Homestead: I SOLD OUT a.k.a. another Door Wreath

2 Sep

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack. It’s been a heck of a 19(?) months – I started a new gig, I grew my Etsy shop, and I hand-made lots of fun goodies.

I missed you guys! So I’m gonna see if I can work regular blog posts back in to my life. To ease back in to it, let’s start by talking about the time that I SOLD OUT. And of course it involves a door wreath.

So, this past spring, I wanted a new spring wreath for door. (What is up with my semi-obsession with door wreaths?) I didn’t have a lot of extra time to come up with a new wreath design then put it all together, but purchasing a pre-made wreath kit felt like cheating. But then I came across that beautiful Succulent Wreath Kit from Paper Source. The pic on the package looked really good! And a kit *would* save me lots of time! And succulents aren’t season-specific, so I could leave it up all spring and summer until it was time to put up the Halloween wreath! Yippee!! Feeling fully justified, I took the plunge and picked up a wreath kit.

ps-wreath1

Here’s how it came out. I think it looks pretty decent! And after a few humid summer months, it’s still holding up pretty well.

But it took aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages to make. Punching the petal shapes out of the sheets of paper took a surprisingly long time, and then most of the petals had to be cut in to a point. Pretty dang tedious and time-consuming! I admit that I saved time on designing something as well as planning/purchasing materials, plus it came with a pre-cut cardboard circle (which are usually a pain to try to make on your own). But I wish I was prepared for how much time this would take up. An estimated time somewhere on the packaging would have been a great help.

At the end of the day, whatever, I have a cool paper wreath on my front door and it looks lovely! But I’ll definitely think twice about purchasing another wreath kit, because if I’m going to be spending tons of time on making something, I may as well spend it on something worthwhile by making something original instead.

Shop Talk: Mini Valentines

4 Feb

I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but, weirdly enough, I do like me some valentines! Especially those old-timey ones with terrible puns and adorable drawings on them. (Do you guys remember the Vintage Valentines Wreath I made last year??) In the spirit of pun-i-ness, I decided to create some of my own little valentines.

ckurpeski_bat

This is the first valentine that I made. I always liked the Valentine-y greeting “Batty for you”, so I decided to draw a lovely bat delivering a box of chocolates.

ckurpeski_bee

Then I drew this happy little bee wearing happy little boots. I kind of imagine that high fives are being given with both of its non-flower-holding hands.

ckurpeski_goldfish

I was thinking “great catch” because of the whole fishing thing (though do people fish for goldfish?), but I thought it was funny to draw this chipper fishie as a cowboy with a lasso (to “catch” their valentine).

ckurpeski_deer

And here we have a hopeful deer delivering a valentine. Here’s hoping he also gets an “x” and “o” in return!

ckurpeski_minivals

I had these printed on the same textured cream-colored card stock that I use for my greeting cards. To figure out what size they should be, I found small envelopes that I thought worked well (#3 coin envelopes did the trick). They’re definitely too small to send in the mail, but they’re perfect for hand-delivering to your favorite valentine(s?).

These designs are all available in my shop: www.etsy.com/listing/121079409/mini-valentines-day-valentines-4-pack. There are other Valentine’s Day cards available as well; they’re all available in the “greeting card” section: www.etsy.com/shop/absolutelyicebox?section_id=12594395.

By the way: Since I never throw anything out, I still have some my favorite valentines I got from my classmates when I was a kid. I keep these two up in my studio:

ckurpeski_faveval

On the left: Hulk Hogan! I got this in 1st or 2nd grade from a boy named Mike. We had to give everyone in our class a valentine, and I’m so glad that I was the lucky recipient of this unintentional hilariousness. It makes me giggle every time I see it. (I’m giggling right now!) The one on the right is from my good friend Sarah from when we went to school together. This one makes me so happy!

Homestead: First Curtains

23 Jan

Early last year, I took out my new sewing machine and made some curtain panels. It was really fun! I pretty much followed this tutorial found on Design*Sponge, and made small adjustments where needed: designsponge.com/2010/02/sewing-101-curtains.html.

I started out with this little set for the front door. I wanted something that gave us some privacy, but also let in some light. And this cute cotton fabric did the trick! I’m just having issues photographing the finished panels. This angle looks awkward.

This angle’s also awkward, and the window is being especially reflective.

I tried closing the door to get a shot of the curtains, but now it just looks like I live in a dark hovel. Well, hopefully the combination of these three photos will help give you some idea on how the curtains came out.

