Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Greetings from under the avalanche...

Well, it's that time of year again - crafting frantically as I watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on a constant loop.  I actually got a pretty good start this year, so everything's at least started, it's just a matter of prioritization to get everything finished in the right order. Highlights of this year's workload include:
  • Hooded Scarf (that didn't start off as hooded, but then she was pointing out a hooded one she liked, so oh well...)
  • Dog Sweater
  • Convertible Mittens
  • Socks
  • Cowl
  • More Socks
  • Hats (oh yes, so many hats)
  • Flavored liqueurs
  • Assorted bath goodies
And, of course, it's the holidays and I work retail...

You probably won't be hearing from me again until around New Year's...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Milliput FTW! (part one)

I've been having a lot of fun with a little sculpture and miniature painting lately, and I finally decided to buy myself some epoxy putty for a project I have in mind (no details yet, it's a seeeeeeeeecret!).  I went with some Milliput (the standard grey-green), and started off with a couple of smaller projects to get the feel for working with it.

The tentacle is a sculpt of my own - I've been working on some small casts to be used as game pawns/miniatures, and this one came out with a couple of big air bubbles.  I've filled them in with the Milliput, and I'm going to paint it up as a sample piece.

The ghost is Reaper mini #03342, which I absolutely love, but I was a little worried that in actual gameplay with other miniatures on the map, he might prove to be a little top-heavy.  So I've covered a poker chip with Milliput, and pressed a brickwork texture plate into it.  Should prove to be a good stable base, and I can't believe that I actually had a brick texture handy (and I'm so glad I remembered I had it before I drew the whole thing in with a bamboo skewer). 

I'm really pleased with the Milliput so far - it's what I always thought Sculpey should handle like (and may handle like, for those with colder hands).  It's both firm and easily sculpted, easy to prepare, easy cleanup, didn't stain or irritate my hands, and generally seems to do what I want it to.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it takes paint and handles some finish sanding after it's cured.

Also, if you're into signs from above, as I was waiting in line to purchase it, a lady came up and handed me a coupon for 40% off my purchase.  Certainly didn't hurt things.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Of Things to Come

Been a little overwhelmed lately, but here's a few sneak peeks of projects and patterns I hope to be posting soon:

Keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Checking in right quick

Just a quick heads up - I'm having an earring sale on Etsy until September 6th.  All earrings marked (SALE) are $5, and you only pay shipping on the first item - all additional items in the same purchase ship free.  You can get to the store from the widget in the sidebar, or you can just click here: Effulgent Studios on Etsy

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Am I That Transparent?

Since my first batch of resin casts, I've been tweaking my technique a bit and experimenting. 

The first thing I discovered is that somehow in my head I had the climate requirements of concrete and resin mixed up - while concrete sets best when cool and slightly damp, resin prefers a nice dry heat.  Since the house is currently about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, this means that the resin casting session now begins with making a hot cup of tea while I hold the component bottles under my arms to warm them so they'll blend properly.  This seems to be helping with the excessive bubble problem (though when it's overall bubbles rather than just a few air pockets, it looks kind of interesting).

The second thing I discovered is that the resin stays where you put it (this brand, at least). It neither shrinks nor expands while curing, so the molds should be filled where you actually want the resin to go.  As you can see in the picture above of the first batch, I overfilled the mold a bit, and have some cleanup to do. Luckily, the resin is pretty easy to trim with an X-acto knife and a steady hand.

All in all, a lot of fun - I've been playing around a bit with embedding objects in the resin as well as making my own molds using liquid latex, and hopefully should have some good examples to show off in a few days. Finally, a use for all the little clockwork bits I hoard!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Adventures in Crafting

I'm very excited about trying a new craft today - a few months ago, I'd found a kit to get started with casting resin on clearance, and I finally got things cleared out and set up to give it a try. I'm going to just be doing some little rounded squares, and a small batch just to test and see how this EasyCast resin is to work with. If it turns out well, I may get a bit fancier with future attempts.

