Craft Challenge 2011: This is for Melody!

June 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Thank you so much to everyone to came to my Mad Tea Party! I’ll be posting Wonderland party tutorials soon, but before I do I have some unfinished business. From last month.

Remember my craft challenge project? Remember that May was for Melody? …Remember that May was over, um, a month ago?

Well, I made something for Melody!  And it’s thematically appropriate for the current run of posts!

Melody loves Alice in Wonderland, and collects different editions of the book as well as memorabilia–a few years ago I made her this doll, and last year I threw a Mad Tea Graduation Party for her–so naturally my first thought was to make something Alice for Melody.

So I painted an Alice kokeshi. I got the blank kokeshi doll from Temple7e on Etsy.

In one pocket Alice has a little bottle with a tag…

…and in the other she has a little slice of strawberry cake.
What do you think of her? I intentionally left her face blank…now I wonder if I should have given her features. What do you think?

May was for Melody!

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

So, I am the worst blog mom ever. I am far behind on this project, and despite my good intentions I do not have much in the way of posts for you, but in the meantime meet Melody!  It’s a month late, but better than never, right?

What is your name? Melody

Do you have a blog or website? Yes! and my less interesting photo-a-day:

What is your quest? To be the world’s youngest crazy cat lady and a bibliophibian (

What is your favorite color? Overall? Blue. I have never seen an ugly shade of blue. There are blues that I like less than others, but none that are ugly. I can’t think of a single other colour that has no ugly shades. My very favourite specific colour? There is one very particular shade of green that I love.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? The semester is over so I am no longer in student mode. Now I’m sleeping in until I feel like getting up. Then I go in circles in the kitchen looking in the refrigerator and then the freezer and then the pantry and back to the refrigerator because food may have magically appeared while I was looking in the pantry. Eventually I find something to eat. Then I spend the day on the computer, reading, or watching TV. Sometimes I make up excuses to leave the house. Hopefully I will soon have a summer job (I applied at plenty of places). And on some evenings and Saturdays I have rehearsal for Anne of Green Gables at a local community theatre. It’s a very small part, but it feels great to be back in the theatre.

What is your creative outlet? Theatre. It’s so much fun to pretend to be other people. Plus the people (at least in my experience) are really awesome and fun times are had by all. Improv is definitely my favourite.

What have you been reading and/or watching lately? What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? I’ve been re-reading Anne of Green Gables to refresh it in my mind for the show and because going over the script reminded me of how much I love Anne and I wanted to spend more time with her. I also just started reading Good Omens. Right now my favourite thing to watch is the current season of Doctor Who, even though every episode makes me want to shake my fist at Steven “The Troll” Moffat.

What inspires you at the moment? I don’t know. I guess I don’t stop to think about what inspires me to do something. I just do things. Even I don’t know why I do half of the things that I do.

2011 Craft Project: March was for Suzy!

May 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hey, remember that craft project I was doing?

Yes, that went well for two months, didn’t it?

I’m going to get back on track eventually!  But meanwhile, I realized that I never posted Suzy’s craft, so here it is:

It’s a headband covered with roses made from dictionary pages!

I was really pleased with this project, and I think Suzy looks pretty fabulous in it.

Biased? Me?


Plus Suzy sent me a poem about it!

Itchy sensation.
Could it be the roses
Sprouting from my head?

April is/was for Stefania!

April 28, 2011 § 5 Comments

Hi everyone!  Guess what? I’m alive.  Yes, reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.  Now I do sort of feel like April pushed me down, rifled my pockets, took my lunch money, and then kicked me around for a while–or maybe I feel like April stuffed me in the washing machine and set it on the spin cycle.  Or maybe I feel like April tied me to a carousel horse and then turned the ride up to maximum speed while playing the Addams Family theme on a set of bagpipes.

…I should probably stop, because I can keep coming up with dumb similes forever. Let me sum up: April was really busy and really fun and really busy and now it is almost over.

And by the way I was doing a craft thing.  Now, I was really excited about my craft for April, because I was excited about my person for April, because she’s one of my favorite people out of all the people that I’ve ever known, and I had a really great idea. I am making her a really cool thing.  But it is…time consuming. And hard. And…not finished.  But that’s not the deal. The Deal is that I make a thing and send it by the end of the month, and that is what I plan to do.