The second panel I made was for our workspace. Tim and I have so much stuff that we needed to remove the closet door, so we could actually get in to and utilize the closet. To cover up the mess of art supplies piling up in the closet, I made this curtain panel. Mess, be gone!

Close-up of the adorable fabric.

And finally, I made a curtain panel for our back door. Same deal as the from door: I wanted something that would give us a little privacy, but also let light in (we get great sun coming in from the back yard in the afternoons!). I tied a light green ribbon around the middle. I’m happy that my math and planning skills came together on this one, I really like how it came out.

I wanted to find a fabric design that was nature-inspired without being too flower-y or frill-y. This fits the bill, and also pulls in the pops of green that we have going on in the kitchen color palette. (Not that we have a preconceived or purposeful color palette going on in our house; it’s more like this fabric just happens to jive well with what ended up going on with our kitchen “decor”.)

I really enjoyed making these! And I have lots of future plans for my sewing machine and me. Though I haven’t used it since making these… It’s partly because I’ve been busy with my Etsy shop, but it’s mostly because we got ViVi mid last year, and if she attacks/tries to play with the vacuum cleaner, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when I try to run a large swath of fabric through the sewing machine… We’re working on teaching her that not everything in the world can be a toy or friend to play with, so I’m hoping to be able to pick up machine sewing again soon!

WIPs: Recently Found Failures and Semi-Abandoned Works In Progress

4 Jan

I’ve recently unearthed an impressive amount of knitty projects that have been abandoned, or forgotten, or have just plain failed. So while some people like to take time at the beginning of the new year to reflect on past accomplishments, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at an inventory of unfinished business.

A few years ago, Tim asked me to make him a pair of fingerless gloves so his hands can stay warm while he works on his computer. A year after this request, I started these babies. Two years later, I found this at the bottom of a bag in my workspace at home. So, it looks like I stopped knitting right before where the finger openings start, and the red yarn indicates where the thumb gusset should start. Maybe I stopped making these because I didn’t want to deal with the complexity of making all the digit openings? I do remember that this sport weight yarn seemed to be making a pretty small-sized glove, so if I ever finish these, I may find MYSELF with a new pair of fingerless gloves… Also the material is knitting up pretty stiff, so, yuck. Sorry Tim.

I found another abandoned project for Tim: a C’thulhu dice bag! It was going to be a Christmas present three years ago, but it looks like I only got as far as making the bottom of the bag. I was going to use glow-in-the-dark yarn for the knitted C’thulhu shapes that are supposed to go all around the outside of the bag. Cool, eh?

Here’s the glow-in-the-dark yarn. I remember it was really hard to find, so I better start putting it to good use.

Earlier this year, I made a couple of cute brimmed hats for my little nieces. Well, here are the first iterations of those hats, back when I wanted to use a more neutral color so they would feel more “vintage”-y. You can see that I was trying to work out the sizing of the hats, then once I finally managed to make one in the correct size, I saw that the soft material of the yarn made for a pretty shapeless brim hat. Looks like these guys will be getting frogged.

Oh, geez. So, I wanted to make myself a chunky cable knit hat with a brim. I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, so I took a pattern for an ear-flap hat and figured I could just nix the ear flaps and add a brim. It was only after I made the entire hat that I realized how much that wasn’t going to work out. (It looks like I’m wearing a big licorice bell on my head.) So this photo is for posterity, to remind myself of all of the hard work I did. I’ll be frogging this, and using the yarn to make a different hat. (I finally found a pattern for a chunky cable knit hat with a brim that I like!)

I found this yarn in a drawer. I can’t remember what project it was originally used for, but it definitely looks like it was frogged then hastily rolled back into a ball.

This is the neck opening to the ugly sweater that I started making for ViVi this past Fall. I only got this far before I realized that the pattern I was using didn’t go over the chest and belly. So it was more like a cardigan, which isn’t really that helpful for a dog that gets cold easily.

So I found a new dog sweater pattern! This pattern uses a formula where you can apply your dog’s measurements to create a custom fit. Since taking this photo, I’ve been able to finish knitting the belly section. Now I just have to add the semi-complicated ribbing border… I was hoping to have this sweater done by this past Christmas, but at this rate, I’ll be lucky if it’s done by next Christmas.

