So it’s been a busy year (and …uh… change) since Don’t Quit Your Day Job went on hiatus. I’ve been distracted by improv and a new-found fiber arts gang and all manner of other mischief, but the biggest, most all-consuming distraction of the last year has been the addition of a truly precious little girl to the family, and my big sister’s long-overdue promotion to “Mom”. So she and her cousin are the stars of the comic marking their aunt’s triumphant return to late nights cursing at my computer and unsteady drawing hand. You all remember Missy. Now meet JoJo.
I have a whole pile of new things in store, so stick around friends.
Once again, I am showcasing the work of friends who have been more productive than I have.
GlintGear is home to a collection of stunning bags made by my dear friend Celena. She uses a variety of fabrics including eye-catching vinyls and hand-painted canvas, styled with a touch of classic deco and a whole lot of play. If I had the funds, I’d just buy out her whole stock, but since I can’t, I’ll just encourage you, dear reader, to go check out her beautiful stuff.
Eleven Three Designs is the outlet for my friend and creating mentor Jason. His primary focus has been really badass resin fantasy masks, but lately he’s stumbled into the customized unicorn Christmas tree topper business. Yeah, you read that right. They’re funky and unexpected and just the thing your home needs for the holidays. Lucky for you, they’re also available at his Etsy shop.
FrenchAnna is your source for elegant, well-crafted jewelry with a little genuine French flair. Filigrees, chandeliers, felted, gold, silver, brass, stones, crystals, pearls… Anna’s work is gorgeous and varied – so varied, in fact, that her unique fiber jewelry has its own home at Magical Whimsical.
The name is absolutely appropriate – I’ve never seen anything quite like the earrings she makes with these felted beads. They’re big and bold, and weigh next to nothing on your ears. Eccentric yet practical, just like their designer!
Get to shoppin’!
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Improvised Charles Dickens? What could possibly go wrong?
I am somewhat relieved to say that rehearsals have not actually devolved into Dickensian Speech for Sport …yet.
I’ve had the privilege of lighting this show, and it has been one ridiculous and amazing Victorian-era tale after another. We’ve had a happy family of morticians, a secret society of lamplighters, and one ill-advised voyage to Australia. There are top hats and tragic deaths, fancy accents and small children who speak above their age and station, all served up with the usual spontaneity and mischief that come with improvised narrative.
We will round the halfway point of the run this weekend, and I can’t wait to see what the second month will bring.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Apologies for the low quality. The last-minute gag seemed like a good idea. Drawing a comic with the fancy pens and India ink seemed like a good idea. Doing both at the same time… did not quite produce the desired results, but I didn’t really have time to start over before Halloween was over. So here you go – a little window into my drawing process.
I may feel compelled to clean it up later in the week, if I have time.
Speaking of time, I guess now is as good a time as any to make this official:
The comic will be on a sort of hiatus for a while. The holidays are always insane for me, and this year I’m even more behind on projects than usual, so the comic can’t have a monopoly on my precious evening hours. I may do a low-tech, scan-in comic like this one when inspiration strikes.
More importantly, I have a large backlog of completed projects that I haven’t blogged about yet. So there should be more non-comic posts coming in the next month or two!
I’ve also been wanting to step back for a while and work on the comic – I already have some upgrades in the works for Page and Karen, and I have some new characters I’ve been itching to add. So look forward to that in the new year!
I would say that I’ve created a monster, but I don’t think I can rightfully claim credit for the Knitting Monster that has grown up in the place where Dear Roommie used to reside. For starters, she’s knitting and showing no signs of stopping to pick up a crochet hook for anything more sophisticated than tassels.
Then again, I started out knitting and terrified of crochet, too…
Oh dear, what I have done?
Anyway! So I made the squid for this Secret Santa thing for her. She has not yet made it to a post office to ship said squid to said Secret Santa person, so she decided that as penance for her postal tardiness, she should make a little something extra to go along with the late gift. Naturally, she decided that the time had come in her knitting adventures to make… a Jayne hat.