Only it won’t be The Really Cool Thing.  It will be Another Cool Thing.  I just need to figure out what it is. And in the meantime, because it’s better late than never, I’d like you to meet Nia!

What is your name? Stefania, but I usually just go by “Nia.”

Do you have a blog or website? Sure do! I’ve been taking a break from it to write on my novel but I should have a new post soon!

What is your quest? To glorify God in all that I do. Mostly through making and raising adorable babies and working hard to love and honor my husband, Ben, the best man I know. Did I just make myself sound like a kooky, baby-factory, house-slave? That’s not really want I meant to do…you’d probably have to read my blog to get an accurate idea of what I do.

What is your favorite color? At the moment? Really feeling green. I have a lot of favorites though. Also really liking some oranges right now, which is new to me. I’ve always hated orange! I still think construction cones are obnoxious (but I suppose they’re that way on purpose).

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? I usually get up and blearily stumble around while my husband does the majority of getting the kids fed and ready for the day, then after I feel I’ve put in a credible amount of effort for the morning I take a nap, then I feed the kiddos lunch, put them down for their naps, make myself lunch (it’s usually at least 1:30pm by this point), THEN I get to my favorite part of the day. I usually write, or blog, or follow some creative pursuit in the comfort of my bedroom for several hours before the kids get back up. Then I play with the kids, wait for hubby to show up, do dinner, put kids to bed, then I reeeeaaaaad. I read for way too long. So long that I’m certain the next day I’ll be tired and have to blearily stumble through the morning. (Sometimes I watch tv episodes in marathon instead of reading, but the result is the same)

What is your creative outlet? My novel and my blog. When one of them becomes too much of a chore I get to feel rebellious by working on the other. It’s kind of win/win for me.

What have you been reading and/or watching lately? What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? I’ve been reading Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instrument series because I really liked her book Clockwork Angel (and the two series intertwine) — it’s been okay. I just finished reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time. I really enjoyed it! I have several favorite shows I watch on a regular basis, several of them in the Thursday NBC comeday line-up, but the show that’s currently sucking up my time is Lie To Me. Really catching!

What inspires you at the moment? YA Fiction inspires me the most. Sometimes because I see something so brilliant that I want to do something equally brilliant…other times because I read stuff so terrible I’m determined to single-handedly fix the entire genre.

I have known Nia for many moons, and we have had many shenanigans together.  It has been awesome.

L>R: Nia, Charis (a grey eyed girl), and Angel
Look, we are so tiny and geeky! This was one of my first forays into costuming.

Craft Challenge: March is for Suzy

March 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hey, remember that craft challenge I’m doing? Yeah, I totally remember it to.

It’s March! For another week! So before we run out of time, there’s someone you need to meet….

What is your name? Suzannah.

Do you have a blog or website? Oh, yes, please. I write about my favourite books at In Which I Read Vintage Novels (

What is your quest? TO SEEK THE HOLY GRAIL. To reintroduce the world to the underappreciated novels of John Buchan. To make the world a more beautiful place. To get the most out of life. To build the Kingdom of God.

What is your favorite color?I’d answer like last month’s lady–Colour is my favourite colour, and I’d wave an arm in the direction of Kaffe Fassett–but she already did that. My favourite colour is blue. If bright, I love it next to an equally bright red; if muted, I have a passion for silky watercoloury blue/brown streaks.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? I’m unemployed at the moment, so I live quietly at home improving myself like the busy bee. I’ll get up in the morning, go for a walk, do some housework, teach my littlest sister Latin, do a little sewing (I’m teaching myself pattern drafting), and then in the afternoon either: work on sewing; work on my book “Australian Civil Government and Constitutional Law for Newbies”; continue teaching my littlest sister; work on the last subject of my law degree; work on my fledgling proofreading/English tutoring home business; or do anything else that needs doing. Then after dinner we usually listen to history lectures, and I’ll knit. There’s usually time to read a chapter or two of a book before I go to bed.

Unemployed doesn’t mean unoccupied!

What is your creative outlet? Oh, I’m a Jack of all trades. My passion is writing sensational novels, but I also knit furiously, cook, sew, play the French Horn, dance (swing), and I’ve been known to paint a portrait. Oh, and I have humble ambitions to make movies.