Speaking of sweaters, I started making a sweater for myself! I started this at the beginning of last year, in the hopes that I could have a super cute short-sleeved sweater for the beginning of last spring. This is from a vintage pattern called “The Two-Hour Sweater”, and it neglects to instruct what the best way is to sew the sides together, pick up the arm hole stitches, and knit the little sleeves. I guess back then, little details like that were common knowledge?

Perhaps I will spend time this winter figuring out how to finish up this sweater. I do really like all the details of this pattern. Here’s a close-up of the neck hole on the front.

And here’s a close-up of the top of the back.

And a close-up of the ribbing at the bottom.

After I started writing this post, I found this half-finished fingerless mitten. I’d forgotten all about this one! It’s hard to tell because of the tweed, but the bottom of the mitt is all cable-y.

Hmmm, even in a close-up, it’s hard to see the cables. Well trust me, they’re there, and they’re glorious.

And last but not least, here’s a gorgeous hat I started making at the request of my sister Sara. She wanted a big, cable-y hat, and picked out this lovely, soft, grey cotton yarn. I was cable-ing like a madwoman, until I got to this point and realized one of the cables is pointing the wrong way. I have no clue how to successfully frog this only up to the mistake, fix it, then continue on with the hat. So it looks like I’m going to have to frog the whole thing and start again.

So let’s just take a moment to gaze at the lovely, soft cables, before they get annihilated.

Well, that was fun. Let’s see how many more WIPs I can start and then abandon in 2013!

Gifties: Black Kitty Hats

20 Dec

My cute little nieces live in Salem MA, and they have a black cat named Spooky. So of course I wanted to make them black kitty hats for Halloween!

I wanted the girls to have the hats by Halloween, but I started them later than I should have. To ensure that I could quickly make something at the correct size without any time-consuming experimentation, I used this Animal Winter Wear pattern by The Craft Frog because it’s geared specifically for toddlers and children. Also, for the ears, I was inspired by the ones found in this Crazy Cat Hat pattern by Brenda K. B. Anderson.

I should note that I have terrible luck with sizing hats. They rarely come out the size they should, even when I’m following a pattern for a specific size. I’ve tried making swatches to figure out the gauge, but I must be pretty terrible at gauges too because it doesn’t help. But because of time constraints, I think I talked myself in to believing that these would come out perfect the first time.

And here they are! They didn’t come out too badly. Sewing the ears was the toughest part, because I had to make sure they were sewn on symmetrical, and that the ear placement on the hats were relatively similar to each other.

To add a little pop of color to the hats, I crocheted and sewed on these little pink triangles.

It was only until after I finished up the hats that I decided it would be a good idea to test how big they came out, so I attempted to try one on.

Yikes. If its a little too big for a 30-year-old, it’s probably going to be *very* too big on a 3-year-old. Oh well, Halloween was right around the corner, so I sent the hats to my nieces anyways.

I don’t have pics of the girls in their hats, but I can assure you that they’re huge on them.

I love making stuff for my nieces, so they’re going to learn very quickly that “it’s the thought that counts.”

Gifties: Lotsa Love

19 Dec

Here are a few cute things I’ve crocheted for loved ones this year!

Love Cupcake for Kristen

This cupcake was part of a wedding shower gift for my lovely friend Kristen! She’s excellent at making fabulous baked goods, and I couldn’t resist making this little cutie to go with my baking-themed gift.

I used this Mini-Bite Cupcake pattern by Dena Stelly for the cupcake shape, and added a few of my own flourishes.

Since this was part of a wedding gift, I made these little hearts for the cupcake decoration. If this were a real cupcake, these hearts would be little candy conversation hearts, yum.

The little face! This is one of my first attempts at using yarn for the eyes instead of black safety eyes. I thought the black eyes wouldn’t show up as well, plus if this were a real cupcake, I envision the eyes as little daubs of vanilla frosting, yum.

Beet for Sara

My sis Sara loooooves vegetables, so I made her this little beet as a thank you gift!

I used this Beet pattern by NyanPon for the beet shape (I particularly love how the leaf was done!), and added a little face.

I added a loop of string to the top to turn it in to an ornament for her Christmas tree.

Sara shared this pic of the beet on her tree, chillin’ with some glass vegetable ornaments. This little guy sure found the perfect home!

Star Tree Topper for Shelley and Bob

My friends Shell and Bob moved in to a beautiful new home, and they wanted a cute star topper for their Christmas tree. I had to make sure it was large enough for their big, classic tree!

Luckily, I found this Star Stuffie pattern by April Draven, which proved to make the perfect size star for their tree, and I added a smirky smiley face.

