Craft Conspiring

Monday, December 29, 2014

HipHipHooray It's Christmas Vacation

It is snowing and will be snowing for the foreseeable future (well, through Tuesday), which gives me a fantastic and semi-legitimate excuse to stay homebound with a pair of scissors, paints, and embroidery thread.   Although I need supplies and therefore venturing into the world is probably a good next step, it is going to be difficult.  Relatively speaking.

This last week of breaking for the holiday was relaxing.  We ate too much, opened too many gifts, drove to visit family around Denver, cleaned ice off the windshield wipers, drove some more, and generally indulged.  And, I am so grateful for all of it.  The husband created the below while working out the kinks of his new GoPro.

Over the past several years I developed quite the dislike for the month of January.  As much as I tend to soap-box about life-difficulty solutions, those tricks and tips seem to go to the wayside in the long month of new beginnings.  I'll focus on some dear friends' birthdays this year and school, but I've also lined up a few crafts in addition to the pillows to occupy ze time.  

A collage of these for a bathroom?

Bedroom art?  Inspiration, here.

Gots any craft distractions to share?!  Please do.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Envelope Pillows! New Listings!

I am pretty darn excited to offer another option for the pillow lovers out there: envelope pillow cases!  They're all the rage of the embroidered pillows with the option to stuff the suckers however you'd like!  Down-alternative, cotton, cotton balls, goose down, wishes, hopes, dreams -- the pillows are your oysters for proverbial (and literal) stuffing.

I used a simple envelope pillow case pattern that overlaps in the back for the insertion of the inserts of your choosing.  These new pillows fit 16x16 and 12x16 inserts, which make the pillows a little bit softer and squishier than the pre-stuffed versions.  I completely understand if you have not developed a preference between pillow inserts and pre-stuffed pillows, but I assure you, both are nice and offer differing appeals.  The cases, for example, can be changed based on the season, room, your mood, your in-laws' moods, etc.  They can be washed and ironed.  They're also $15 less expensive.  Win.  

These new listings also feature the blasted backdrop that fell off the roof of my car and left the husband saying things like, "Did you even have a vision for this?"  YES, I ALWAYS HAVE A VISION.  (Crickets.)  I was a sight wearing my down parka, gloves, a beanie, and a mask while spray-painting and sanding these huge pieces of wood in our garage.

I hope you enjoy!  Listings found HEREHERE, and HERE.

And lastly, I'll be working on a custom pillow for the next couple of weeks post-Christmas, but am excited for the reveal after the gift is given.  Please send feedback and custom orders my way in the meantime!  

With love, merriment and joy to you and yours,

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Tale of Crafting Woes

Because life isn't perfect and I'm here to prove it.  

Please, enjoy. 


Monday, December 15, 2014

All Things Pillows.

Oh, Hey.  Hi.

Firstly, I am over the moon about the two reviews the shop received! (!!!! - extra exclams!)  The below came in yesterday, hallelujah!

And secondly, a NEW LISTING and PREVIEWS!  That's a fall tablecloth in the below pictures, which indicates how long this pillow has been in progress.  But alas! 'tis finished.


Became this!  Now on Etsy, here!  

This makes me happy because 1) it looks as though these moose are in a snow globe, and 2) it's so very soft.  Soft moose in a snow globe may be an ingredient to life's happiness.

I stuck to chevron, zig-zag loop, and closed buttonhole stitches for this guy.

And lastly, PREVIEWS!  I'm experimenting with new photography software and backdrops, but I think I'll end up just making a new backdrop out of wood…using a hammer…look out.  Pardon the photo quality in the meantime.

(Dog paws not included.)

My wishes to you for peace and holiday joy.  THANK YOU for stopping in.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Learning to Say No.

She sighed, said, "Hand me a piece of paper, I need your pen."  She stared at the chart she'd drawn in silence.  The tension in her posture and her quickening breath all added an energy of anxiety to the desks where we sat.