What have you been reading and/or watching lately? What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? Right now I’ve taken a break from “The Tyrannicide Brief” about the trial of Charles I to dip into Buchan’s “Salute to Adventurers”, a book which brings unspeakable joy to my soul.
My favourite new book might be “The Rosemary Tree” by Elizabeth Goudge . It’s a gentle, deeply profound novel of memory and pain, set in real life but written like a fantasy.
I haven’t been watching many things, but right now my favourite movie might be “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I’ve also been enjoying “The Thin Man” and, so far, one of its sequels.

What inspires you at the moment? Artistically, I’m as usual trying to create a medieval/Georgian/vintage-influenced wardrobe. Those three periods–think Narnia, Marie-Antoinette, and Myrna Loy–are my favourites as far as fashion go.
My favourite artist is Kaffe Fassett He’s a textile artist who designs for the English company Rowan; and his use of colour simply has to be seen to be believed. He turns a quilt, or a tapestry, or a jumper into a huge canvas of colours ranging from the subtle to the retina-searing.

Suzy’s craft is ACTUALLY ALREADY DONE! Woohoo!  …now it just needs to go into a box, and I need to make it to the post office, and the craft will begin its long journey to Australia….

Craft Challenge: February–This is for Jo!

March 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Happy February, Jo!

I spent most of February making Jo a Skeleton Key beret–it took all month because I may have started over more than once.  Ahem.  First I repeated a section of the chart and had to rip out an entire inch, then I realized that Something Was Wrong with a section of cables and it just didn’t look right, so I tinked back each cabled section (that’s six sections, by the way), re-did the cables, then carried my stitches back up.

Which sounds like an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon to everyone who isn’t familiar with this fancy knitting slang, so allow me to sum up: I have wicked awesome skills. Fear me.

I picked this hat for Jo because of the beautiful cables, which are evocative of (wait for it) skeleton keys of the ancient and ornate variety:

However, despite the fact that the hat took me ages, it sort of felt insufficient for Jo’s Craft–in case you didn’t know this with me, my philosophy seems to be ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing’.  I decided that there was not enough awesome.

There can never be too much awesome.

The only problem was that February was almost over, and I didn’t have much time left to make additional things.  All of my ideas were much too complicated, until I hit upon the perfect thing–I would make a tentacle lady! inspired by this!

Except I decided that I wanted my lady to have something better than a slit up her skirt. I wanted it to actually swivel open on little brads! And her arm should move as well!  …was I supposed to be keeping things simple because of time constraints?  No, surely not. That is way out of character for me.

I based my lady on a vintage illustration, which I traced and colored, altering it as I needed to allow the movement I planned.

And speaking of movement:

Happy February, Jo!

When the Old Ones return, you will probably be spared.


Craft Challenge: February is for Jo!

February 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

I know, I know, February is almost over, but things have been hectic! I’ve been working on something for a neat lady, though, and it’s about time that you all met her!

What is your name? Jo(lene), or, alternately, “that girl with the weird hair/that girl with the bicycle”.

Do you have a blog or website (or Tumblr, Twitter, etc.) that you’d like me to link? As I have a certain… not to say addiction… to test-driving nearly every new blogging platform that floats my way, I could give a rather ridiculous list, but you can mostly find me at Twitter, LiveJournal, and Tumblr. I also run a fashion blog, Her Kirtle Green, and have music for sale at Bandcamp. (NOTE FROM CHARIS: You should all go and check out all of those things, and buy music, because it is awesome)

What is your quest? To get out of small-town Pennsylvania, become a librarian, acquire several more cats, and build a reputation among neighbourhood children as that mad lady in the creepy house who is totally a witch. Also to read all the books, learn all the things, and kiss somebody marvelous someday.

What is your favorite color? COLOUR IS MY FAVOURITE COLOUR. No, but seriously: I love colour. Colour makes me happy. I’m particularly drawn to deep, rich, earthy colours — crimson, plum, goldenrod, sage, turquoise, pumpkin — and I find brown, grey, and cream to be highly underrated. Black is quite nice as well. I love finding the balance between stimulating and clashing when mixing colours and patterns.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? As I’m currently in an in-between stage trying to work out where to go next and how, my schedule’s a bit loose — but things you can find me doing on a regular basis include baking, reading, more reading, tripping over cats, bicycling around town, writing, playing with my four-year-old sister, writing, researching for writing projects, making music, accidentally injuring myself in increasingly embarrassing ways, and even more reading. I play at a local coffeeshop every Friday night as well. They give me free drinks and a place to nest and gloriously fast wi-fi and I give them free publicity; it’s an awesome trade.

