Free Bear Embroidery Pattern!

Greetings everyone!

We are thrilled to be offering the third free embroidery pattern in our Woodland Series today. Please meet Bear:

Click to download.
Bear is a great addition to his friends Hare and Owl. This pattern uses 5 simple stitches (chain, straight, stem, satin, and french knots) to create a panel for wall hangings, pillow fronts, or even quilt blocks. This design is child-friendly yet sophisticated enough to make a fun addition to the "adult" rooms of the house.

Tree trunk is stem stitch, branches are straight stitch.
Detail of bear face.
The word Bear is chain stitch next to chain stitch.
Included in the free PDF download of Bear are directions and a color/stitch guide. With this instruction, you can exactly replicate our sample or feel free to go on your own and have fun creating something new! If you are new to this craft, the embroidery tab at the top of the page has some information to help you get started stitching.

As always, we would love to see what you do with our designs. Please send us an email or maybe put a link to your own blog post in our comments section and share your creativity. And, keep an eye out for our last design in the series coming soon!


Alex on the Road, Seattle Edition

Breakfast = Dungeness Crab Benedict

Instead of being outside enjoying the gorgeous morning,
I was inside being a huge nerd.
An exceedingly gorgeous day.

Channeling Charlie Brown

The finished product

I have a little boy who loves two things: Charlie Brown and stuff made by his mama.

Actually, he loves all the Peanuts characters. He adores the holiday specials, feature films, books, action figures...the whole enchilada. He is even going to be Charlie Brown for Halloween this year. It is no surprise that last week he requested that his birthday cake be Charlie Brown themed and made by me personally. Because "mama makes me things".

Finn's favorite shirt
What he doesn't know is that I have never decorated a cake before. Now, that's not to say I haven't slapped some frosting on a baked good in the past. (Carrot cakes are a common occurrence in my home so I know my way around cream cheese frosting and a small spatula.) The results are generally passable, but never something you would see out of Martha Stewart. This was a tall order that required a trip to the specialty cake decorating store.

Charlie Brown yellow

I began my design like I do any design - by sketching. I kept these questions in mind when brainstorming...
  1. What symbolizes Charlie Brownieness?
  2. What cake decorating techniques have I seen executed on TV?
  3. What cake decorating techniques that I have seen on TV do I feel comfortable executing?
In the end, I came up with a sensible design that required me to purchase fondant, gel food-coloring, and a pastry bag with a simple tip. I made a traditional yellow cake and because we love it, cream cheese frosting. I will admit I was nervous about this turning out. I really was winging this.

Here is a side view (top view is above):

Three things I learned during this process:
  1. Food coloring and cream cheese frosting are a bad idea (you get little white flecks no matter how much food coloring you add)
  2. Fondant tastes awful...but is pretty fun to sculpt.
  3. Piping frosting is something I would like to do again, and again.
Dude, I made caucasian fondant!
I had a pretty good time trying my hand at cake decorating. I can't see myself doing this activity all the time (don't like sticky hands), however, I will do it again. The success of this cake (in my family's estimation) has made everyone suddenly want a mama-made cake for their birthday. My husband was even excited, he said that it wasn't perfect...but it was heartwarming in a home-made way. This is exactly the reason that I make things for those I love.

And who knows? Maybe my next cake will be an improvement.


Don't Judge Me

This is EXACTLY how I eat
In a world obsessed with food and all the issues that go with it, I'm a fairly healthy eater. The quantity of food I take in is relatively small (portion control is key to weight management) and I try to balance the types of things I eat - although vegetables are often not well-represented and I have a couple of weaknesses that will never go away.

Indulging, on occasion, is necessary for my sanity. Sometimes, mac and cheese or a chocolate milkshake is the only thing that's going to hit the spot. I try to minimize how often I give in to those cravings and I always try to order a half portion or cook only as much as I need for one serving.

And, occasionally, I just go nuts. Today, for no reason other than morbid curiosity, I ate this for lunch:
The famed Midwest Meat and Potatoes Sandwich from Denny's
Yes, ladies and gentleman, that prime rib sandwich has fries on it. And two kinds of cheese. And mayo. And a cheese bun. And, inexplicably, they thought it needed mashed potatoes with gravy on the side.

