I recently completed this Tardis or, as Wikipedia defines it, Time and Relative Dimension iSpace, a time-machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television program Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.

I decided to use a pattern for this one because (1) life has been a bit hectic, (2)  sometimes there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, and (3) because I always like following a pattern to learn how to do something I’m not sure how to do. Like when I used to docent at the Orlando Museum of Art, I would periodically tag along on another docent’s tour to get a fresh perspective on the same material. Other docents, who had exactly the same materials and tools to work with would always interpret the tour in their own way and I would always come away with new facts, wordings, stories, and group management tactics that I could then incorporate into my own tours.

I have that same experience when following along with someone else’s patterns. I always learn some new crocheting trick or just another way to accomplish the same end that I find helpful in my own future pattern designs.  It’s fun (and sometimes frustrating) to follow along on someone else’s pattern and think, “Why did they design it this way? I definitely wouldn’t have done that” or, “wow, what a good idea!” It’s also fun to see that, even when I follow someone else’s pattern, my amigurumi still looks like I made it. It’s interesting that within this “craft” I can still identify my own style.

I don’t work in square shapes very often, so I wanted to see how someone else tackled the design. I really like how it all came together and I never would have been able to figure out how she did that cool stairstep effect for the roof without that pattern! I probably would have made several flat squares that I would have, then, stacked and sewn together.

The windows were inset into the crochet work, too, which I’m usually afraid to do. This pattern really showed me that color changes are really not that hard. It felt strange to make something so big (nearly 14 inche tall!), with acrylic yarn instead of cotton, with a G hook instead of a D. Tardis taught me that it’s good to work differently than you’re used to every once in awhile!

I love the cute little typed sign she included in the pattern, too! If you’re interested, this Tardis pattern was purchased from Sara’s Crochet Couture on Etsy. I stayed pretty true to the pattern except that I felt the Tardis needed it’s little topper, so I created that, myself, with a light turquoise bead and a couple round crocheted disks that caged in the bead as I sewed them on and knotted tightly on the very top.

This Tardis is for my favorite Dr. Who fan and a really great friend, Rhea. I have only seen one episode of the new Dr. Who, but I know that a properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. I hope this Tardis transports Rhea safely to China where she’ll be moving very soon. I’ll miss her, but I’m glad she’ll have a little Happy Handmade creation to bring along with her, since I won’t fit in her suitcase. <3


Bumblebee Birthday Sneak Peek!

I’ve been a busy bee getting ready for a big bumblebee birthday party for the two greatest kids I know. The hot glue gun has been hard at work. I’ve raided my stores of crafty goods for pipe cleaners, googly eyes, cardstock, and puff balls. I even busted out the dusty sewing machine!

Here’s a sneak peek into all the crafty, black and yellow, birthday goodness.

Now I’ve got to stop with the crafts and head into the kitchen. What’s a party without food?

Oh yeah…and clean the house…I seem to always forget about that part.

Buddy Walk Buddies!

I was recently asked to make some happy, starry, blue and yellow buddies for a friend of mine who is admirably heading up the first annual Buddy Walk at Daniel Boone High School on October 28, 2012 from 12-4 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Here are the sample amigurumi creations I sent her. I’ll probably be making lots of these things and am so proud and excited that they will be given out and sold at the event. I’m honored to be able to be there in crocheted blue and yellow spirit.



“If it works, if it fails, I’ll run with you”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about running away; I crave a clean slate, some new scenery, and an adventure or ten. I’m so tempted to pack this family up and head someplace far away. I can’t do that right now, but I can dream and that dream can inspire me. This is the soundtrack to that dream:


This art project is a mish-mash of ideas inspired by Alisa Burke’s giant written-all-over canvases, to a failed art project of mine that I wanted to give new life, to my recent cardboard craze. I expected to like the finished product more than I do, but  I didn’t expect the art process to be fulfilling and it definitely was. The project became a symbol of everything current about my life and my actions towards the painting felt like a sort of therapy for helping me through this time of uncertainty and change. I’ll elaborate as I go.

As I previously discussed in my kitchen art blog post, I almost bought a canvas for this project idea. The problem, at the time, was that I wanted a huge canvas and those tend to be expensive. Then my own self-doubt took over and convinced me I didn’t want to ruin an expensive canvas if this idea didn’t work. Instead, I found the perfect solution: a giant piece of cardboard in my garage. In fact, there were two identical giant pieces of cardboard, each with a front and back, in case I “messed up.” The expense pressure was gone. In fact, the cardboard was the perfect foundation upon which to build a piece about running away.

