Holiday Projects

Today's #ctmonthinthelife vignette - things I've designed that I use all the time! @zazzle bunny squares laptop case, 5 A Day tote bag, vintage buttons Keds, prototype coin purse, @denydesigns sun coaster, Zazzle planet wallet, @society6 cupcake iPhone ca

I always take a few weeks off in August because it’s generally quiet, hopefully sunny and a good opportunity to work on some projects before all the Christmas madness kicks off. So what have I been doing?

#CTMonthInTheLife

I’m still posting a photo a day as part of this challenge. It’s been really interesting for me, to think about all these random aspects of my business – above are things I’ve designed that I use every day, for Vignette. I thought I might have to skip some when I was Up North, but the prompts aligned perfectly so I got to do rest, view, photography and customer! There’s still a few days left, if you want to follow me on Instagram and see.

askingfortrouble

Updating the website!

Did you notice? Probably not, because the new shop looks almost exactly like the old shop! It does work better on mobile devices and it has some fun new features, like the reviews and ratings. I’m still fiddling with things so let me know if you spot anything wonky.

Test copy just arrived and fits today's #ctmonthinthelife. My favourite thing to design every year is a new 5 Year Diary. The next one is space-themed and will be available in September!

5 Year Diaries

Next year’s 5 Year Diaries are all finished and will be available for pre-order next month. I’m just waiting for the spiral bound test copies to arrive and then I can take lots of photos!

Today's #ctmonthinthelife topic is photography. We've been taking pics of a Japanese Happy Kitchen mini cake kit for a Super Cute Kawaii review. Action shot by @billy49er!

Making a tiny cake

I brought this tiny Japanese cake kit with me so I could use my parents’ microwave. It was really fun to do and actually tasted okay too. You can read my review at Super Cute Kawaii! I’ve also been redesigning the SCK site so look out for that on Monday.

tarantula

Hunting Tarantulas

This is pretty much my achievement of the year. I didn’t manage to catch a tarantula in Animal Crossing last summer, partly because I didn’t play much post-hospital, but mainly because they only come out late at night and are terrifying and if they see you they run over and bite you until you faint! I was determined to catch one this year though, as it’s the last bug I needed. I even set my game forward 4 hours so I wouldn’t be tired playing at 2am and I finally got one! Now I just need a spiny lobster and a few paintings and my museum will be complete. Despite all this, I still like spiders in real life. PS. If you read my Bunny Day in the Life, you’ll be glad to hear I now have THREE BUNNIES living in my town. And yes, we are still posting away at Quincy & Usagi.

Weekend Wrap Up

Angel Bunny at Spey Bay today.

I’ve been Up North for a few days with Angel Bunny. The weather was pretty bad so we didn’t get up to anything much, but it was lovely to have a break. Today I’m off to Edinburgh, as I have a ticket for Haruki Murakami at the Book Festival. I haven’t been over for ages, since it now takes twice as long as costs twice as much, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new at Hannah Zakari, and having a wander.

Links I Loved

- 1994 Week at the AV Club is proving to be a fun read.
- Great idea for decorating a bookshelf with Spoonflower wallpaper. I have one very similar and may try this.

august holiday

News, Offers and Reminders

- 10% off all orders in my shop with the code AUGUSTHOLIDAY. I’ll be shipping orders again on Thursday.
- Don’t forget to enter my fabric giveaway.
- Win a creative habits book + 3 yards of custom fabric at Spoonflower.
- Zazzle have a new coupons page, so check that before buying from my store!

- I reviewed a Japanese DIY cake kit over at Super Cute Kawaii!

More Japan Zines

IMG_4575

Given the chance, I would buy every Japan-related zine I find, but here are some of my recent purchases.

TOKYO: A very brief introduction
If you don’t own any Herb Lester guides then you are really missing out! They’re little foldout maps with themed suggestions of interesting places to visit. There are loads of them and this Tokyo edition is a collaboration with The City Reporter. Tokyo is obviously massive so this guide has four walking tours, of Omotesando, Ginza, Sendagi and Shibuya, packed with cafes, shops and galleries to visit. There are also some travel tips, all illustrated with pen and watercolour. Definitely worth picking up if you have a trip planned, but so nice you should just get it anyway.
BUY IT: £4 from Herb Lester Associates.