This is the Midwestern entry on the seasonal Travel Across America menu at Denny's. Now, most people I've spoken to about this sandwich immediately ask, "why is the representative meal from the Midwest so bad for you?" and, you know, I've got no answer. There are all sorts of bad-for-you regional specialties in this great nation but, for some reason, people think of the Midwest and immediately think "fat". And, while I'm the first to admit that we're all a bit "healthier" up here and that cheese is sacrosanct, some of the most innovative and healthy food trends in the world are well-represented too.

It bums me that this is the way Denny's represents our fair section of the country. The Midwest's reputation already suffers from its "fly-over states" status and the misconception by the coasts that we're all just a bunch of "ya! hey der!" hicks. Needless to say, the Midwest Meat and Potatoes Sandwich isn't helping our cause.

So, to off-set Denny's misrepresentation of Midwest eating, here's a short list of healthy regional dishes:

- Tator Tot Casserole
- Deep fried cheese curds
- Bratwurst cooked in beer
- Deep fried cod, walleye, or perch


I am proud to say that Madison has a huge locavore movement and one of the best (and largest) farmers' markets in the country. There are so many restaurants that cook with local and seasonal ingredients that you could eat at a different one every night for a month and never eat an unhealthy meal.

(graphic borrowed from

At this point, I can only hope that my granola and yogurt breakfast and sushi dinner will offset the insane offense of my lunchtime indulgence. Truth be told, I may have to eat salad with no dressing for a week to make up for it.

Oh...and just in case you're wondering... It was AMAZING and I will not be checking their nutritional guide sheet to see how many calories/fat/carbs I consumed.Although I did, sensibly, leave the gravy off the sandwich and the mashed potatoes. That has to count for something, right?

- "Weak Willpower" Alex

Reflections on the Last Year

It was mind-blowing the other day when I figured out that Alex and I have been blogging here for an entire year. It seems like yesterday that over plates of Mexican food (or maybe it was sushi?) that we hatched a plan to create a place online where we could share our crafty pursuits and hopefully make a few friends of like mind. It has been an amazing experience for us and we hope that we have been able to be entertaining and enlightening for our readers.

Over the past year we have covered topics ranging from crafting to cooking to the weird things we geek on, like The Rapture and Pioneer Soap Making...just to name a few. Actually, we have recently archived some of our geeky favorites in the Misc. tab above. Feel free to peruse our weirdness!

Thanks for being a reader. We get just as excited today as we did after our very first post when we peek at our stats and see how many of you stopped by to see what we we're up to. It makes it all the more fun for us...and that's why we do this, for the fun.

We have some really great ideas that we would like to explore in this next year. Tutorials, patterns, reviews, giveaways, and, as usual, there will be lots and lots of distractions. Stay tuned...

We have a winner!

Speaking of giveaways, we have a winner of the corn yarn. Congratulations to emarci! We'll be in touch right away to get your mailing address. We can't wait to see what you end up creating!

Thanks again for being here with us...


Free Yarn (and a story of progress)

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Check it out! I made two, crocheted washcloths! The square one was simply an exercise in practicing double crochet. I needed to work on rhythm and tension so I did one row of double then one row of single until I got sick of working on it. Then I made a little chain loop because...well... I figured that my stitches were actually nice enough that I didn't have to throw this swatch away so it could actually BE something (like a washcloth).

Washcloth number two... my very first, successful crochet-in-the-round. It's pretty sweet. My stitches look good and there are only a couple of "holes" where I think I may have missed a pick-up. Plus, it lays flat!

Previously, I mentioned that one of the inspirations for me to learn crochet were some free Lion Brand patterns that I'd gotten in their weekly newsletter. Specifically, I really wanted to make this washcloth.
I don't know what it is about this stupid thing that's so appealing to me but, for whatever reason, it was the impetus for my new crafting adventure.