What is your creative outlet? I’m a writer by nature, and, I hope, by trade someday; I’m currently working on an alternate history pre-WWI vampire novel and an old-fashioned YA werewolf novel (with bonus Wild Hunt) set in the 1940s. (The latter setting may be entirely an excuse to dress all of my characters in tweed and flat caps and wellies, but I’ll never tell.) I also take photographs, bake (and eat), and enjoy designing graphics for my personal internet haunts (and occasionally when my dad needs a poster), and while I’m not very talented at crafty things I love to work with my hands — paints, clay, crayons, and the like feel fantastic, even if what I make with them is rarely impressive or useful. I’d like to learn to knit or crochet and sew a little, especially to alter my clothes and make little things like detachable collars. I also see the human body as a fantastic palate for art, as might be evidenced by my eccentric fashion sense and multi-coloured hair (and while I haven’t any tattoos or other body modifications I love looking at people who do).

What have you been reading and/or watching lately?  What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? Well, the library’s run out of books again, so my reading supply’s gone a bit dry recently, but books I’ve fallen in love with in the last several months include Peter S. Beagle’s Tamsin (my first re-read felt like a homecoming, which is always a sign of a personal classic), Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy (book three is out in June!), Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, Barbara Hambly’s vampire now-trilogy (linguist/retired spy and his badass scientist wife deal with vampires in Edwardian England; it is EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED), R.J. Anderson’s faery books, Eva Ibbotson’s deeply hilarious and intuitive and touching historical novels, Alberto Manguel’s books about books, Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s hilariously macabre books on grammar, and Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel The Arrival. Filmwise, my tastes run a ridiculous gamut from Disney’s Tangled to Wim Wenders’ Der Himmel uber Berlin; other stuff I’ve been loving lately includes Moulin Rouge!, Children of Heaven, How to Train Your Dragon, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Young Victoria. Television-wise, I’ve been a bit busy — I marathon shows at ridiculous rates and have been rewatching Chuck lately as it’s a bit of a happy place, while Fringe (OLIVIA DUNHAM AND HER FACE AND HER EMOTIONS AND HER ENTIRE EXISTENCE) and The Vampire Diaries (awesome girls who love each other!!) are pretty much my favourite things currently airing, along with Being Human and Doctor Who (come baaaack!). And trust me, that is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Television is bad enough; if I tried to tell you about all of the books I’ve ever loved we’d still be here this time next year and that would have been the prefacing remarks. I REALLY LIKE ALL FORMS OF STORYTELLING MEDIA, AS YOU CAN SEE.

What inspires you at the moment? Oh, lots of things — sunlight (it’s hard to come by in February), Japanese mori-girl fashion, goth and steampunk fashion, music festivals, freak folk, multi-instrumental confessional folk like Mumford & Sons and Over the Rhine and the Civil Wars and Lisa Hannigan, storytelling musicians like Vienna Teng and Richard Shindell and Sarah Slean, neo-swing, neo-tradfolk, proper tradfolk, ballads (Tam-Lin is demonstrably my favourite), tea (especially the Neipalm blend of Earl Grey and Oriental Spice), colours and textures (my bedroom is a pleasantly cluttered conglomeration of objects and contrasts), kickass shoes that make me feel like a heroine when I walk in them, my cats, long aimless walks, the atmosphere at our little coffeeshop, old photographs (and when I have trouble getting into an aesthetic mood for writing I tend to trawl Flickr or Tumblr or similarly image-driven websites for inspiration), eavesdropping (my earliest and oldest and most accomplished hobby), French Roast in the morning, Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction and nonfiction, really feral music full of clapping and stomping and group harmonies, lists of words, new places, T.S. Eliot, stars, cities, graffiti, really good food (the Orange Crème Dream I get at the coffeeshop sometimes is profoundly inspiring, as is my mother’s Hungarian goulash; I am food’s most ardent fan), bits and bobs and scraps of ideas and information, steamingly hot showers, those underwater moments between waking and sleeping when one’s mind flutters free, Neil Gaiman’s hair (does it belong to him or does he belong to it?!), any breath of spring I can possibly snatch at the moment.

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