Big in Japan
Often comic book travel zines end up being a bit short on content, but Moogs has packed tons and tons of details about her two weeks in Tokyo into 40 pages. She visits lots of places and tries out everything from onsen to okonomiyaki so it’s a great overview of fun things to do in Japan. I love her drawing style too – a mix of detailed pencil drawings and short comic strips. If you’ve ever visited Japan I’m sure you’ll enjoy this as much as I did – it’s full of all the little things that make Japan amazing. Extra point for being from Glasgow too!
BUY IT: £3.50 from Etsy (if out of stock, just message Moogs)

Nic & Craig go to Japan
Another comic book, this time by Nic Lawson in Australia (who put some amazing Australian railway station stamps on my parcel). This is a shorter read with a selection of one page comics about the most fun/interesting things that happened. I still really enjoyed it, especially the Kyoto and Nara pages and all the fun cafes they visited.
BUY IT: $4 (about £2) from Etsy

Thrifty Times #20 – The Tokyo Issue
I wasn’t familiar with the Thrifty Times, but it’s a long-running zine all about thrifting with shop reviews, favourite finds, tips etc. This issue is all about thrifting in Tokyo, with a review of the Chicago Thrift Store in Harajuku, tips on buying secondhand yukata, book, music and game reviews, recipes and more! It’s a great mix of content and I wish I’d bought one of the  bundles now! I’ve never done any secondhand shopping in Japan, but I’m definitely going to give it a go next time.
BUY IT: $1.50 (about 90p) from Thrifty Times.

If that’s not enough, check out my Japan Zines Etsy treasury for more zines, or buy some of mine!

Free Eco Canvas Swatch Day

eco canvas

Spoonflower are being very generous this year! We’ve already had free swatches of faux suede and silky faille, and now you can get your hands on some eco canvas. As the name suggests, its 45% recycled and heavyweight for upholstery, bags and other hardwearing projects.

I was on a train yesterday and my phone was constantly pinging with fabric sale notifications so thanks everyone who already picked my designs for their free swatch! You’ve still got five hours left so get to it! You could try out one of my new designs, or pick a cut and sew pattern. Make sure to show me if you make something with my designs!

spoonflower cut and sew

PS. Don’t forget to enter my fabric giveaway.

August Holiday Discount

august holiday

Just a reminder that I’m still having a break and won’t be shipping any orders until next Thursday. If you have your eye on something, and don’t mind waiting, you can get 10% off any order with the code AUGUSTHOLIDAY. Includes sale items and digital files so go nuts!

Sewing Notions Fabric Giveaway

fabric giveaway

Since you were all so nice about my Sewing Notions Co-ordinates fabrics, I ordered some to give away! The top prize is all four designs printed full size on one yard of the basic quilting cotton. It’s pretty big, look!

IMG_4513

The patterns are quite large because that’s the only way to get votes in a contest – anything smaller and people won’t notice it! Usually, I would reduce the print size after but because these were designed to fit on a yard I can’t do that easily. There are lots of details though, especially on the buttons and trim designs, so you can still use some for smaller projects.

I’ll also pick a runner-up, who will get some swatches in different colours.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below and you’ll find lots of entry options. Giveaway is open worldwide and closes on 31st August at 6pm BST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finished Tapestry Cushion

bargello cushion

Look, I have a cushion! Turning my finished tapestry into a cushion turned out to be quite a process so I am really glad to have it finished.

Since this was my first time doing anything to a stitched piece other than framing, I took a lot of steps. I first pinned the tapestry and cushion back together with a ton of pins and then I basted it too with bright purple thread so I’d be able to stitch right between the outer two lines of stitching. I then attempted to machine stitch it as suggested by the instructions and that went surprisingly well for an entire side, As soon as I turned the corner though, my needle snapped, as did the replacement needle. I even moved over to another side of the cushion thinking it might be that specific spot, but nope, the third needle snapped too!

bargello cushion

I ended up hand-sewing the other three sides, which was pretty dull. I used backstitch with a double thickness of thread for strength, so it felt like forever, but it was only a few hours really. The cushion didn’t quite fill out the cushion case either, but it’s fine and I’m really happy overall. I’m not sure I want to make another one any time soon though.

Vervaco Bargello long stitch cushion kit | 16″ cushion back | 16″ cushion insert

Blog Hop

Today's #ctmonthinthelife photo. My branding is based around my kawaii characters, particularly Cakeify, who gets to be part of the logo.

I was tagged by Jules at The Awkward Niche to take part in a blog hop about how we create. I’ve got a few questions to answer and then I’ll tag some creative folks I’d like to answer them too.

1. What am I working on?

Far too many things! I really need to make a list of everything I am doing, and am supposed to be doing, so I can prioritise. But here’s what I’m actually working on (plus client stuff):

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.33.26

Asking For Trouble shop redesign
I did promise this in a week or two, about six weeks ago, but I still have stuff to do. I wasted a lot of time fixing page content rather than slightly more important things like putting the cart and search back in…

Today's #ctmonthinthelife photo. I'm currently working on some new SCK friends for Bunny. How about a koala?

Super Cute Kawaii site redesign
I’m relaunching Super Cute Kawaii in September so I’ve been coming up with some new animal characters and updates to the site design. I need to stop working on this though, until I finish more urgent things.