So, attempt number three (attempts 1 and 2 were chronicled in an earlier post) was supposed to be "Alex follows a pattern" and, according to Lion Brand, this is an easy pattern. "Easy" is relative when you don't know anything at all.

My first challenge was with the abbreviations in the pattern. "ch 1", "sl st", and "dc" meant, literally, nothing. So, I broke out my library books and looked up the various definitions and instructions for each abbreviation. Challenge number two was with the language of the pattern. Some of the instructions were easily identified as variations on the language of knitting patterns but some was absolute Greek. "(2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in each ch-1 sp around" might mean something to even the novice crocheter but, to someone who has never, ever read a pattern before, it's complete gibberish - even with the abbreviations defined.

It's in Greek - istg
I sallied forth and attempted to do the pattern with my library books as instruction but I ended up with a morass of crazy that didn't remotely look like the washcloth of my dreams.

Back up and punt. I put the pattern away and decided to try to, at least, make something round. In my mind, if I could get the "round" part mastered, the pattern would be easier. Neither of my library books had a simple round pattern in it so off to the Interwebs I went. Can I just say...thank Babyjesus for YouTube and this woman:

Bthintx1's YouTube channel may become my de facto online home. She keeps it simple and explains EVERYTHING. So, basically, I started the video, paused, did what she did, re-started the video, paused, did what she did... etc. and I ended up with that awesome round washcloth above! Amazing.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't address my inability to read the pattern. For that, I bothered my co-worker, the lovely and talented Lisa, to help me decipher it. She was, in fact, very helpful - for the first few rows. By the time I hit row 4, there was a new instruction I didn't understand. So, I'll be back at her desk this afternoon for more one-on-one guidance. Which brings me to this thought...

When I learned to knit, I took a few classes. I've decided, after this experience, that teaching oneself pattern-based crafting is really an exercise in futility and frustration. It's just better when someone (even an anonymous, online someone) can show you what you need to do.

On a final note, I'd like to talk about the yarn I'm using for these washcloths. Cassandra and I attended the Sheep In The City convention in Milwaukee last winter and found some really gorgeous yarns there. One of the more interesting yarns we saw is made from corn fiber. The company, Corny Goodness, makes yarns of pure corn fiber or a wool/corn blend in some of the most beautiful colors you've ever seen. In the booth, they had a number of items knit with this amazing, hypoallergenic, vegan, yarn - and one of the coolest was a dishcloth. There's something about the weight and texture of the yarn that makes it perfect for this use. Plus, the fiber has some weird qualities, like it's antibacterial and dries extra fast, that make it really appealing for any cloth that's going to be getting wet.

The yarn has a slight sheen that is really appealing and the colorways are incredible. My one complaint is that working with it is a bit of a chore. It's "sticky" - kind of like the way cotton feels sticky after working with wool, but 10 times mores so. And it tends to be a bit splitty, which is only really a problem because I'm still learning how to use the crochet hook properly. The skeins aren't cheap - $14 US per - but they're huge. The DK weight comes in around 100 grams or 240 yards of yarn. That's a LOT of washcloths.

So...I have two skeins of Corny Goodness DK weight in colorway Orville's Ocean Light (see above) and I'd like to give one away to you guys. If you'd like to be entered into a random drawing for this skein of yarn, simply comment below before 3pm CST Friday August 19. (Comments now closed please see here for winner.) All eligible names will be put into a hat and we'll do a random drawing to see who wins. If you enter, please remember that we need a way to contact you so, if you aren't registered with Blogspot you'll need to send us an email so we can let you know if you won.

I love giveaways!

- Alex

Drive By Posting

This is possibly one of the funniest blog posts that Cassandra and I have ever read. We had to share...

Enjoy "A Metaphor Gone Too Far" by KateOhKatie.

- Alex & Cassandra

Embroidery School: Lesson 3

So, you have your pattern, your fabric, hoop, and what? You might be wondering what sort of magic you are to use to transfer that picture from the paper you printed out to your fabric. Fear not, there are a few ways to do it... 

