Category Archives: Humor

Craft Fail Lands Sewist in Fashion Jail

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Failed Pajama Pants

Blogger Lisa Poblenz failed in her recent attempt to create pajama pants.  This failure landed her in fashion jail, a dark recess policed by her daughter.  “These pants are a hot mess,” reported fashion guru Tim Gunn (Just kidding–Tim Gunn doesn’t know Lisa Poblenz…but if he did, that is what he would say.).

Failed Pajama Pants

Thankfully for good fabric everywhere, Lisa used an old flannel sheet to test the selected pattern, so no precious or rare fabric was sacrificed in the making of this garment.  “The drafting is fine,” Lisa says.  “Unfortunately, it was made to be worn at your natural waist, which isn’t my preference.  When I put the waistband just below my belly button, the crotch is so low that it looks like I have short, short ape legs.”

Failed Pajama Pants

Failed Pajama Pants

For those who love to wear their pajama pants at their natural waist, this pattern could be a winner.  It’s also quite long, which is nice for the very tall among us, as it can be hemmed to the desired length.

For all those out there who love to wear their pants a bit lower, however, it may be a match made on The Planet of the Apes.  In fact, this garment has not even survived to the point of this writing.  It has already been cut up and put into service as scrap fabric so that Lisa could teach herself how to sew exposed zippers.  Maybe that will throw the fashion police off her trail long enough for her to right the ship and try again.

Failed Pajama Pants

 

 

Pysanky

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Ever heard of pysanky?  Yes?  No?  Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs.  (You can find more information here and here.)  They are made using a wax resist technique much like batik.  Every year around this time, St. John the Russian, a Russian Orthodox church in Ipswich, offers a few pysanky workshops.  I was able to make it to both of them this year, once with some friends, and once with my eldest daughter.  Check out what we made:

Pysanky

At the beginning of each workshop, Julianna and Xennia Scheider explain some of the history and technique behind making pysanky.  They both have decades of experience, and it’s really amazing to see the eggs they and Julianna’s sister, Seraphima, have created over the years.

To decorate the eggs, you begin with white eggs and a small tool called a kistka that is like a stick about the length a pencil with a very small funnel attached to the end.  You heat the funnel over a flame and then scrape beeswax into it, heat it again until the wax melts, and then use it to draw whatever you would like to remain white onto your egg.  Once you’ve done that, you put the egg into the lightest color of dye you plan to use.  After a few minutes, remove the egg, dry it, and cover whatever areas you want to remain the color you just used  Then submerge it into the next color, and so on, until you finish with the darkest color you want to use.  It involves a bit of planning backwards and a good combination of aiming for a certain design and letting go of creative control.  You never know quite how the colors will come out.

Pysanky

In the picture above, you can see the three eggs I made over two weeks on the left.  The fourth from the left was a Jackson Pollock inspired collaboration between my daughter and myself.  She made the two eggs on the right.  The first egg on the left I had planned to make purple, but in the end it became a deep blue.  The next one over was going to be green, turquoise, and royal blue, but it came out a little different.  If you can approach the process with a little planning and a little letting go, you can really enjoy making the eggs and seeing the surprise of how they turn out in the end.

There is a lot symbolism you can incorporate into your eggs, or you can just experiment.  This year I used some of the example pictures they gave us to cobble together designs I liked.  The collaboration egg was pure experiment.  My daughter’s red egg was her trial egg, and she made the Batman egg for my husband.  Her first version smashed on the floor, but she put aside her disappointment and started again, finishing with plenty of time.

Pysanka

Once you go through the process of drawing with the wax and dying the egg, you put your egg on a rack of some sort in a warm over to soften the wax.  When it has softened enough, you wipe the wax off, revealing your creation!  It’s so exciting to see everyone’s eggs coming out of the oven and being revealed.

Pysanka

Pysanka

Pysanka

Pysanka

Pysanka

You can see a faint “S + L” that my daughter drew on the egg we worked on together.

