Craft Conspiring

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.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart." -Johann Wolfgang

Today.  I need at least 500mg of reminders about breathing, not seeking the right answer, or shifting the blame.  A couple doses of gratitude in a to-go cup would do me just fine, as well.  I awoke in a morning funk and immediately thought about a cascading water ride, setting the pace in my classroom in accordance with learning abilities, time, momentum, and engagement, and also, there are nine, stuffed pillows to sew closed.  Caffeine.

Three inches of snow and the three degree temperature cocoon me as I write two papers for school.  This week (and really this past month) are filled with busy minutes, so much so that, as I was driving to pick up pillow stuffing Monday, the increasing number of red stoplights I encountered fueled some pent up rage.

And, well, although traffic signal timing is out of my control--like so many other things--attempting to look at the positive is often my second go to.  So please pardon my cliche-isms, but I need these today.

Some morning reminders on this beautifully cold November of 2014 day:  I am grateful for this moment, because really, it's all I have.

And my go to mentality shifter found here.

Happy, Happy Wednesday, World. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day, 2014.

From veterans I have learned what it means to have courage, to stand proudly with bravery, and how it feels to be humbled through sacrifice.  I am honored to know you and humbled to call you my friends and family.   

21 years: Paratrooper, Airborne Ranger, Aviator, Bomb Guy, & Satcom Extraordinaire. This Guy.

Happy Veterans Day.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Unstuffed (and Wrinkled) Updates

Hey, Updates.  

While sewing today, my feet started to get excited.  It was that feeling that makes you move them about, or walk around, or jump.  I pushed the school lovin' aside and embroidered for five hours, then used the 1978 Pfaff to very efficiently make progress.  Thanks a lot, electricity.  The date of 11/15 is flying towards me like a crazed bird.  

I'm learning the ins-and-outs of this process, the hours it takes, and the ever-important life-skill of knowing multiple artistic stitches for complete applicability during emergencies.

But, I'm full of contentment.  I realize that hand embroidery is not the most efficient or cost-effective means to create.  The husband asked me the other night if I even enjoyed it, and luckily, for what I am currently considering "work," I bloody love it.  As previous posts acknowledge, and whether it's a product of feeling self-entitled or not, my heart, hands, and head are, after the last seven years of corporate work, in harmony.  It's sigh-filled bliss.

Below are the unstuffed, very wrinkled, and featured in poor daylight versions of 6 of the 10 products for this initial launch.

I'm digging in my heels to slow down time.  11/15, here these come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

T-10 Days and Counting….and Holding

I just compared these embroidered pillows to the complexities of a space shuttle launch.

I'd show some pictures if I'd taken some.  I can update the progress in data though?  What?  You'd like that?


Baited breath.  I know.  I'm really building the anticipation with numbers.

I'm off to one meeting, two appointments, and to write my fourth paper of this week.  Hey, grad school, if I tell you I love you, will you believe me?  

I love you.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Serving November

I awoke at 1:30 a.m. this morning to the sound of fireworks.  The booms made my heart buzz and the lights flashed blues, reds, and yellows through the shuttered blinds.  The dog didn't stir.  I hazily moved back the covers, stood upon a pair of awakened legs, and peered through the blinds to ensure the lights were not attached to an emergency vehicle and the booms, gunfire.  The room lit up with each new crack of explosion.  I saw beautiful blasts trail colors of fiery light into the black sky.  I watched for a moment, my mind -- in true form -- considered what other people were thinking if they were awake.  Then I got back in bed.

I don't know if this was a dream; yet proving this was real, aside from walking the streets to find ash marks and firework remnants, interviewing neighbors, or researching police reports (if someone had reported the oddity), seems unnecessary.  The husband is away for the weekend, my dog is obviously unreliable, and then there's sleep induced night-haze to consider.  I think I'll just let it Be.

Let it be.

Yesterday I sat with my sister on a chair lift that slowly propelled us above treetops, above caged animals at the zoo, hovering above a mountainside.  There was the oompa music of a carousel, the hush of the wind tickling pine trees, screeching monkeys, the dangling of our kicking feet, and there was peace.  We were 10 feet removed from the realities below, 10 feet above the surety of the ground.  I kept my pockets unzipped in hopes that moment would sneak it's way into my being a little more easily.  I then opened my bag of happy places and rode the thing twice to make sure I at least stored the memory there.  

I am not so easily persuaded to restrain from caring about anything and everything of which I can think.  I have a tilt towards the highly-stressed, a lilt towards back-aches, and I often give a nod to anxiety.  It seems it's just how I was wired.  But the moments, being in each moment, that's what sets my mind free to newness, realistic empathy, courage, keeping perspective, growth through learning, and all those other important things that help us be our best selves.

I've clocked 46.86 hours towards the Etsy goal of 11/15, can stitch four or five embroidery variations without looking at my published-in-1979 Guide to Needlework (woh), and can't really remember what I did with my life prior to sewing during nearly every open moment.

Here's to fireworks and the blurred line between dreams and reality.

Gratuitous bear photo.

Cheers, November, I heart you --