Transfer Paper
If any of you are old enough to remember typing in duplicate with a piece of carbon paper...well, this is sort of the same thing. Transfer paper for this purpose is a wax-free product so it erases like pencil and a hot iron won't set any marks accidentally left behind. I am sort of partial to the brand Saral. Their product is awesome. You simply take your fabric and lay it out right side up. Then you put your transfer paper on top of it, "inky" side down. Set your design on top of that and using something like a pen, bamboo skewer, etc., go over the outline of the design. Your design will magically appear on the fabric.

Saral Transfer (Tracing) Paper 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. sheets transfer paper sampler pack of 5

A word of warning though. I advise against lotioning your hands before working on your embroidery project. From my experience, the lotion will start to erase your design if your hand rubs across the fabric when stitching.

Light Source
This was a technique that I stayed away from until recently. I loved the transfer paper so much that I never really needed to try this method. It wasn't until some of my design had rubbed off (see above warning regarding lotion!) and I needed to re-transfer in just one spot that I discovered the easiest way to "spot transfer" was to use this method. Honestly, it kinda rocked. What you do is, tape your design on a light source (window works great) and then tape your fabric (right side facing you) on top of that. The light source behind your fabric should give you a clear view of the design below it. Use a fabric marker that is water soluble and then trace the pattern. This works great and there is less chance of your design rubbing off as you stitch.
Clover Water Soluble Fine Marker


With your design transferred on to your fabric, you're now ready for your hoop. Place the inner ring of your hoop behind your fabric where you would like to start stitching. Place the outside ring on the front of the fabric and put the two rings back together with the fabric caught in the middle. The fabric should be taught, but you don't need to be ridiculous. And as you work, the fabric will loosen in the hoop. Don't worry, just unscrew the hoop and redo the sandwich again.

A design transferred and begun.
See, it's not that hard. Go get yourself some tools and start stitching!! And, don't forget, our Free Downloads page has some fun embroidery designs. More are added all the time so keep checking back. There are many, many sources for stitch help out on the web. My favorite has to be youtube though. If you pop over there and search "embroidery stem stitch" (or something similar) you will get some great video how-to. Oh my gosh...your reasons for not trying this craft are just fading away here!

As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments on this content.


Hooking (and not the bad kind)'s what I'm discovering about crochet:

1. It's not knitting (ha!)
2. It's really, really fast (if you're doing it right)
3. It's addictive

Single Crochet for BeginnersI'm down to two books from the library - having returned the other five. I kept Pauline Turner's Beginner's Guide to Crochet and Single Crochet for Beginners. Of the books I checked out, these two were my favorites. I prefer the patterns in the Turner book but Single Crochet for Beginners is the one that's helped me figure out where I've gone (terribly) wrong.

You may remember from my previous crochet post that I was trying to use a bamboo hook. This was the one I already had in my knitting arsenal. As a knitter, one needs the occasional crochet hook to help you pick up dropped stitches or fix errant pulls. Since I knit with bamboo needles, it only made sense to buy a bamboo crochet hook.

Every book that I read showed metal hooks - aluminum or steel (the steel ones are really small) - and I knew there had to be a reason why. So, the other day, I stopped at my local Ben Franklin on the way home. I find Ben Franklin to be a great resource for those quickie things you need on the fly - like a random crochet hook. So, I grabbed on that seemed suitably sized, not too big or too small, and I went home to try again.

My first crochet hook!
WOW! What a difference!

The bit I was struggling with when using the bamboo was picking up the stitch to start doing a single crochet. With the metal hook, picking up is a dream - the hook just slides into the stitch like butter. I found myself flying through rows in no time.

Now the bits I'm struggling with are primarily knitting habits that need to be broken. I keep trying to hold my working yarn in my right hand (I'm a thrower, not a picker) and I really want my tension to be tighter. I'm not sure if we've ever addressed this before but my local knitting friends know me as the "angry knitter" because my stitches are so tight. Gauge is a bitch in my world.  So... I find myself having to move the working yarn into my left hand a lot (it's amazing how much faster it is to pick) and I'm working hard at finding a good tension balance.

