Jess Hutch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


After college I had this great plan - I would buy a vintage Airstream trailer, gut it, fill it with displays of American natural history and pop culture, pull it around and charge folks 50 cents to take a look inside. A strange traveling museum, if you will. I haven't had a driveway since I moved out of my parents' home many years ago, so this hasn't been a possibility... but now I can live out my trailer fantasies with this:

Hot cha! I should add that it's quite small. In fact, it's dollhouse scale. And it comes unassembled. And I haven't received it yet, it's on backorder. But once I do, I'm going to put it together, paint it, put some furniture and other miniatures and a few of these guys in it, how cool will that be?

You can get one from Hobby Builders Supply, if you want.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


It's been a great weekend - the sun finally came out, I got to putter around the house and make stuff, and I got such a nice email from Joy, who made a bunny from the pattern I wrote. She calls it the Cute Bomb, which is clearly very appropriate.

I love coming up with these patterns. First I do some little doodles in my sketchbook, and when I draw something I like, I pull out the inexpensive acrylic yarn and my knitting notebook, and start playing around. I can spend hours knitting and re-knitting these fellows to get the shapes right and the placement of the increases and decreases just so. Somehow watching Law & Order is conducive to this process.

I like writing patterns so much that I've decided to put together a leetle book of patterns - I'm working on it right now, and it should be available in late October. I hope. Some olde favorites will be in there, like Monsieur le Robot, and the June Bug. Thank you to everyone who has asked for more patterns or suggested that I put together such a book.

If you enjoy knitting and have any suggestions or comments about knitting books & patterns - what you like or don't like, what you wish were available, etc. - shoot me an email. I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

mini golf


I went to the Malibu Castle fun center in Redwood City, CA yesterday. I have always loved miniature golf, mostly due to the courses themselves, not the game (I'm pretty terrible at it). I love the little buildings, the undulating artificial grass, the intense colors, it's the best.


Not to be pretentious or anything, but doesn't that spiral look like this?

I also look quite a few photos inside the arcade... I guess I like shiny colorful things.


It was so nice to be out in the sun, and to be warm. I live in the Sunset District of San Francisco, near the ocean, and it's been so gray and damp and chilly out here lately. I felt like I was thawing out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Two Toys by Mia Hansen

I got these guys in an ingenious swap/purchase with Mia Hansen. She's a Vancouver-based graphic designer/illustrator/toymaker (among other things) and when I saw these dolls I knew I had to have one (or two). They fall into that really wonderful 2D on 3D thing I'm loving (a posed image on a stuffed surface), and the characters are so carefully painted and full of personality. They really look like they walked off the page of a comic book or something. You can see more of them at her site, just click on "objects".

I also had to share my new arts & crafts bookshelf. I would hug it, but I think that would hurt me.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I finished this guy yesterday. I had been working on him for several weeks - I'd take a break from knitting to do a few more stitches here and there. Jeff asked me what his name is and I replied "Scootscoot," like it was the most natural thing in the world. Scootscoot?

full pup

The fabric on the back is from a vintage dress I bought without trying on. Whoops.

back pup

I drew this fellow using some photo reference - I have always loved how chihuahuas are so delicate, like little fawns or something. They seem to spend more time off the ground than on it. My favorite thing about these little guys, though, is how they manage to be so dignified - they seem so brave and concerned about stuff. It was important to me to give this little guy those characteristics.

face pup

I stuffed him pretty firmly - after receiving Rosa's and Hillary's dolls I realized that one of the reasons they achieve such beautiful definition in the curves of their toys is they seem to stuff them really well. Lovely!

Friday, August 19, 2005

craft books

Thrift stores are great... or, at least in California, they used to be great. I can't find beautiful 50s and 60s dresses like I used to, and even the knick knack sections, usually good for a weird 70s ashtray or two, seem to be picked clean. Is it ebay? What is it? But even with this drought of great finds, I often end up snagging an old craft book or two, which always makes me do the thrifter dance of joy and acquisition.

Vintage craft books please me on so many levels - the color combinations, the (sometimes) goofy poses of the models, even the design and layout of the books, and their many illustrations, make me happy. They are a window into the lifestyle and aspirations of a time and place.

I got this one recently, it's the Sunset Craft Manual, published in 1946. For those of you not familiar with Sunset Magazine, it promotes the artsy, laid-back lifestyle of the American West - idealized, of course. Big, open, modern ranch-style houses with lots of natural materials and big windows, big gardens and good food cooked on a grill, that sort of thing. I love the simple, elegant design of the cover, with the abstract leaf motif - it sums up the whole Sunset aesthetic, past & present.