She wrote numbers below the Monday through Friday list she'd made on the page, sighed again, and then put her hand to her chest as if to pull the words from her Professor-experienced heart, "You should say no."

Torn, wearing dress pants and a sweater woven of my pride and anxiety, I walked into the school, smiled at the secretary I've come to know and appreciate, and cancelled my interview. I would not teach music to 6th through 8th graders in a charter school during the Spring of 2015. It is not my time.

If you knew how long it has taken me to get to the point of being able to say a heartfelt no, you may roll your eyes, laugh, or pat my back patronizingly.  Being a people pleaser, when previous difficult decisions rocked my insides, I looked for the answer in the following places: at the bottom of pint glasses, under the cocoon of covers in my bed, in books and Google image quotes, through sarcasm, in excessive exercise, and often, by stomaching stress.   But, just maybe, I'm turning a new leaf, adding another chapter...dare I say, it's growth.

No really, after a much-needed, solving-our-worlds'-problems conversations with one of my very best friends, I realize I already have the answers, including the no's, and that the answers already exist in the world, it's just a matter of uncovering the layers of sludge that prevent me from hearing or seeing them from this very limited perspective of mine.  

In the slow and fast movement of time, varied experiences, beautiful mistakes, and some laughter directed solely at myself, I am here. 

Isn't that the truth for us all? 

On to pillows, classrooms of learning, tutoring, and the peace that comes from listening. 

I wish you the same. 

X, Jo

And also, this. 

Monday, December 8, 2014


Amidst writing my last final for the schooling and throwing the husband's 40th birthday party, I have sewn around 25 stitches, which is approximately an inch.  An inch closer to finishing another pillow does not a finished pillow make.

But! I have also been doing a great deal of late-night reading.  I am experiencing the type of anxiety where my foot is constantly bouncing, my hands are constantly moving, and my brain is two steps ahead of my actions.  Make that five to seven leaping, lunging, and jumping steps.  Reading helps.  I finished the entire textbook for this current course (not required), read two more Kurt Vonneguts (satire, be still my soul), and actually read three of the holiday catalogs that are jamming our mailbox of late.  Whoever writes all those words in those catalogs, I just want you to know I read them.  HEY, I READ THEM.

Oh, they don't read this blog?

When the husband deployed the first year our marriage back in 2009, I was fortunate enough to help (help is a very loose term here) an organization called Project Happiness with some categorizing and organizing of mailing lists and other administrative activities.  Although with the organization for a short time due to my work schedule, I thought it was spectacular.   You can learn more here, or here!  It's an additive philosophy of living, as opposed to the ever-prevelant negative, punitive, and guilt-ridden forces to which we often listen.  And it's beautiful.

Happy Monday, y'all.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


  1. I am procrastinating like my life depends on not doing what I'm supposed to be doing for school (i.e. writing two more papers due tomorrow).  If my life does depend on not beginning them, I will survive this plight.  With flying colors.
  2. Somewhere between the first seven years of the husband and my relationship and the last four months, I became domesticated.  Help?  I can't tell if this annoys me or makes me feel thrilled that I finally got the point.  I have a load of laundry in the washer, a casserole in the oven, groceries in the fridge, and I already vacuumed today.  (Help.)
  3. Health is something to give thanks for every day.  Not just because you're not sick, but breaths of gratitude should be given because you are mentally sound, physically able to exercise, and generally healthy.  The secret stresses of PTSD, chronic pain, and unexpected health scares provide quick, and often destabilizing perspective.  I'm trying to remember to celebrate those highs, pray through the lows.
  4. We have been waiting since we moved for bedroom furniture, which I got as a birthday gift back in June, and blessed-be, it comes today.  No more living out of Tupperware bins and nightstands made of cardboard boxes that make me spill the glass of water I bring to bed and never drink on a bi-nightly basis.  I don't learn.
  5. Are you still reading this?  
  6. Truckee update:  He's stopped drooling.  I don't know what was wrong with him for those 48 hours, but he seems back to his lackadaisical self.  
  7. Pillow update:  Another pillow is in the works.  I realize the more pillows I create, the higher the liklihood they will sell, and the greater the chance I'll have stock to do fun things like sell at craft fairs, and obviously, the more money I'll make; but I'm busy, man.  I'm getting back to last week's goal of a pillow per week.  I tried sewing on the airplane, but my stitches were caddywhompus and the lady next to me was fairly concerned about her lack of elbow room and the needle flying about.  I would've been too.  
  8. I may be going back to work-for-pay, which is different than school-work-and-volunteering-for-self-fulfillment.  I hope they coexist.
  9. Florida is a fairly glorious state.  We shopped and had girl-time, ate Cuban food, and played cars with the three year old until he needed orange juice and milk shake breaks.  While in Florida, I thought at least 20 times of how I really wanted to take pictures of the Spanish moss draped oak trees.  I didn't take a single one.
  10. And lastly, but most importantly, a reminder, which is mainly for me, to just breath.  I am highly-wired these past couple of weeks and feel like I am swirling down to the stress-filled despair portion of my mentality.  Life is good.  So good.  Shhh, tortured soul.
I will do my best not to post pointless lists in the future about anything and everything that will help me avoid doing school work.