I also added a little crochet band to the back of the star so it can stay in place on top of the tree. This lighting makes it look like this little guy has cellulite, haha! I’m not judging; pudgy is cute!

I have lots more to post, but I’m running behind because I’m in the throws of Holiday Crafting! But I hope to be with-it enough to post a little more this week. Til then!

Homestead: Christmas Ornament Wreath

11 Dec

I wasn’t sure what to do for a Christmas-y door wreath this year, so I searched around online for some ideas. I found this DIY Christmas Wreath idea from Shelterness.com, and I thought I’d give it a try! In the past, I had been put off by making an ornament wreath because using hot glue to affix all the ornaments felt too permanent; I knew I wasn’t going to get it right the first time, so I wanted to find a way to do it that was adjustable. And what I like about the Shelterness wreath is that the ornaments go on a rounded-out coat hanger, so you can move them around.

This is what I started out with: some colorful, round, cheap ornaments from the store as well as some smaller, colorful ornaments I already had laying around the house. (I ended up not needing to use them all.)

One of the first things you’re supposed to do is secure the metal caps of the ornaments with a little hot glue. Well, it seemed like the caps were on there pretty tightly, and trying to pry them off just to glue them back on felt a little pointless. So at first I just added a little bit of hot glue around where the caps met the ornaments, but that was eating up so much time. So, I stopped the gluing and started adding the ornaments.

This was actually pretty difficult! At least it was for me. After some experimenting, I finally figured out a decent process of mixing up the sizes to minimize gaps (and unsightly glimpses of coat hanger). It took about three hours! And when I was finished and started to re-twist the to ends of the coat hanger together…

A few ornaments popped off. Nards! So if you ever want to try this out, I highly recommend not skipping the hot gluing step at the beginning.

After all that work, I went to hang it on the door…

And it wouldn’t lay flat against the door. Argh! (At least it looks very festive.)

Well, so what if it doesn’t lay flat against the door, right? That’s easy enough to fix by changing the way the hanger’s set up…

…Except, there’s a bigger issue: The wreath is so big that the front door doesn’t close. Double Argh!

But Tim came up with a great idea:

Instead of a door wreath, it’s now a window wreath!

So I have one pretty festive window, and one pretty stark-looking door.

Shop Talk: Cute’thulhu!

10 Dec

Hey All! I’m really happy to talk to you about my favorite cute little star-spawn:

Cute'thulhu!

Cute’thulhu!

Cute’thulhu is my first foray in to crochet amigurumi design. A couple of years ago, after making a crocheted C’thulhu from a pattern, I thought a smaller-shaped C’thulhu would be even more adorable. I couldn’t find a pattern, so I decided to create my own! After some experimenting, I came up with teeny little Cute’thulhu.

cutethulhu_lil3_ck

He has three little face tentacles, teeny little arm flaps, and a set of itty bitty wings!

He’s about 3.5″ tall, though he’s a bit squish-able and can be slightly flattened or pulled up slightly taller. I used acrylic yarn and hard plastic safety cat eyes, and stuffed him with poly-fil.

I love this little guy so much! When I first created him, I took a bunch of random pics of him around the house.

In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cute'thulhu waits dreaming.

In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cute’thulhu waits dreaming.

Cute'thulhu creepin' in the corner, snacking on Christmas ornaments.

Cute’thulhu creepin’ in the corner, snacking on Christmas ornaments.

Cute'thulhu's helping!

Cute’thulhu’s helping!

Crocheting his teeny little face tentacles with a teeny little crochet hook (I use a size C – 2.75 mm) is kind of a pain, so it takes a bit for me to be motivated to make a bunch of these. But for now, there’s a cute little green dude available in my shop: Cute’thulhu – cute teeny C’thulhu amigurumi.

Shop Talk: Shop Til You Drop

26 Nov

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. I’ve been busy getting my Etsy shop up and running! This is something that I’ve been working on for a while, and I now (finally!) have some items posted: etsy.com/shop/absolutelyicebox

It’s pretty small at the moment, though I already have lots of plans for the upcoming year. One of the things I’m concentrating on right now is greeting cards. I love making greeting cards for my friends and family, and making cards available in my shop is a natural extension of that. So some of the designs may be familiar to a few of you, but here are a couple that are brand-new.

“Abominably Gifted Snowman” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Abominably Gifted Snowman” greeting card. Who doesn’t love an abominable snowman bearing gifts?