For those of you uninitiated in the Ways of the Brown Coats, Jayne is a particularly ridiculous fictional mercenary type in a 2002 science fiction series called Firefly, created by Joss “I Like It When Fox Eats My Babies” “The Man Who Made Buffy” Whedon. In one of the last episodes, he receives a care package from home that includes a hand-knit hat from his mother. As you can see, the hat is so ugly it’s cute, and since the episode’s first airing, the head- and heart-warming monstrosity has inspired many a knitting nerd to create their own, because it is, indeed, the sweetest hat ever.
Now that I have the explanation out of the way, words cannot express the pride I feel today as I bring you the world debut of Knitting Monster’s very first Jayne Hat.
I mean, the craftsmanship alone puts the original to shame (which really is the point, I think), but then it’s hilariously over-sized, and she had a complete runaway with herself making the pom pom on top.
Secret Santa Dude, I hope you appreciate the love and nerdity that went into your scandalously late gifts.
I have saved the crown jewel(s) of my Christmas crafting blitz for last!
For the last several years I have made ornaments for the extended family. I’m not entirely sure how it got started, but I think it started with kiddie crafts (jingle bell wreaths and the like), then morphed into very serious jewelry projects, then the (now infamous) Year of the Scarves. Then I put my head back on straight and went back to relatively simple ornaments that could be mass-produced and shipped to the various corners of the country where my family now resides.
My original plan for this year involved lots and lots of tiny cross-stitched patterns, but when I backed myself into a month-long window in which I had to finish all of them, I decided to shelve that particular idea until next year, and go for something simpler.
My new project ultimately led me to this:
What is this mess of colors?
Why, units for origami trisoctahedrons, of course!
Despite the terrifying number of pieces made through very repetitive folding, I had a lot of fun making these. I had to work out my color-matching muscles again, and I long ago discovered that, despite the ridiculous ease of folding paper just the way the instructions say, origami is a very good means of impressing people.
So that’s all my Christmas crafting for you, friends. I have lots of new projects to work on in the new year, but I’m done with my daily posts for a little while.
Once more for good measure –
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A couple of years ago I made a messenger bag from No. 18 nylon thread. I’ve carried it to work every day since, and it hasn’t shown a bit of wear or stretch. When the apocalypse comes, it will just be the cockroaches and my bag left wandering the earth.
Sadly, working with the stuff probably took a year off my hands. The hardiness of the thread also means it won’t stretch the way most yarn does, so it took a lot of force to work every stitch. By the time I finished the bag, I was having trouble typing.
I swore I’d never work with the stuff again.
Recently, for reasons I can’t quite explain, I decided to give it one more shot. I bought up three spools and made myself a satchel.
I shall call it… the Crazy Bag.
I needed a good carry-around bag that is slightly less massive than the messenger bag. Since I was already ad-libbing, I took the opportunity to finally work out the zig-zag pattern that had eluded me for the last two years.
The best part is, I can still move all my fingers!
Merry Christmas to me!
We interrupt this crafting blitz for a musical interlude.
I mentioned the oboe that had to make it through airport security. The reason it had to come with me at all was the potential trouble I would likely be in had I not. You see, I am named for each of my parents’ younger sisters. One is The Crafter, and the other is The Musician. Aunt Musician came to visit while I was up the mountain.
Aunt Musician was the child prodigy, picking out the tunes my mother and her older sister were learning in piano lessons before she was tall enough to actually see the keys on the piano. She is, needless to say, an accomplished pianist, and really likes making music with the various and sundry musicians in our family. I’m sure she would have understood if I didn’t want to cart the thing all the way up there, but I’ve been looking for a good
excuse opportunity to play, and we always have a good time together.