(Until the next list I post.)

Thanks for being you, 

Monday, December 1, 2014


Hello, World.

I pose a question:  What happened to Thanksgiving?  I blinked and am now sitting amongst a pile of unhung Christmas decorations on my dining room table in Colorado.  Last thing I remember was trying to stretch my legs into unavailable airplane foot space while having a very vivid dream that my head was in a vice.  I think we were still on the ground in Florida at that point...

Although the Black Friday sale was a statistical success, I am new to this online world of marketing and realize now that Cyber Monday probably is even more applicable to this here business.  AND SO!

The Craft Conspiracy is thrilled to offer 10% off any of your purchases now through tomorrow, Tuesday, December 2nd!  Enter code CYBER10 at checkout for your savings!

Have a lovely start to the week!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GIVETHANKS! 10% Off Black Friday thru Sunday

Black Friday through Sunday I'm excited to offer 10% OFF when you use the promo code GIVETHANKS at checkout. Spread some love this holiday season and gift someone the unique gift of hand embroidered happiness. Perfect for the best friends, moms, relatives, and all the other loved ones in your life, including the kiddos. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

All my love, 

Monday, November 24, 2014

DECK THE HALLS - New Etsy Listing!

Bongiorno!  And Happiest of Pre-Holiday Celebrating.

Amidst a night spent in pet emergency with our little Trux (who is fine -- drooling excessively for no apparent reason, but fine), getting ready for the husband's birthday (today), and finishing up some last minute school work prior to our ventures East, this pillow appeared!   Having more time to add details and pour patient love into each new pillow over a whole week's time feels much less rushed and urgent than the first ten creations, which were done with care, mind you, but also an intense deadline.

I am excited about this one.

Check it out on Etsy.  DECK THEM HALLS.

And NEXT on the docket…look at those moose!

Happy Birthday to my one and only.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Faux-Update with Squirrels.

I busted my sewing machine needle, as I may have mentioned in a previous post, so this week's edition of the next embroidered pillow is on hold until the fabric store opens today.  I'm a little excited about the pillow though, for whatever that's worth.

Since the un-ironed, front panel of an unfinished pillow isn't really worthy of pictures, despite my attempts, I set my camera down on this brisk, beautiful morning, made a fire, and was staring at our backyard pine trees letting the caffeine reach my fingertips, when, out of the corner of my eye, two squirrels leapt onto the porch.   It's been softly snowing all morning, and apparently, this either makes the squirrels jubilously energized, or they're working out a sordid love affair.  I can't say if the two are related, but I think the excitement of snow can make anything get a little zest-filled.  Vimmed and vigored, if you will.

Cuteness overload.