I was surprised to see that the resin itself is colored blue - when it said 'sapphire' as the color on the box, I assumed that was going to be the color of the mylar flakes they included for the project on the box.  This led to some re-planning, as I'd intended to embed something else in the resin pieces assuming the resin itself was giong to be clear. I really don't care for the mylar flakes, so I dug up some deep blue glitter instead, and I'm not going to mix up all of the resin.

Also, it's probably a bit rainier than it should be for resin, but I didn't realize that when I started - the house is fairly cool and dry, so fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Some of you may recall that last year, I posted a list of five impossible things I'd like for my birthday.  This year, I've got a more reasonable list - a birthday present from the internet, if you will.  I would really like to break my pageview record for my webcomic.  Not a huge target to hit, I have a fairly steady readership, but not overwhelming numbers.

This weekend, I'd like you to take a look at it - tell a friend to check it out, post a link on Facebook, whatever. Maybe some of you will like it enough to come back for regular doses, maybe you won't, I'd just like as may people as possible to give it a look. It's a weekly comic, just sort of random one-shot jokes, no continuing storyline to speak of:  Ooh Shiny

If the record gets broken, I may do a little something extra for next week's comic - maybe color, maybe a bonus strip, we'll see.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

While Twitter Was Down...

I know I've got dozens of other things I should be working on tonight, but when I went to check Twitter and found that between E3, an earthquake, and a giant statue of Jesus being on fire (no, really), Twitter was over capacity, I was struck with inspiration!
Voila! My very own Fail Whale.  Mostly backstitch, though I did a split stitch to make the ropes look more 'ropey'.  Also, those are two very buff little birds, because I didn't feel like stitching the full half-dozen or so that normally keep Fail Whale aloft.  To give you a sense of scale, this is in a 4" (10 cm) hoop.

No idea what I'm going to do with this guy - maybe sew him onto a laptop carrier as a patch? Sometimes you just have to go with your first instinct...which in this case was embroidering a whale...I haven't even had anything to drink tonight, I have no excuse besides my own inherent randomness.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Wild Goose Chase Ends!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the two most difficult things to find in my town: Russian Standard vodka, and Lion Brand Wool-Ease color #179.

I'm not joking.  Finding each of these items required trips to at least three different stores over the course of the last two weeks, and in each case, I got the last one the store had.  Watching Iron Man 2 was particularly difficult, because I couldn't help but notice what brand of vodka Whiplash was drinking...it's a distinctive bottle.  All I can assume is that a strangely large number of people in my area are sitting around drinking vodka and knitting Dr. Who scarves.  I wish I knew who they were, they sound like they'd be fun to hang out with.

Regardless, the expedition has finally ended in success, and I can take my Fourth Doctor scarf off hold! And have a screwdriver, since for once I actually have good vodka and orange juice in the house at the same time.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Busy Busy Busy...

Everything's been kicking into high gear, and it looks like it's going to be a busy summer.  I finally found a new host for my main comic, Ooh Shiny, and I'm really happy with it so far.  The hosting service is great, the domain transfer went over without a hitch (from their side, at least...the old hosting service kind of dragged their feet), and I've got such an unbelievable amount of room, I'm thinking of resurrecting a couple of old NaNoWriMo ideas in graphic novel form as side projects.  They'd be on an irregular schedule, unlike Ooh Shiny, but they'd be actual stories rather than the mix of autobio and wackiness I've got going at the moment. All Our Yestertomorrows is finally getting some actual content as well - I'm still working on character profiles, but I hope to be able to get into the actual story soon.

In the world of knitting, the thought occurred to me when I was setting up my Ustream to let everyone watch me work on the comic, I could use Ustream for an online knitting show.  I'm still working out a few details, but so far I'm thinking I'll broadcast once a month, first half of the show will demonstrate a tip or technique, second half you can call in with knitting questions.  If there's enough demand, I might do a show more often, but I think once a month should be a nice reasonable schedule.  I'm thinking for the first show, I'll go over different types of increases, what they look like, and where you might want to use them.  If you've got any other suggestions, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Fair warning, I just got my hands on a concertina, there may be some very odd theme music involved with this...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Roundup

Well, I'm very pleased with myself.  With the exception of store samples, I didn't start a single new project during Lent - it was all about trying to finish what I've already started.  I didn't even buy supplies for projects, I only used supplies already on hand.