I was very silly and neglected to bring along any of my sheet music with accompaniments, so we made due with Mom’s collection of old church hymnals and a quick lesson in playing Beatles tunes by ear. The latter was moderately successful, as she was kind enough to transpose into playable keys and largely picked out the songs with easier melodies. (As a side note, “Because” is not nearly as easy to pick out on instruments as voice.)
We did not make it very far into the usual Christmas carols before she started trolling the hymnal index for interesting composers. I have to admit, I had somehow missed that a few of the hymns that had become staples in my church growing up were composed by Gustav “y’know… The Planets guy” Holst.
Then she got all excited finding the Ralph Vaughan Williams hymns. For the most part, they weren’t the most familiar songs. While I was impressed by their musicality, and had little trouble sight reading the music on the oboe, I couldn’t help but notice that some were rather difficult to sing. Then a nagging sense of familiarity finally floated to the surface, and I realized where I’d heard these before. The minister at my old home church is also a classically trained musician. I’d always assumed that he wasn’t intentionally picking out the hardest hymns for us to sing each week, but I figured they must be old standards from the churches he grew up in.
As I sat there listening to my family – many of them seasoned church choir members – stumbling over these melodies, I realized that our dear pastor must have used the very same method of choosing hymns that Aunt Musician was demonstrating. The old band nerd probably flipped back to the index and picked out his favorite composers, too.
Besides my moment of revelation, the evening was well spent. The eclectic music selection and familial revelry made for great entertainment, and I really can’t emphasize enough what a special treat it is to play with my aunt, since we live so far apart, but collaborate so easily.
I was even pleased to see that my poor unpracticed embouchure was able to hold up for more than thirty seconds, and my fingers could still find all the right keys. Now I just need to find more time to practice, and remember to take the bloody sheet music with me next time.
My niece has a wiggle. I suspect it will soon morph into more nefarious actions like a crawl and then a walk, but for now, she is only able to use it to
terrorize explore the area directly around her and to rid herself of unwanted garments. If you put a hat on her head, she will pull it off. If you put socks on her feet, she will kick her tiny legs with such verve that the footwear just flies right off. Then, of course, her head and feet are cold.
Last year for Christmas, I made a set of slippers for my brother and his wife, then used the leftover yarn from both to make a tiny pair of slippers for their as-yet unborn child. They were adorable in their smallness, but ultimately turned out to be too small by this winter, so I decided this year to make something a little more versatile – slipper socks. While I was at it, I figured I’d make a matching hat. Not that she needs another one, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.
My brief visit with them just before Christmas inspired me to make some adjustments to my original plan. I wouldn’t just make cute things. I’d make cute practical things.
Thus, I created wiggle-resistant infant wear:
I took a good deal of crap from some of my family for taking so long to finish such tiny garments, but I finally completed the set a few days after Christmas, and delivered them tonight in my brief stop between the airport and I-10.
Blessedly, everything fit (at least for the time being), and I even got my niece’s seal of approval – the hat was not on her head for a full minute before one of the ties was in her mouth.
This one isn’t technically done yet, but I am so thrilled with it, I just have to post it early.
Many moons ago, Dear Roommie spotted this crochet magazine on a rack at Joann’s.
She bought it and begged me to make her the “Windmill Bag” on the cover. I said I would.
While I was at the craft fair over the summer, I stopped into the local yarn-vana and picked up two balls of a really stunning hand-spun and dyed wool blend, and a cashmere merino silk aran blend in a complementary color. My plan was to make a smaller version of the bag as her Christmas present.
Naturally, I had to show her the yarn immediately upon my return in August, but I didn’t get the bag (sans handles) finished until tonight.
Because I was working with such a small amount of yarn, I obviously had to scale down the pattern. It’s actually very easy – just four long rectangular pieces joined together at their ends with the sides sewn up. To scale down, I just made the panels with fewer stitches across and fewer rows long.
The only part left is the handles. When carried, it should look most like this:
I do not have a reaction yet, since Dear Roommie will not be able to see this in person until I get back to Texas late tomorrow. I promise updates when the bag is actually completed.