Happy Sunday, y'all.  Real pillow updates coming soon.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Givings of Gratitude.

Harmony.  It isn't illusive, or intangible, or unpractical, or a deserved myth granted to all the other people in the world.  Today, in this moment, I am living proof that the head, the heart, and the hands can work together to uncover the stuff planted in the dirt, that's cultivated through a little hard work and a lot of faith.  The substance that gives us light.

That was not always my belief.  In hindsight and through reflection, I might still awaken in a self-entitled haze, unhappy with the life I was carving out for myself, feeling out of control, and generally disheartened.  I might still think, day in and day out, that what I really want to do with my life hovers in the dark, dream phase of existence.

"Leap, and the net will appear.” 
 Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

At the beginning of the week I wrote a 15 page lit review on the hazards of Zero Tolerance policies and the School to Prison Pipeline.  If you're interested try here, and here.  Despite the brain drain that followed, I was genuinely thrilled to research a topic for which I feel passionate, then word vomit onto paper.  After, I created a pillow, designed some things for the husband's birthday party, spent hours observing teachers in an elementary school, and tutored my little buddy in reading.

“Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can.” 
 Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

My sincere purpose for this post: I want to acknowledge how very grateful I am, and particularly, that I would not be in this mindset without some serious love, guidance, "You did what's?" and, "Good for you's!" from this wonder-filled support system comprised of relatives and people I get to call friends, but feel as though are family.  They push me, laugh at me, and try with me.  Without people from which I can learn, fail around, and crawl to for help, that much darker version of myself may still exist.

We walk together and through, and I Thank You.

And now!  A couple dear friends' pillows in their homes!  Giddiness.

Things to think on:
“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.” 
 Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
“Serious art is born from serious play.”  Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Happy Frizzle, 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Step by Step.

Don't you know I need you?  Anyone?

Day by day?  (Whitney. There it is.)

It's really difficult to concentrate with synthesizers.

Below is the process of pillow creating I follow.  I approach the task like I do most business in life: with abandon, gusto, inspiration, and...haphazard planning.  It works out decently for crafting and schoolwork, but I am one lousy cook without a recipe.

Step 1:  Abandon gets paired with inspiration, then coupled with gusto.  I first make a square on my sketch pad to mimic the pillow size, then come up with a sketch.  This next pattern focuses on embroidered Christmas lights strung between two reindeer antlers atop an appliqué forest background.  At this point I have a color scheme in mind.

Step 2:  I begin with the random, but purposeful, selection of material.  The back and front panel's material are chosen and cut first, then the pattern is snipped from various other patterned material.  I eyeball the size and dimensions for each shape, but generally reference the pattern to make sure I am staying on track.  Once the shapes for the pattern are cut out, I start pinning and trimming the material onto appliqué adhesive.  The pinned pieces are shown below.  Ironing fuses the material to the appliqué.

I then embark on the most satisfying part of the process, Step 3: peeling the paper backing from the adhesive.  It should be added to this list.  (You will not regret clicking that link as much as you may have the first two…)

Steps 4 thru 12 help the material picture come together, layer by layer.  I bet how I go about this process would drive the measurers-of-the-world crazy, but this works for me.  I don't measure, or try different patterns on top of one another, I just go for it.  If Mr. Lincoln cared about appliqué, I would probably have to offer an apology.  


And there it is!  This pattern is now ready for embroidery, which will be particularly enjoyable due to the extra details of twinkle lights not made of material.  I tend to pick the thread colors ahead of time, then settle in to the long process of embroidery with Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell records, episodes of The Wire, or Jo-dog eye contact. Truckee always makes it weird.

Thanks for visiting.  I'm excited for this one.  The sun is officially up, it's time to wrastle this day.