The INCORRECT way to hold the yarn
Here are my two attempts thus far:

This is my first attempt. Note how tight the stitches are. They look pretty nice, even though there are tons of mistakes in there. Also, if you'll note the sides, I'm inadvertently reducing.

Not bad. Good, tight stitches!
My second attempt is a bit better. Now my tension is almost too loose - note the big gaps in my work (granted a couple of those are mistakes) - and my stitches are really uneven. However, my "chains" at the top of each row are much cleaner and easier to pick up. Obviously, I haven't corrected the reduction problem. LOL  Although my co-worker, the lovely and talented Lisa, helped me figure out that I was skipping the first stitch on each row and that's why I was losing stitches.

Seriously wonky... you can see where I corrected the reductions
 Attempt number three is going to be to follow a pattern. That should be a laugh-riot. I'll be sure to take pictures and/or video so you all can laugh along with me.

- Alex


Alex and I have mentioned on a few occasions that we are corporate drones. (Note: Drone is a bit of an exaggeration, but we like to wallow in self-pity sometimes.) The good company that employs us could be compared to something seen in the movie Office Space. So, if we came in tomorrow morning and saw a "Is this good for the company?" banner hanging, no one would be in shock.

With that said, we LOVE the people who work beside us every day. Energetic, creative types who like to interject a little mirth into this beige, cube-walled world. These are folks who eschew "forced-fun" and act on random ideas. A few years ago, one of these inspirations was a bake-off. It has become an annual event in the creative group. We have competed with peanut butter cookies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies...and today was banana bread!
How the heck do you keep the mixer from waking everyone up at 5:30 am?
Today I woke up a half-hour early to bake mine fresh. The house was quiet, the breeze coming through the open window was cool and smelled like dew, and I felt very at peace. I am not an early riser so this quiet morning house was sort of new to me. I was groggy...but I loved it. I may become a morning person just yet.

Sifted flour is so pretty.

I'm pretty fond of my banana bread recipe. I got it from Heather at the Craftlit podcast many years ago. She shared it with her listeners on one episode and told us not to broadcast it (because it was her grandmamas) and I have kept true to my vow. I will tell you that it is delicious. If you want the recipe you will have to go back to her archives and listen from the beginning. (But be warned, you will get hooked on this podcast!)

My entry is in the forefront...the crown on the table is for the victor!

Melissa won the Cookie Monster today! It will be proudly displayed at her desk
for the next year. Thick skins are a prerequisite for this game.
The judging was fair and the competition was stiff. I did not win today, but I made a good showing. The winner gets a tiara (see above) and the person with the least votes gets a plush Cookie Monster holding a sign that says "I Hate You" (see above again)...  Yeah...that's how we roll here. Even the "least favorite" gets a prize. Most of all, I love that we make our own fun here at Company X. Life is good.



January 2012 marks a milestone birthday for me. I won't say which one because, frankly, I'm not looking forward to it. Previous milestone birthdays have sailed by, barely registering as a blip in my consciousness but this one... *sigh*... this one has pummeled me with feelings of dread and constant reminders of my fleeting youth.

I've got no real reason why this one should be so bad but it's bumming me out. However, one sure way to make myself feel better is to do something really indulgent and, for me, that means taking a trip somewhere where I don't speak the language.

My all-time favorite place is Baden-Baden in southern Germany. I blogged about it when Hosni Mubarak was rumored to be going there in exile. The thing is, I've been there, like, five times now so, as much as I love it, I feel like I need to go somewhere else - somewhere I've never been. A friend invited me to go to Bali with her over Thanksgiving but that's too soon, too far, and too expensive a trip.

So, I'm thinking about the following places:

Greece - it's got the appeal of being warm, coastal, and friendly. I love Greek food and there are lots of ancient things to explore. Historically, it's been pretty expensive to go there but, maybe with the collapse of their economy, I can get a deal.
Thailand - There are only a couple of Asian countries that I'm interested in visiting and Thailand is at the top of the list. I used to train in Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) and have been fascinated by the culture there for years. The country offers a lot of variation too, from the forests and hills of the north (full of gorgeous temples), to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, to the pristine beaches of the peninsula. The best part is, the airfare is the biggest expense. Once you're there, you can have an amazing time for just a few dollars a day.