Finished bargello long stitch

Bargello Longstitch Cushion
I finished the stitching, but I’m still working on sewing the cushion cover together. (Update – I have actually just finished this – pics soon!)

Just ordered a test of next year's 5 Year Diary! No prizes for guessing the theme.

Next Year’s 5 Year Diary
Thanks to all your nagging, it’s going to be a space design! I have actually finished the main diary and sent off for a test copy, but I still need to do the spiral bound version. You can sign up to hear when they’re ready.

This choice of colours may not be making my next tapestry project look very exciting , but it will be!

Another Tapestry
I shouldn’t really be working on this, when I still have things on my Crafts Amnesty list, but I needed something to stitch while watching the Commonwealth Games. I’m not saying any more, but it’s Zelda related.

Designs for a new on-demand partner
You’re going to like this one when I get to tell you about it.

An exciting new product!
Is it stickers? It might be stickers. (it’s stickers!)

seasonal

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think about this a lot. I think what sets me apart is that I only draw and write about things that mean something to me and fit with my style. That means Japan and food and astronomy and ghosts and snowmen. Maybe I could make more money drawing cats and dogs or designing products for kids, but that’s not me. Another way is that most of my characters originate as actual drawings, which gives them a certain quirk that you can’t get from purely digital work. My use of colour is another one – it’s often commented on. I also think my work as a web and graphic designer affects my artistic background in an interesting way, and vice versa.

say hello to the solar system

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Honest answer: because I need the money! My RSI means I can’t work in an office full time so I have to make this work in order to pay my bills. Luckily, I’m also doing something I love, and that I would be trying to fit in if I had a more normal job too. I think because I create happy characters, it feels like they have a life of their own and seeing them cut out of wood or decorating dog beds or gallivanting around the globe on a stranger’s lapel makes me happy every day. As for writing and blogging, I do those partly because I like to share all the cool stuff I discover, but mostly as a record for myself. It’s so amazing being able to look back on about 15 years worth of blog posts and photos and remember what I was doing. You think you’ll always remember certain moments and events but it’s all too easy to forget.

on-demand

Some of my favourite licensed products

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I do a lot of it in my head first. I have hundreds of ideas floating around at any time, mostly from things I read in books and blogs, see in shops and in real life, or that just come out of nowhere. I take notes sometimes and bookmark/pin useful links and inspirations, but I mostly keep them in the back of my mind until it’s the right time for them. That can be discovering a new supplier, a style of craft or technique, an email from the perfect collaborator, or just having some spare time or cash. If it’s a design or character, I’ll doodle in my sketchbook or draw directly in Illustrator. If it’s something brand new to me, I might do some googling or read up on the options. Depending on how it goes, I can finish the whole process in a day or still be working on it a year later. Similarly with writing, I have tons of drafts of blog posts and zine ideas and I revisit those occasionally until I get inspired to finish them off.

sketchbook

Some of my sketchbook doodles that turned into characters – who do you recognise?

Who I’m Tagging

Claire, who just retired from her stitchy life as The Bellwether, and soon as my SCK panda chum, but still has her own blog. I’m tagging her because she never really writes about why or how she creates and I would be really interested to hear!

Laura, who blogs at Dropstitch and sometimes sells things on Etsy. She is always introducing me to interesting things, whether it’s places she’s visited, Etsy shops or the stories behind her gocco prints. I’ve been hearing the odd hint that she’s working on new things and I’d like to hear more about it!

Go check out their blogs and look out for their answers in the next week or so.

Weekend Wrap Up

I've been pickling all the vegetables today. They already taste amazing.

It’s almost time for my annual Summer holiday so this Monday is my last shipping day until the 25th. I’ll be away Up North for a few days but mostly I will be taking some time to catch up on projects and start adjusting my thoughts towards Autumn and (gulp) Christmas. I won’t be completely deserting though as I’ll have a few blog posts up, including a giveaway! I will also be doing more pickling after making the above last week and discovering it is both super easy and incredibly delicious. I ate all those pickled cucumbers in two days. I used Smitten Kitchen’s Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw recipe as a starting point, but there’s also Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles if you just want to pickle some cucumber. Do it!

Links I Loved

- Lucy Knisley’s sketchbook diary of San Diego Comic Con is amazing.
- More comics from Kate Beaton’s trip home. I love these so much.
- I am a well-known Kickstarter hater, but this comic book by a Japan-based Texan girl looks fun.
- I did not want to know that Brownie ice cream sandwiches were an option in life.

News, Offers and Reminders

- Free shipping worldwide at my Society6 shop through Monday with that link only.
- Zazzle have a new coupons page, so check that before buying from my store!
- My new fabric designs are now available at Spoonflower.
- We’re looking for some new writers at Super Cute Kawaii!