 

 

Pysanka

Pysanka

Pysanka

Pysanka

I have yet to buy a kit and try this at home, but it wouldn’t be hard to do.  You can find kits in many places, including amazon.  Julianna told me that the dyes will usually last about three years if you add a bit of vinegar to top them off each year.  You can also find all kinds of books with examples of amazing eggs at your library or online.  One of the oddest parts for me was that we didn’t blow these eggs out.  Xennia said that over the years, it just feels like the insides turn to dust.  If you aren’t comfortable with this, however, you can blow them out first.  If you choose not to, just make sure you store them where air can circulate around them or they may crack (and stink).  I learned that lesson the hard way last year after storing the ones I had made the year before in a Ziploc bag.  Eggs may make us think of spring, but that smell certainly won’t remind you of a flower-filled day.

Have you ever tried this?  If you never have, I hope you do, but watch out!  It’s pretty addictive.  😉

 

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (and Other Interesting Stuff)

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I’ve got a fun book to share today.  Hunt, Gather, Cook:  Finding the Forgotten Feast by Hank Shaw has made it to my house from the library twice, if not more.  The very best how-to books, in my opinion, give you the feeling, “It’s possible!”, whatever the “it” is that you are learning about.  This cookbook/foraging guide by Hank Shaw is exactly that kind of book.  I also love a good back story for recipes, and this book often gives you not a brief description, but a true (and interesting) back story.

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

As you might expect, he talks about foraging for certain plants, but he also gives you pointers on how to get started if you want to clam, fish, or hunt, and then what to do with all that you collect.  While Shaw grew up on the East Coast, he’s lived throughout the USA and now lives on the West Coast, so his experience with wild food covers a broad range of places and environments.  Check out his blog, Honest Food, and you can keep up with him and his adventures.

Here are some images from Hunt, Gather, Cook.

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

Thanks to Hank, I tried my first rose hips this year, since the very roses that he mentions in the image above grow all over our beach here.  The first try was bland, but the second was better.  Now I’ll have to try more!  If you have a food-lover in your life, you may want to encourage them to check out this book.  It’s a very interesting read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now for some more fun things to check out!

  • For more foraging information, try out my two current favorite pure foraging books.  (These are not cookbooks, but they do give you some guidance in that area.):  The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden both by Samuel Thayer.  This guy is smart, experienced, but also adequately cautious when it comes to wild food.
  • What if you love food, but hate the wild (or would rather grow your food instead of search for it)?  Try The Edible Flower Garden by Rosalind Creasy.  This is such a fun book for garden planning.  Most years I use it to try out one or two new edible flowers, just to keep things interesting.
  • You know how some people have “twins” that they aren’t really related to?  In college there was a girl that people always confused me with.  She was actually awesome at sports I did not or no longer played, so it was nice to get compliments meant for her, even though I had to disillusion people afterward and tell them I hadn’t played basketball since high school.  (Also, I was a bench warmer.  I made two points my freshman year of high school.  It was my 15 minutes of fame.)  While the two of us resembled one another, it was NOTHING like the resemblance between actor/comedian Will Ferrell and drummer Chad Smith.  I think these guys were separated at birth.  Want to see it?  Here is their “drumoff” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”.  If you choose to watch this clip, though, you should probably watch Will Ferrell’s famous cowbell sketch first, just to be fully prepared. 

    And now here is the drumoff (and the shocking “twinness” of these two men):

Have a good weekend!

A Mystery…

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While going through some old books, I came across this book that I’d read and saved from my childhood:

A Mystery! (Pattern and Branch)

Illustration by Jon Nielsen

I can’t remember the plot of the book, but what I really like is this cover picture.  My husband and I started to reimagine the story that went with it:

Donna Parker:  Who are you?  What are you doing here?

Intruder:  I, uh, um….

Donna Parker:  Wait a minute!  What…?  Are you…?  Are you doing the DISHES?!!!!

Intruder:  No!  I…Of course not!  I’m a man!  Men don’t do dishes!  I was, uh, fixing your blinds!