“Abominably Gifted Snowfolk” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Abominably Gifted Snowfolk” greeting card. Once I drew one, I had to draw three more. 😀 😀 😀

Okay, so this next one isn’t a new design (though I re-did the illustration), but there’s a story behind it.

“Nice Catch!” (c) by Chrissy Kurpeski

“Nice Catch!” greeting card: Every year, my large immediate family does a gift grab at Christmas, and one year I got my dad. He usually includes at least one fairly meta thing on his list each year (like “world peace”), and this particular year, he joked with one of my sisters that he wanted “a monkey and a boat” for Christmas. Haha, whaaaaaat. But I had a way to counteract his smart-ass-iness with smart-ass-iness of my own: I drew a monkey on a boat, and turned the drawing in to Christmas cards to send to all of my family and friends. And I wrote on the back of the cards, “My Dad asked for a monkey and a boat for Christmas, but all he got was this lousy drawing.” I thought I was being so clever with this whole monkey/boat business! But on Christmas morning, when I presented him with his own card and told him the story, he had no recollection of the conversation he had with my sister. Bawwwwww. But I ended up really liking this sassy monkey on a boat fishing for love! Fun fact: in the original drawing I did, the boat had the name “S.S. Nikto” on it. I don’t know why, I think I had slyly asked my dad what he would name a boat if he had one. (Army of Darkness is one of his fave movies.)

There are more cards available in the shop, as well as a few little crochet items. I’m hoping to have a few more crochet cuties up this week, and after that, who knows? I’ll keep ya updated!

Homestead ViVi: Viva ViVi!

15 Aug

Hey there! Long time, no see! Usually I come up with some excuse after a long hiatus. Summer’s been crazy per usual, and I have a bunch of stuff that I’m working on, should be working on, and tell myself that I’m working on when I really haven’t touched it in months (a “Two Hour Sweater” shouldn’t take four months to knit…). But I have a lovely reason for my current lack of productivity:

Three months ago, WE GOT A DOGGIE!!!! Timbo and I had been talking about getting a dog for yearrrrrrrrrs, and we finally decided to take the plunge.

Our little bundle of joy’s name is ViVi (“Vee-Vee”), and she’s the coolest, most adorable pup with the biggest, cutest underbite. She was found wandering the streets before Animal Control picked her up, and since nobody claimed her, she was moved to the Animal Rescue League in Dedham, MA. Where we promptly fell in love with her, and gave her a new name and a new start.

Vivian “ViVi” Garpeski

Because of her mysterious origins, we don’t really know anything about her. We think she’s a “Chug”: part Pug, part Chihuahua. She’s pretty small at only 10 lbs., and we think she’s around 1 years old because her coat’s still changing and she still has crazy puppy bursts (Though her dental suggests she’s about 2-3, and an eye test suggested she’s 4-5… But we think she just has terrible teeth and eyes, just like her new parents!).

ViVi and Mumma

It’s been quite an adventure these past few months. ViVi’s the first dog I’ve ever had, so I’ve been learning lots. And I’ve also had so much fun getting to know her, playing with her, training her (she’s super smart! Though I guess it helps that she’s also very food-motivated…), and exploring new places with her.

Hangin’ with Dad

She loves people, other dogs, and pretty much everything else! She sometimes (usually) puts off some dogs because she loves to play and is crazy about it. But she likes saying hi to all the people and dogs in the ‘hood, and I’m quickly becoming known as “ViVi’s Mom”. My neighborhood has lots of dogs, but my town doesn’t have a dog park. Booooo. So when she’s not visiting at friends’ houses or trying to chase down other dogs on the sidewalk, she’s content jumping off of all the furniture and running circles around the house.

We were out in the garden one morning, and we looked up to see ViVi prancing in the living room window sill. Doesn’t she look happy with herself?

I just finished a little painting of ViVi to hang up in our house. I was inspired by all the new things we learned about her, particularly the things she feels passionately about:

10″ x 10″ (12″ x 12″ trim size, for easy framing), made with my favorite watercolor pencils and Micron pens. Her eyes came out a lot less happy-looking than in the sketch, and I seemed to have dropped the ball on the placement of the word “pinecones” with the pinecone (also, I learned that I really hate drawing pinecones). Oh well, maybe I’ll do another painting soon. I have years to do cute little drawings of my most favorite dog in the world. Viva ViVi!

Now that ViVi’s settled in to her new abode, I hope to be posting more stuff soon!