Jess Hutch.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


doll face.jpg
Here's an embroidered doll I finally finished - I showed her on the hoop a few weeks ago. I love embroidery, but sewing is almost always stressful for me, so I often put off that part of the toy-making process. You should see the bottom of this toy, where I hand-sewed it closed... oh dear. One of my goals this year is to become more comfortable with my sewing machine and just sewing in general.

I think I've probably mentioned about 40 times on this blog how much I love 2D-on-3D toys. This gal was drawn in a pose and then embroidered flat, but the toy is stuffed pretty firmly, so when you tilt her one way or another part of her seems to recede. Why do I love this so much?

If you look closely you can see how I sort of messed up her nose area by over-embroidering - I think I ended up pulling it out about ten times. I just wasn't happy with it... so now it's a bit mangled. I think it's part of her charm.

has been doing truly lovely dolls of this type lately (embroidered in a pose and sewn to a backing fabric). Check them out here and here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

good stuff

All that bragging I did about my fab new Poketo bag reminded me that I have purchased some great artsy crafty stuff over the past few months that I've been meaning to share.

Starting from the top left - I got these gorgeous, perfect thank you cards from Amy at posy press (etsy shop here). I'm a sucker for things that have that Western, Victorian thing going on, and for things that are pink, so I had to have 'em. Remarkably, I've actually been sending these out to people rather than hoarding them like I typically do with good stationery (is that normal?). These are so cool I have to share them.

Next, the top right - an amazing silk-screened patch, purchased from a gal (I didn't catch her name, unfortunately) at the Anarchist Book Fair in Golden Gate Park last month, which Jeff and I happened upon. Her stuff was so great, she seemed to use mostly vintage, thrifted fabrics and strange and funny old images, like this one. It says "gather ye blossoms while ye may" and features a beautiful young lass dancing with a skeleton. I dig it the most.

Last, at the bottom - some really lovely postcards by Melissa Contreras, whose axelhoney wares you really must check out. She was at the Alternative Press Expo earlier this month, and I couldn't stop admiring her tiny sculpted figures, they are so sweet and unusual. Since I'm obsessed with photos of posed toys, though, I had to get this set of postcards... but I'll eventually get one of these, for sure. Oh man.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

maker faire

maker faireThe Maker Faire was a blast, literally - when I gave my Knit a Toy workshop I often had to talk over the sound of a machine (outside the hall) shooting out huge, booming fire balls. I didn't mind at all - I loved how the fair celebrated every kind of making - technology, engineering, art, music, craft. We tend to separate ourselves into our little camps, but when it comes down to it, everyone who enjoys creating shares a bond with all the other creative folks, don't we?

I loved doing the workshop, the participants were so nice and I didn't faint or anything. I even had time to show them how I wire up my toys to pose them for photos - the results of which you can see above. Kelly of buzzville came to my workshop, which thrilled me to no end. Thank you to Kelly and all of the sweet folks who were able to make it, I hope you had as much fun as I did.

The Bazaar Bizarre was there, too, with lots of crafters selling their wares - I was so happy to pick up a wonderful Poketo messenger bag that is large enough to hold about 5 magazines, a couple of books, my wallet, my camera, and my embroidery, but with a wide enough strap that I don't feel the weight of all of it. And it has a stunning silk-screened design by the artist PCP - all of Poketo's items are collaborations with artists, and they're all really lovely. Here's an image of the bag - it's not available on their website at the moment but I think it will be soon... I also ran into my pal Jenna, who is now the proud mother of two beautiful children and creates cool baby stuff for her company Tartlette.

All in all, a good day. And then I took a very, very long nap.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Thanks so much for the nice comments and all the wall hanging advice! There were so many good suggestions, I'm so glad I asked! I'm sure one of these ideas (or a combination of a few) will work. I'll show you the results when I've figured it out.

I got these exquisite birthday cards at a local Salvation Army, in the "Bric-a-Brac" section, I think (click on the image to see it larger). I have a profound love for this sort of late 60s/early 70s design, the stuff directed at girls that was typically pink, more pink, yellow, lime green and white. It often had a Victorian flair, mixed with a bit of psychedelia, and can be a little tacky. In a good way. The Brady girls' bedroom is a good example of this trend, and you also see it in greeting cards, posters, and stuffed animals from that time. I love this stuff!

I'm really inspired by these color combinations - especially now that the weather's a little nicer!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

knitted picture

Here's a little knitted picture I did this weekend - it's sort of a proof-of-concept for a project I'm working on (more on that in a later post). It was odd doing something in 2D, since I usually make 3D figures, but I like how it turned out.

Intarsia is much easier, I've found, if I just kind of ignore the increasingly tangled mess in the back. I just pretend like it's not there, until it gets too big to ignore, then I slowly extricate all the yarn bundles and keep going. This piece is about 6 inches wide by about 8 inches tall, and I only had to untangle the back once. I used to use plastic bobbins, but the weight of them kind of bugs me, so now I just wind little balls of yarn (before I start, typically - whoops) and use those.