Then I got to rummage through my craft area for supplies. I have been thinking a lot about my arts and crafts supplies and desk because of the threat of having to pack it all up should we have to move again someday. The next move we make will mostly likely not be across county lines but across many state lines and some of the supplies I have have moved with me for, no exaggeration, decades. I have probably spent more time, money, and energy, packing up,moving and storing my art supplies than actually using them.

I am a bit of a cheapskate. I don’t like repurchasing something once I’ve already owned and lost or given it away. I don’t like getting rid of something I’ve purchased because it reminds me that I wasted money on it. I don’t like when I am in the middle of a project and wish I still had the button or particular sheet of paper I got rid of  because it would have been perfect.

If we do move someday, we will most likely go somewhere, unlike here, where there are many arts stores, often more specialized stores that sell a variety of one thing so I won’t have to hoard my things so much. I also have to remind myself that, most often, the supplies I currently own aren’t the ones I actually want to use when I have an idea for something I want to make. I end up going to the craft store anyway and just add to the piles of things rather than subtract.

This project, however, didn’t cost a thing and used minimal supplies. I was freed from the financial burden that often comes with creating.

I started thinking about the words from a song I’ve always liked called “Run” by Ben Kweller and decided  to use those words as the basis for my project. I started thinking of ways to add a textured background to the piece and thought back to my kitchen art project with the coupons slightly showing through the white gesso background and thought I’d do that again, only this time I used maps, train tickets, newspaper cutouts, and other ephemera collected from my past travels.

In the end, you can barely see them through all the stuff on top, but I know they are there, and that’s what matters. I lightly glued the ephemera in place and then gessoed over the top lighter in some areas than others so my favorite little pieces and details would show through.

Then I took a bunch of acrylic paint in all different colors and my cardboard background, now dry and dumped them all in the dirt and grass of my backyard. I then proceeded to dump, smear, fling, and brush on paint until my hands were multicolored.

Then I took off my shoes, dug my feet into the dirt, and ran across my cardboard several times. Then I flung dirt onto the paint. Rubbed sand and grass into it’s surface, dripped some water on, and aged another part until I felt satisfied that my canvas was good and representative of my traveling adventures.

For some reason, as I flung and smashed and ran, I started talking to myself about releasing my anxiety with every dash across the cardboard. I took out aggression on that thing. And, when it was finished, I had strangely found a little peace in that ugly, now warping, cardboard scrap.

Later, the pasted on paper pieces pulled away, the paint sunk into the cardboard and left the surface a bit dull, the dirt and sand brushed off. Though, visually, the board was not what I’d hoped it would be, emotionally and symbolically, that ugly thing meant a lot.

I put it aside for weeks, promising myself I’d write the lyrics on top of it, but I never felt inclined, afraid it would be too ugly to hang in the giant empty wall in my house. I also couldn’t decide which part of the song to use and wasn’t sure if I should just free-write or pre-plan where the letters would go.  But one day the kids wanted to play outside and the time felt right, so I grabbed black paint and a sponge brush and said to myself, “Who cares?” I started writing from the very first line of the song.

I’m a planner. I want to control every single thing that happens in my life. But, for some reason, I did NOT want to plan out what I wrote on that cardboard. So I just started writing.

When I ran out of room on one line, I’d move down to the next line. I figured I’d see how much I could fit when I got down to the bottom. Sure enough, when I got towards the bottom I realized exactly what would fit and it fit perfectly.

It doesn’t exactly look like I’d imagined. It doesn’t hang quite right. It doesn’t even include some of the best lines from the song! But it felt really good to make.

I may not get to run away right now. Or maybe I will! The point is, I found a way to run in my own backyard.

And this painting, now hanging on my wall, won’t ever let me forget it.


Right Now Happy Is…

a smily, blushing star and curlicues…

finding treasures while wearing new dresses among purple flowers….

seals on San Francisco’s Pier 39…awesome in both real and Lego form….

Baby’s first cupcake and black and white polka dots….

inspirational, beautiful books….

Art appreciation….

dreamy lavender and hidden, handmade treasures…

Complete involvement and focus on a creative activity…

while, of course, getting messy…

…and the Curiosity rover, watching Olympic gymnastics, blueberry pecan Heartsong cookies from the new food truck in town, bumblebee birthday party crafting, a trip to Legoland, and this recent Etsy review that made me feel awesome and definitely Happy:

“This woman is amazing! I custom ordered an SCV (a unit from the video game StarCraft II), and it came out PERFECTLY. She’s also very responsive to communications and provides excellent service. If you’re in the market for a stuffed… anything, you should see what Jess can do for you. You will not be disappointed.”

Thanks so much for those super kind words!

What is your Happy right now?