I got two scarves, an amigurumi, and a pincushion completely done, my sweater just needs about 3/4 of a sleeve, I got a new pattern posted here, have two other patterns handed over to test-knitters, and I'm just experimenting with decreases to finish off a new hat pattern.  I've also got a list of great ideas that I've just started in on today - mostly things for my Etsy store, but a few fun things for myself as well as at least one Christmas craft idea. Not bad, considering I lost about a week to the Martian Death Flu.

I've also started a Tumblr site, where I'm going to be doing a comic based on our weekly White Wolf fusion game that we've been playing off and on for...what, 5 years now?  You can find it at All Our Yestertomorrows, or at least you will once I actually get some pictures up. It's sort of funny, we've been playing this game for so long, I was really surprised while working on character pictures to find out that I didn't really have any idea what one of the characters looked like.  I'm looking forward to having a project that already has the script written, with no deadlines.  Not that my regular comic has a deadline at the moment since the server my site was on apparently got fried, but that's an entirely more stressful kettle of fish...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Spaced Stripe Scarf

This scarf is something I've been carrying around as my lunchtime project for a while, and even though it's a fairly simple stitch pattern everyone seems to like it so much, I thought I'd put up a pattern.

  • Worsted weight yarn, 190 yards each of a self-striping yarn and a solid contrast yarn (in a color that's not part of the striping pattern). You may need more if you want fringe on your scarf.
  • Size 10 US (6mm) knitting needles.
Cast on 31 stitches with striped yarn.

Mistake Rib: *[k2, p2] repeat from * until 3 stitches remain, k2, p1.

Work two rows in Mistake Rib using striped yarn.
Work two rows in Mistake Rib using solid yarn.

Continue, alternating colors every two rows until yarn runs out.

For a tidier edge when changing yarns, bring the yarn you are about to use up from under the yarn you have just finished using.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Preparing a new backlog

It seems that I'm coming up with new project ideas faster than I can finish things. While my lenten moratorium on starting new projects has helped me get several things finished, I was worried that come Easter, I'd forget all the ideas for things I had that I couldn't start in on immediately.  The highlights so far:

Synaesthesia paintings.
- sometime around New Year's, there was the gradual realization that other people don't usually taste in color. My husband is completely fascinated by this, and has taken to quizzing me at most meals. I thought it would be fun to fix myself a few snacks and try to paint what they taste like.

Embroidery of this comic.
- it combines two of my favorite memes (making fun of Horatio's sunglasses, and odd variants of the Bayeaux Tapestry), and I really wish I'd thought of it myself.

Edmonton Eulers shirt
- I have no excuse for coming up with this except for sheer sleep deprivation, but I still think it's funny.

Skirt re-creation
- one of those 'no ill wind' situations, my favorite skirt got caught on a door handle and tore, which means that I now have no qualms about carefully taking it apart and using it to make a pattern to re-create the skirt in other fabrics. Seriously, it's a great skirt - comfortable, flattering style, even has pockets.

In news from the realm of paring down the current projects, I finished my first character amigurumi (which was also my Ravelympics project) because I totally needed a little plushie of Egon Spengler:
He's about 7 inches tall to the top of his hair, made out of some leftover acrylic yarn I had from my first Fourth Doctor scarf.  I embroidered the name badge by hand (and then metaphorically kicked myself for forgetting that my sewing machine will embroider letters), his hair is all done in French knots with another layer of French knots on top for extra height, and the glasses are handmade out of 18-gauge wire with 22-gauge for the bridge.  I'd been thinking about making myself some amigurumi Ghostbusters for a while, and had intended to start with Ray, but as I was working on my comic, I came up with a script that I just loved too much to not make Egon to go along with.  It's going to be my first honest-to-God storyline, too.  The first part starts with this comic. (I've been having some reliability issues with my hosting service lately, so the comic is also being mirrored on my LiveJournal until I change hosts.)