I've also found that blocking does wonders for the weird puckering at the edges of color blocks. It doesn't seem to go away completely - some of that seems normal, some of it will probably go away with more practice - but it does even out somewhat.

I would like to be able to hang this on a wall - any ideas for how to do this? I don't want to put a frame around it, but I need a way to stabilize it (to keep it from sagging) and a way to flatten it out (since it's stockinette, it curls in a bit on the sides). I was thinking of sewing on a muslin backing, putting a long pocket along the top and bottom, and sticking dowels or wooden rods in the pockets. Perhaps this will work...

Another cool intarsia image - the Foggy Panda sweater vest in a recent Rowan Yarns publication - it was designed by Kid Acne, a British graffiti artist/mc/dj. The front (only) page of his website seems to be an homage to the cover of Hounds of Love - yeah! Kate Bush is deeply #1.

Friday, April 14, 2006

maker faire

I just learned that you can sign up early for the Maker Faire workshops - if you would like to come to my Knit a Toy workshop, go here to sign up. I'm not sure if you have to pay in advance too.

Here's a link to the post I wrote about the event - I'm really excited!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

mr. sun

knitted balls
Hey! When you ask for something nicely, sometimes you do get it. It's a beautiful sunny day in San Francisco. Thanks Mr. Sun.

Okay, so spring is here. Here are some knitted balls in spring-like colors I've worked on over the last few months, including some I did just this weekend. I put them in a lovely margarita glass we got from some friends. Nice!

Even though the sun came out today, I still got a huge kick out of a rain-themed song I heard on the NPR show "Day to Day" today - it's called "Didn't It Rain", recorded by Sister Rosetta Sharpe in the late 1940s, and MAN is it the best. From now on, "Didn't It Rain" is going to be my Official Rainy Day song - a song so upbeat about endless rain makes it all seem better. Give it a listen (the link above is to the segment on Day to Day).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I had been planning to post some cheery spring-themed images, 'tis the season after all, but it's been so gray and wet and blah here in SF for just about ever... and as much as I love spring in all its pink-flowered glory, I'm not feeling it just yet. So I'm doing the next best thing, or perhaps the best thing, really, which is posting a drawing my husband Jeff Heermann did last week - of he and I, in the rain. Isn't it nice? I like how it shows us sort of cowering - I think a lot of people in our neck of the woods are just kind of defeated by the incessant rain and gloom. Sorry to whine - things could be so much worse - but it does get to be a bit of a grind. Please Mr. Sun, come our way?

Jeff's artwork is strange, and wonderful, just like him. I love him lots. We have recently been chasing the rainy day blues away with beer, pizza, DVDs of 1970s British sitcoms, and our sweet and goofy cat Chuy. I guess things are okay after all.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

embroidery book

All that embroidery talk in my last post reminded me of a big inspiration - an embroidery book I picked up at Kinokuniya Bookstore about four years ago. That was around the time I realized that they carried incredible craft and art books, and I would spend hours looking through them, trying to decide which ones to get. This one was a no-brainer!

I think I'm most inspired by the looseness and vitality of the embroidery in this book. The designs themselves are really clever, and cheeky, and the sketch-like quality of the embroidery really enhances that. I tend (as I mentioned in my last post) to get hung up on creating perfect little stitches when I embroider - taking one look in this book helps me get back on track.

I think I could use a little less perfectionism in my life, in general. Life lessons through embroidery!

Anyway, there is no English title listed on the book, but its isbn is 4-277-32109-7 and it was published by Ondori. The illustration is by Nagasaki Kuniko and the embroidery by Hamaguchi Aiko and Otsuka Ayako. There are tons of designs - including robots, aliens, UFOs, birds, cityscapes, spiders, shoes, bats, and hot dogs. In other words, everything that matters.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

in progress

george in progress
I like to make things - and I have tended only to show them on this blog in their completed form. I realized recently, though, that showing things in progress might be fun - I get to show how my toys are made, and I get to post more often about them. Rad.

Here are some recent projects, taken in the midst of making them. You may recognize George - he's in pieces here, since I took this one night last week - and you can also get a glimpse of my special SpongeBob pencil, and my weird pattern-writing notation.

doll in progress
The second image is of an embroidered doll I'm working on. Embroidery is really my first crafting love - as Jenny Hart said, it's like drawing in slow-motion. I find it incredibly meditative and such a pleasant way to wile away the hours (especially if Law & Order: Criminal Intent is on too). However, I don't do it often enough to really perfect my skills, so I'm always frustrated for the first few hours of a new project - I really want that get that perfect rope-like stem stitch and it always eludes me. Ah, well, perfection is overrated. I'm going to go fire up the TiVo and embroider away.