Iceland - Okay...maybe January in Iceland doesn't sound too appealing but I've heard that the country is really beautiful, even in the dead of winter. And, right around the time I'd be going is when the residents have this big, midwinter party called Thorrablot. The food acquired taste but the drink is good and the party is a blast with lots of singing and story-telling and friendship. Oh... and they have awesome hot springs.

Borrowed from the blog: Daniels Adventures In Adulthood
Nepal - I'd really like to go to Tibet but, with the Chinese occupation and the current political climate there, it's not really an option. However, there's a comparable Himalayan destination in Nepal. The mountains are amazing and there are temples to explore. I have a friend from Nepal and, after meeting her family and learning about her culture, I know it's a place I'd like to visit before I die. Travel to the Himalayan is long and a bit brutal - it's not unusual to find yourself sleeping on the floor in an Indian airport waiting for your next flight - but, I think its worth it.

So... what do you think? Do any of our readers have experience in traveling to any of these destinations? Or, do you have other places you'd like to recommend? I have a few months before I have to buy tickets so let me know!

- Alex, the world-traveler

Speaking of owls...

Oddly enough, I have another owl project to share with you today. I actually finished the Owls sweater (by Kate Davies) for my teenager about a month ago. The short review: I love it!

Cammy loves her owl sweater!

This pattern had been in my Ravelry queue for quite a while. I hemmed and hawed about making myself a pullover because it is just not practical for someone who works in an office. There are two temps at my place of work: freezing or boiling so cardigans are generally my sweater of choice. I was bummed because these owls are so damn cute! And then my teenage daughter saw the pattern, and fell (like a ton of bricks) in love.

I ordered the yarn spec'd in the pattern, Rowan Purelife Sheep Breeds Chunky, in Steel Grey Suffolk from Webs, one of my favorite online yarn resources.

I got the package of yarn in the mail and tore into it - ready to get started on this fun pattern. Immediately, I loved the color...then I noticed...the smell. Yeah, when they say natural, undyed yarn, they ain't playin'. This stuff smelled like a barn. I was sort of horrified that I spent so much money on yarn that stank up the house and, while I figured I could handle working with the stuff, I couldn't imagine my daughter being willing to smell like a farm animal. I'm pretty sure her boyfriend wouldn't appreciate it either.  So, I called the good folks at Webs at told them my dilemma. They hooked me up with a fiber expert who explained that this particular yarn could be a bit "sheepy"(yeah...they aren't kidding) and that I had two options: I could exchange the yarn for something else, or, I could keep it and wash my finished garment in Dawn dishwashing liquid. I decided to take my chances with option two and I'm glad that I did.

This yarn knits up like a dream. It feels great in your hands and, after blocking, relaxes into shape beautifully. Best of all, the Dawn dish washing liquid did the trick - it took away about 85% of the smell. For what it's worth, I prefer to use a more environmentally friendly soap for my dishes but, in this case, I needed the degreasing power of Dawn to break down the lanolin so I relented and bought a small bottle just for this purpose. If anyone has any suggestions of a more "natural" soap that would have the same effectiveness as Dawn for this use, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Regardless, once the smell was minimized, I can honestly say that I would use this yarn again in a heartbeat.

I love these clever owls!
The Owls pattern itself is so much fun. First of all, who doesn't love chunky yarn and size 10.5 needles? I made good progress every time I sat down to knit. This sweater was done a lot quicker than any other I have knitted. The pattern itself was clear and easy to read, there is no wonder it is so popular on Ravelry (4226 projects listed!) If I make this pattern again, I might go down a size. The sweater is supposed to be form-fitting and it ended up a little roomier than expected on my daughter. But, she loves it and I loved knitting it.