Now Playing:
Man Man - Black Mission Goggles
(why does SignaTunes no longer work automatically on Blogger?)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Would you look at that f-ing snow?

I could've sworn I saw the snowplow go by a few hours ago...
Fortunately, with my Lent resolution to only work on finishing projects that I've already started (don't ask how many things I started on Pancake Tuesday...), a little enforced crafting time was not a bad thing.  I've already knocked a nice grey/black/white striped scarf off my Ravelry list (and into my Etsy shop, in all likelyhood), and I've really been going to town on my 'Ravelympics' (Ravelry Olympics) project.

I'm kind of keeping the Ravelympics project under wraps for a bit, because it was based in a comic idea and I don't want to spoil the comic - I plan on unveiling it when that particular strip goes live. I'm really enjoying it, though.  I'm more of a knitter than a crocheter, so it's a nice change of pace and a little bit of a challenge to myself, which was the point of the Ravelympics.  It's also nice to have a deadline to keep myself on target, or I think I would have already set it aside once I started to embroider the little accessory bits.

I've also got a few half-finished plushies I need to get finished up as well - besides wanting to put some up on Etsy, I also really want to submit something to Stuffed.  There's a couple of pincushions that just need to be stuffed and sewn shut, too. And two rooms I've started painting. And one room I'm in the middle of plastering the walls. And then there's the fabric that I just pinned to the moulding around the window for a bit until I had time to sew it into proper curtains...

Meanwhile, I've already got a list of five project ideas to start in on come Easter...better get back to clearing out some of this crafting backlog!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vanilla-Rum Frosting

This round of cupcakes was not as pretty as they could have been - I was using up the last of a bag of 'natural' (read - 'no anti-caking agent') powdered sugar, and as it turns out, I don't actually own a flour sifter.  So, the icing's a bit lumpy, but still extremely tasty!

After the last batch, I had several requests for the icing recipe, so I made careful notes this time.

Vanilla-Rum Frosting:
Enough for 2 dozen cupcakes iced with a spatula, or one dozen piped.

1/2 lb powdered sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon spiced rum
food coloring (keep in mind that the icing will start off slightly yellow from the butter when choosing a color)

(I was amused to see that the alcohol content on the rum was actually less than that of the vanilla extract, but I suppose you could use rum flavoring if it's an issue for you)

Microwave the bowl of powdered sugar for 30 seconds. It sounds kind of weird, but since the frosting itself isn't cooked, microwaving the sugar on its own will get rid of that weird metallic taste the corn starch in the powdered sugar sometimes has. Add all other ingredients and mix well.  If the icing seems a bit too stiff, add milk in small amounts until it reaches the right consistency.
I like to let the icing rest in the fridge for a bit if I'm going to be piping it, as my hands are very warm and otherwise I can only do about 3-4 cupcakes at a time before I melt the icing too much to get any real definition.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Domestic Pursuits

Got a domestic little bee in my bonnet today, and started off the day with a round of cupcakes:
These turned out better than the last batch I made - those were tasty, but closer to the consistency of pound cake than I really like my cupcakes.  The cake recipe I found for these guys was nice and simple, with a bit more leavening to them.  Also, there was no separating of eggs involved.  It's not that I mind separating eggs, I just prefer being able to use the pasteurized eggs so I can lick the bowl afterwards with impunity.

Also, I think this may be the best batch of icing I have ever made.  Normally, my quick icing has a bit of a metallic taste to it, but I learned today that the metallic taste comes from the cornstarch they add to powdered sugar, and can be eliminated by heat.  All I had to do was zap the powdered sugar in the microwave for 30 seconds, and voilá! Granted, being vanilla-rum flavored didn't hurt the icing's placement on the all-time awesome icing chart, but still...

Meanwhile, I was doing a bit of organizing while the cupcakes were baking/cooling, and found this stuffed in one of my boxes:

Not in the best of shape, but the ink stain is only on the cover (and doesn't hide the original $2 price tag from Venture, of all places...does Venture even still exist?).  Being copyright 1976, all the examples look like they were done in worsted-weight yarn on burlap, but it's still a good book.  Handily enough, February is National Embroidery Month, so I thought I'd take the opportunity of stumbling across this to learn a new stitch.
Presenting: the Palestrina knot: 

As you can see, it took me a few to get the hang of it, but it makes a nice, textural line that almost looks like a row of joined French knots.  I could definitely see using this as an outline for something that needed a touch of emphasis, or as a simple border. I do have two fresh teatowels in need of embellishment, after all...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The cake is a lie!