Peace, love, (and planning),

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gracias, Merci, תודה, Danke, Thank You

Refreshing the Etsy shop was one of the highlights of my day yesterday as hours and numbers climbed. Well, that and SELLING MY FIRST FOUR PILLOWS!  It means that much more that I know where they are going and who will snuggle them, almost down to the exact locations. Thank you, dear friends, for caring, supporting, liking, and following. You mean the world to me.
In excited haste, I also thought it would be a terrific idea to start the diversification my product line to 1) sell items less pricey, and 2) get more traffic to the shop.  On the first day of sales, a note to future Jo, do not start making different items than already offered.  Plan?  Sure.  Execute?  Probably not.  Around 1 p.m. I started asking questions, which eventually, after running on adrenaline for hours and busting my sewing machine needle in half, led to a crash.  I came-to lying face down on the rug near the back door holding Truckee's paw like a lifeline.  

What was I thinking of selling?  Pardon the yellow, tabletop pictures, but you can kind of get the idea.  I've stored this project in my back pocket since I made a version for my house back in 2011.  It is not your traditional advent calendar offering a piece of candy each day that passes, it's glittery and adult-ish.  (Eh, hem.  Right?)

Each day you remove an ornament from the countdown and add it to a simple wreath.  As someone who thoroughly enjoys the satisfaction of a crossed-off list, this makes my insides happy.

It could be sold as a DIY kit, or pattern, or just a free suggestion, which is all it is at this point.  (Don't mention it.)

I have ideas and planning in the works for the pillows and some other thoughts up my sleeve:  kits, patterns, and cases alike.  

So again, I wanted to share the roller coaster of emotion of the first day (ha!), but most importantly, Thank You for your love.  I'm feeling it ten-fold these days and I am so grateful.

Lots and lots of love, 

Saturday, November 15, 2014


After 109 odd hours cutting, appliqué-ing, embroidering, sewing, stuffing, photographing, and promoting, it's opening day! I couldn't be more excited. Thanks for all your support!

Now on Etsy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

…but, inspiration!

A 15 page lit review waits to be written.  Planning the husband's birthday party is imminent.  Etsy opens tomorrow.  But! glitter ornaments, a huge snowflake, more sewing, and DIY earrings!  Be still my crafting heart.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Pillctures?   Eh?

See below.

This collage depicts nine of the ten completed pillows because a ten picture collage was not an option. 

This morning, well it's 2:26pm, so today! was dedicated to photographing, listing, pricing, identifying shop policies, thinking about how I maybe got offered a job as a music teacher on the eve of the opening, planning, sorting, and just generally throwing pillows around my living room.  I also tried to come up with clever things to say about each pillow, the material used, the hypoallergenic fiberfil, and the 'about me' section for the shop, which I made awkward, naturally.

I've listed the pillows at what I consider considerable costs;  but for goodness sakes, I've spent 87.69 hours on the things, not including 10 hours promoting the opening here, other random blogs, and social media.  I have also done a (at times humorous) price comparison of other handmade, embroidered pillows on Etsy, as well as the non-handmade pillows at Pier 1 and Pottery Barn.  It's a competitive market!  If only I'd had this idea instead: OMG and YES, PLEASE.

I have learned a lot of what not to do during this marathon process.  Next, I will: 1) stitch the pillows closed with different thread; 2) consider learning how to sew zippers into pillow cases, and just sell the cases (for frames?!); 3) buy higher quality, but pricier polyfil; 3) work on taking better photographs; 4) sell patterns and the material scraps to DIY the pillows instead; 5) I'm slowly just deconstructing the process into, "Here's some leftover scraps I'm selling in a Ziplock!  Good luck!"

Under serious consideration: buying an embroidery machine.

Being immersed in this process is getting dangerous.  The repo guy came to our house to take the previous owner's car last night.  "Did you at least offer him a pillow?"  The husband said he didn't even think of it.

And finally, I will take a break from this process for a few hours.  I left these pillows in this position while I listed them on Etsy earlier, and was really tempted to leap into their midst.  Considering there are only 10 ranging from 11"x11" to 18.5"x17", I'm glad I didn't do it.  Yes, 18.5"x17".

Alright.  I'm off to put my house in order.  And eat crackers.