Donna Parker:  Where are all the dishes I left when I stepped out?

Intruder:  I don’t know!  Someone else must have broken in before me and done them!  You know, there have been a lot of these do-gooder break-ins lately.  I’ll just be going now.

Donna Parker:  You can’t fool me!  You have DISHPAN HANDS!  Have you been using my hand-softening dishsoap?!

Intruder:  I TOLD you!  I don’t wash dishes!  I just used it to wash my hands.  Is that a little old lady who needs help crossing the street?  Gotta go!  ‘Bye!

Donna Parker:  Where did those flowers on the window-sill come from…???

Full disclosure:  My husband washes dishes even more than I do, so I know men wash dishes.  We thought our version made a pretty great mystery for Donna Parker, though.  What do you think is going on in this picture?

Craft Fails

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Craft Fails

In the spirit of sharing, honesty, openness, and just laughing at our own mistakes, let me introduce Craft Fails.

Sometimes you have a great creative project going, and it just tanks.  You know, you just botch it.  The idea is great, but something in the execution goes awry.  I’ve had many projects like this.  So what do you do?  Sometimes you power through it, and ignore your mistakes.  Sometimes you just want to cuss (yes, “cuss”, not swear or curse).  But what about the real failures?  Well, I think we should share those projects because shouldn’t we all laugh at ourselves once in awhile?  I’m fairly open, so I don’t mind sharing my disasters with you.  I hope that some of you will send in your craft fails from time to time, too.  For more information on that, see the Craft Fails page.

Now!  Down to business!

I’d like to share a few Fails today to get us started.  For our first project, I give you Exhibit #1, the failed sweater project.  Behold:

Craft Fails

This is a picture of my wonderful and kind husband, wearing the sweater I lovingly knitted for him over a few years with yarn I bought from a farm in Vermont.

How lovely!

How touching!

It’s sized for a giant.

Yes, I did a gauge (a little test swatch to see if your knitting is the same size as that of the pattern’s author).  Yes, I followed the pattern.  I even tried felting/fulling it (shrinking it in the washer and dryer).   You can fit at least two people in there.

Now, sometimes these failures make me so mad I just want to cuss but this one was so bad, we just laughed (and almost cried, in my case).  It was terrible!  Sometimes my husband uses it instead of a coat for sledding, so I guess it’s still useful.

That leads us to Exhibit #2, ANOTHER sweater fail!  This was supposed to be an A-line chunky sweater, but it morphed into…a maternity sweater.  You can see me wearing it while pregnant here.

Craft Fails

I tried to save this one by felting/fulling it also but, sadly, it didn’t help.  It did keep me warm when I didn’t have a maternity coat, though.  It’s all about perspective, right? (Right?)  It’s ok if you laugh.  I do, too, when I look at that picture.

Needless to say, I’m off sweaters for the time being.  I got a blast of false confidence when my first sweater fit perfectly.  Unfortunately, every sweater since has been giant-sized.  I’m sticking to hats at mittens and little things for now.

Finally, what about the project you think is success, only to find out, much later, that all those looks you were getting, that you may possibly have thought were looks of admiration, may possibly have been…um…not that.  Maybe people were laughing on the inside but, you know, it was on the inside, so you couldn’t see it.  It was kind of them to keep it inside, wasn’t it?

I give you, The Christmas Dress Made Without a Pattern.  A wonder of invention, draping, and stuff…

Craft Fails

Flattering, no?  Yeah, I thought I was so cool.  Looking at the pictures a few years out, I realize this was a craft fail.  Ha ha ha ha ha!  Yes, I am laughing about myself as I write.

Now, before I sign off, I just want to encourage you.  If you, like me, have worn your craft fails in public, do not dismay.  Fashion is fun, it’s experimental, and that outfit is just one day in your clothing life.  A vintage jewelry vendor at Brimfield once gave me the best fashion advice I’ve received.  If you like something, just wear it. Someone will probably think it’s awesome.