So, you might be asking yourself, what took me so long to write about this? Well, blame it on the weather (we blame a lot on the weather in Wisconsin!) It's not easy to get a teenage girl to model a chunky wool sweater outdoors when it's 95 degrees. But today it is only 85 which means...picture time!

I made my child model this sweater in 85 degree weather.
Overall, for me, this project was a love-fest between the yarn and pattern. I definitely recommend it to all my knitting friends out there. If you are looking for a warm, cute pullover...give this one a shot.

Have a great weekend!


Coming Soon to a Blogpost Near You...

Recently, we've enjoyed an influx of new readers thanks to being mentioned on two really fun sites - Craft Gossip and Friend-Stitch. We're thrilled to have you all with us and hope to continue to offer relevant and fun content that keeps you coming back.

We love hearing your comments and encouragement. As a matter of fact, based on some feedback we received from one reader, we added more instruction and a color/stitch chart to our embroidery patterns. The only way we can improve is when you all tell us what works!

So, today, we'd like to let you know about some of the things we plan to cover in upcoming posts. This is not a comprehensive list by any means and, of course, we're sure to get distracted and write about whatever floats our boat in that moment (as usual.) Without further ado, here's some of what you can expect from Mighty Distractible....

Upcoming Distractions
As you all know, we can't seem to stay focused on a single thing. We have noticed, however, that most of our crafts include some manner of needle work or fiber - including the new skills that we want to try.

Subversive Cross StitchCross-Stitch - Alex is fascinated with samplers, mostly when they're really edgy. The dichotomy of a sweet handicraft turned on its head is really appealing.

Quilting - Cassandra caught the bug when we made quilts for the earthquake victims in Japan. She's working on some ideas for kid-sized quilts for Thing 1 and Thing 2.

 Needlepoint - Years ago, Alex saw needlepoint squares used to upholster the seats of dining room chairs. Every since, she's been obsessed with the idea of covering her chairs similarly.  Specifically, she wants to use some ridiculously intricate William Morris-style patterns. This is why the project hasn't left the ground yet.

Only slightly complicated Wm Morris design
More crochet - Alex has already started down this path. Now it's Cassandra's turn. She's taken one of the library books home so expect to hear about her foray into hooking pretty soon.

Serging - Both Alex and Cassandra love the idea of using a serger and are dying to get their hands on one and see what can be done with it.

Upcoming Free Stuff
As promised, we will continue to offer free downloads and tutorials as often as possible. On our list of things to give you are a variety of patterns in different disciplines. We're in various stages of creation on these - writing them up, testing the patterns, etc. - but know that we'll have plenty for you to enjoy soon.

Love this wavy stitch
Knitting patterns - Alex is working on a set of three patterns - a scarf, a hat, and fingerless gloves (aka: wrist warmers). All of them use a unique stitch that she learned from a stranger at a protest knit-in at Madison's Capitol back in February. 

Sewing patterns - Cassandra recently spent some time learning to lay in zippers and, for practice, developed a pattern for a simple, but very pretty, zippered pouch. They make great notion bags and are so easy you can make a few in an afternoon. Additionally, Alex keeps threatening to make a pattern for a knock-off apron that she saw at a trendy store.

Embroidery and cross-stitch patterns - We like to thank everyone for the warm reception to the first two patterns in the Woodland Series. There will be two more to come - Bear and Fox. Also, Alex is excited to design some cross-stitch patterns so, yeah....we'll see how that goes.

Upcoming Giveaways
We've done one giveaway so far and would like to do more. Basically, we're interested in reviewing things - books, supplies, etc - and then giving the reviewed item away to you! We think the easiest way to do this is to have people comment within a certain time frame and then we'll do a random drawing from qualified names.

We'd love your feedback on this idea. What items would you like us to review? Does the "random drawing" process seem fair or can you suggest a better way to pick a winner? Any advice would be appreciated!

So...that's a little bit of what we have in store for you. We hope this sounds intriguing and that you'll stick with us on this journey. We're having a BLAST and hope you are too. Don't forget, we love hearing from you and can only improve from your input.

Happy crafting!

- Alex & Cassandra