness!

(beware, though, once you start printing, you won't want to stop...)

tuition for the five weeks, $150. plan to spend $50-60 on supplies.

for more info or to reserve this spot, e-mail me:

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Week to Maker Faire!

Whew! I can't believe Maker Faire is already almost here. It's been a very full, fast couple of months, blogging about the crafty side of Maker Faire for I've always been excited about Maker Faire, but - WOWZA - the more I've learned about Maker Faire, and the more folks I've met or interviewed about the Faire ... I just can.not.wait. for it it get here. It's going to be crazy fun.

I'm especially excited, because the crafty side of Maker Faire is going to be 10 times bigger and better than last year's. There are tons of cool people coming as Makers, and who will have projects to teach and offer for visitors to make, and Bazaar Bizarre and Swap-O-Rama-Rama are going to be incredible.

The awesome, Natalie Zee Drieu over at CRAFT put together a short and sweet video that sums up the crafty happenings of Maker Faire. Watch it, and you'll start to see when I'm so excited for next weekend. If you are anywhere near Austin, you must come - you won't regret it.

If you are going to Maker Faire, please let me know. I'd love to connect at some point and say hi! You can see me do my demo in the Maker Shed at the CRAFT demo table at 12:00 on Saturday and 2:00 on Sunday! I'll be demoing how to make the awesome felt monsters that were created by Moxie and were featured on the cover of CRAFT06. Fun! Come say hi! See you there ....

And here's a summary of the posts I've done so far for in case you've missed them. I have loads more to post during this coming week, including a peek at the celeb crafters (Jenny Hart, Jennifer Perkins and Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano-Murillo who are going to be at the Faire. Hoorah!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Snifff .... leaving a job I love

You know when you go to a crazy good buffet? You load up your plate with all the yummiest, sneeze-guarded stuff and sit down for a feast, and then you realize ... sure, you're plate's filled with wonderful things, but if you eat all of it you're going to have a stomach ache later on?

That's how I feel at the moment. I'm in the very fortunate position to have a lot of really amazing things on my plate - great jobs, opportunities, family and more. But it's also overflowing, and something had to give.

I just sent out this week's Stitch Lab newsletter with my goodbyes to the students as the Stitch Lab Studio Assistant. I'll still be teaching embroidery and helping with newsletters and such, but I wont' be in on the day-to-day management of the studio. It breaks my heart. I hate leaving a job I love. Hate it. It wasn't an easy decision, but if I want to get a little better control of my stress level, I had to do it.


Here's what I wrote in the newsletter:

It is with the heaviest, saddest heart that I have to bid adieu to my dear sweet Stitch Lab. I've had the privilege to help steer this ship for the past year, and it has absolutely been the most fun, creative, love-filled job I've ever had. I'm leaving the studio assistant position to focus on my writing ventures and to try to get a little more balance going in my home/health life. I will miss all the Stitch Lab students so much! I've loved getting to know you and helping you tap into your creative spirits through Leslie's awesome classes. The Stitch Lab students are without a doubt the most fun, creative, talented bunch of folks I could ever hope to know. Thanks for always making my job so fun and easy!

And my deepest thanks have to go to Leslie - world's best boss, most patient teacher and a constant source of support and inspiration. I love you!

But don't think you can get rid of me completely! Nay! I'm far too attached to Leslie and the Lab to disappear all together. I'll still be teaching embroidery classes, and I'll still be helping out with the newsletters, and I'll be revamping and doing some major ramping up to the web site. I just will no longer be handling enrollments and studio management. Leslie's on her way to finding the Next Best Sewing Studio Assistant as I type, and I know you all will be in fabulous hands. I look forward to staying touch and keeping up with all the wonderful things the Stitch Lab students are doing! Much love to you all!

~Rachel (sobby and sad to be leaving ... )
*The picture is a tribute to the many hilarious moments Leslie and I have had during video conferences over the computer. Funny image effects make any meeting more fun!