1946 Sunset Craft Manual

Compare that to these images from the Creative Hands series from the 1970s - a really fantastic set of books (I have five, I have no idea how many volumes were released) featuring articles on sewing, knitting, quilting, embroidery, dressmaking, lacemaking, and crochet. I've seen books from the series for sale online. I doesn't get much more 70s than this.

Trivet from Creative Hands

Sun Applique by Creative Hands

Doll Sweaters by Creative Hands

Yowza. How about those creepy dolls?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This painted journal was a gift for my sister Kate - another (kind of) oldie but goodie, as I'm between projects right now. I did a few of these (you can see some of the others in my flickr photos) and I liked them a lot - and I ended up making some of the designs into knitted toys. Two fer one crafting!

beret journal

Lately I've been thinking about Cuteness. I like cute stuff; I make cute stuff. Cute doesn't have to be maudlin, or trivial, or contrived - to me, cuteness is vulnerability, sweetness, and simplicity. There's an openness to it, a need for protection, it is somewhat awkward and funny, it elicits an emotional response. It can be youthful but that's not necessary. It can be creepy, in fact some of the most effectively cute stuff is somewhat unsettling. That's what Cute is to me, and I love it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I love making toys and I love toys that other people make. Some of the most lovely dolls I've seen come from the mind and hands of Rosa Pomar, and I was so pleased to purchase one of them recently - and here she is.

Doll by Rosa Pomar

It is exquisite. It's art you can squeeze, and how cool is that?

Friday, August 12, 2005


Hillary tagged me for the Idiosyncrasies meme... hoo boy. I am nothing if not full of weird odd tendencies.

1) I find it difficult to throw away little bits of yarn - I keep thinking I'll use them for something. We're talking 2-inch long snippets here.
2) My favorite meal of all time is brown rice with a drained and rinsed can of kidney beans thrown in during the last 10 minutes of cooking, served with soy sauce on top. I really don't know where I came up with this. But it's SO good.
3) I hate hate hate hate having lotion on the palms of my hands. Or on my face. Hate hate hate.
4) I call cats "pooches". Pooch pooch pooch.
5) If a lot of people recommend something to me in a short amount of time, it makes me less likely to follow up on the recommendation. Not out of spite or anything, it's almost a mental block. That's why it took me several years to finally get around to reading a Harry Potter book.

Not sure who to tag, seems like most folks whose blogs I read have already been... Rain, if you're reading this, and you want to rock this meme, go for it. No pressure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005



I'm not feeling well. In honor of my illness, and the fact that I've only been working on the 2hbs lately, here are some handkerchiefs I made a few years ago. I am really excited about embroidery right now, so I was looking over some of my older embroidery designs and came across these. This bacon and egg hankie really cracked me up...


Saturday, August 06, 2005



When I work at work, I sit at a computer and do worky types of things. During the day, on weekdays, I do data work for HIV prevention studies. I like my job and the folks I work with.

When I work at home, this is where I sit. I can't tell you (maybe I don't need to!) how lovely it is to get home, do a little cleaning up or whatever, make dinner, then settle down on the couch and start pluggin'.

Note: the coffee cup, the awesome 70s knitting basket, the also very awesome turquoise and green pillow, the couch that is brown to some folks and plum to others, the yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted for current projects and Blue Sky Organic Cotton for future projects, the stack of reference books, the Juxtapoz magazine, the sort of controlled chaos of the whole scene (believe me, it often spins out of control and takes over most of the house).

Hooray for work, it all its manifestations.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Lilian by Hillary Lang
Look at what I got in the mail today! I traded one of my toys with Hillary of Wee Wonderfuls fame, and I really couldn't be more excited about it. Lilian (her name, thoughtfully written on a tag) is simply lovely.

I have always admired handmade vintage toys for their high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. Every stitch seems perfect and well-placed. Hillary's toys are just like that - they are so well-designed and well-made that they just seem destined to be heirlooms.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Still pluggin'... so I thought I'd share this fab book I purchased a couple of days ago. It's called All Wrapped Up!: Groovy Gift Wrap of the 1960s, it's by Kevin Akers, and you really have to check it out. Fans of the illustration, color combos, and design techniques of the sixties will really love it, as will folks (like me) who think that everyday things like gift wrap say more about a time and place than most history books. There are poodles a-plenty, as well as kittens in space helmets, super groovy psychedelic bridal shower patterns, and some amazing abstract patterns.

Have you ever walked into a bookstore, picked up a book, glanced inside, then walked immediately to the cashier to buy it? Yeah, that was me with this book.