I've been meaning to switch over to using more cloth towels in the kitchen, but I didn't want just plain white towels, so I broke out the embroidery box and got to stitching. It's all backstitch, except for the edging of the cake, which is done in about three rows of French knots.  I will never fear French knots again after this project.

The original intent had been to make the cake slice a bit more detailed, but I hadn't really thought ahead, and made the design much larger than it really needed to be (takes up about a third of the towel). Also, this towel, while lovely and soft, was a bit looser of a weave than I usually embroider on.  It's the first thing I've ever embroidered that's meant for actual use rather than being decorative, so I'm a bit worried about how it's going to hold up.  All the ends have been well sewn in and reinforced with Fray-Check, so I've done all I can, I think.  I just need to give it a good preliminary wash to get rid of my pencil marks, and it's good to go.

Next time I do a towel, I know two things to do differently, though.
1) Dig up my disappearing ink embroidery marker
2) Much smaller design - it's just an embellishment, not a display piece.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Odds and Ends

I found a great tutorial on making a light tent for photography, and thought it might be worth a try to improve my product photos on Etsy.  Took me a while to find the right box, but once I had all the materials gathered, it was only an afternoon's work to get it all put together, and I'm quite pleased with the results - especially as I had a few things to show off.

First off, I've been eying up these vintage buttons for some time now, and I finally took the opportunity to treat myself: I love the deep blue, and the little flower shape.  They're not very big, maybe 3/4 inch wide (about 17mm), but I'm picturing them on a nice fine-gauge cardigan, something kind of mori girl-looking.

I also finally managed to get everything together to make a pair of earrings I'd had planned out ever since I first saw the beadcaps.

They were very simple and fast to make - I took eight matching bead caps, spaced them out on head pins with two small beads that matched the metal in between each one, and put them on ear wires.  I'd originally thought about getting all fancy and chaining them together on wire for a bit more movement, but I think if I'd done that, they might have been too jingly. (which is fun if you're just wearing them for a little while, but eight hours at work might have been a bit much.)

I've also had a lot of things lately that have just turned up while cleaning, such as these gloves. They fit me just nicely, and look very film-noir.  I kind of want a nice 1940s-silhouette dress and one of those hats with the black netting veil to wear with them.  No idea *where* I'd wear them, but if I could get the whole outfit together, I think I might have to organize something myself.
No idea where they came from, or how old they might be.  I vaguely remember my mom tucking them in one of the many boxes of my stuff that have been trickling over from her storage areas, but beyond that, their history is as mysterious as the backstory I'm already writing for the character whose costume they're going to be part of.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Minor setbacks ahoy!

Though I've been trying to get ahead on some of my projects, it seems like there's a few that have actually gone backwards the last few days.

The sample gloves I'm knitting hit a bit of a snag when I went to do my decreases after the three inches of ribbing on size 3 (3.25 mm, for the metric) needles, and discovered that I already had the right number of stitches on the needles. Or rather, the very, very wrong number.  I'd somehow skipped ahead in the pattern and cast on the number of stitches I was supposed to have *after* my decreases.  So, that all got ripped out and will be started over if I have time tomorrow. I'm just glad I didn't do the same thing on the other glove.

The other setback has been the sock pattern I'm working on.  Everything was going great, and the sample sock fit me just nicely. Then I did the math, took a few measurements to double-check my estimates for sizing, and realized that there's a reason I can wear those awesome pointy stiletto boots...and, possibly, why I seem to fall over a lot. My feet were at least an inch and a half smaller around than anyone else's, but I'd been using my foot measurement as the large end of the womens' sizing.  Math has been adjusted, knitting has been frogged, yarn has been rewound, and the sock-knitting shall begin anew.