February 10, 2013

One Pillow to Rule Them All!

You don't know this yet, but I'm a huge nerd. Truly. Thankfully, my partner is a dyed-in-the-wool nerd as well; it's probably why we get along so well.

For our first Valentine's day together, I decided to do something crafty and nerdy for my beau. There are two things you need to know about him to make sense of this gift, though:
  1. He's a huge fan of Lord of the Rings (both the books and the movies). "Huge" may not adequately describe it. Example: we have the movie posters and a map of Middle Earth hanging in our bedroom.
  2. He cuddles a pillow at night while he sleeps, whether or not I'm there to be cuddled.
Put these two together and you get


Pardon the sloppily-made bed! (You thought I was lying about the map of Middle Earth, didn't you?)

I should probably explain. You know the ring in LOTR which must be destroyed? (It's kind of important to the plot.) That's "the One Ring." It's inscribed in Elvish with the following lines from a longer poem:
One Ring to rule them all, 
One Ring to find them.
One Ring to bring them all 
and in the darkness bind them.

Well, the One Pillow has the same phrase embroidered on it in Elvish, only it says "One Pillow" instead of "One Ring." (The word "pillow" is in the golden letters.)

"One Pillow to rule them all..."

"...and in the darkness bind them!"

I looked up an Elvish font and how to spell "pillow" with it. (Crafting bonus: getting to justify my liberal arts education in a craft - in this case, using what I learned in Linguistics class about phonetics.) I then took an image of the two lines about the One Ring and edited it to replace the elvish for "ring" with "pillow."
...Did I mention that I'm a nerd? 

I wanted to make the lettering as accurate as possible, so I printed the lines out, pinned the paper to the pillow case, and embroidered over the paper using a split back stitch. (I found this looked better, covered up my uneven stitches a little, and was helpful for going around curves.) After I finished, I carefully tore the paper out from around the letters, and voila! All it needed was a squishable pillow. And yes, I did "cuddle test" all the pillows in the store before picking this one. 

My partner and I have been together for three and a half years now and he still loves his pillow.  I wash the pillow case when I wash the sheets, and it gets no special treatment - it goes in the machine with all the rest! (Ain't nobody got time for special treatment.) It's held up so well that I've considered doing other embroidery projects on our bed linens... but then I look down the dark path where this is going and realize that if I don't stop now, I'll end up with the Eye of Sauron on a duvet cover. No one needs to sleep under that. 

February 8, 2013

Harry Potter Spell Sampler

The best thing about being a nerdy crafter is having friends who are nerdy and who enjoy receiving your craft projects. This cross-stitch is something I made for a friend whose love of Harry Potter is akin to my own.

This is a list of spells from Harry Potter, using a list I found online. (Lesson learned - the list wasn't complete and some spells were repetative. Amusingly, one of the missing spells is "deletrius," the deleting spell. Guess it works!) I decided to use only the spells referenced in the books, 'cause I'm a purist like that. ;)

I alternated between three of my friend's favorite colors; you could use any number of different colors, though I think two or more is best. The three Unforgivable Curses have been crossed out with a line of back-stitched black floss; it seemed fitting for the curses which will land you into Azkaban should you use them. The spell for creating the Dark Mark, mosmorde*, has little skulls in the "o"s. I free-styled the decor pieces and the "HP" at the bottom to fill in the extra space. The final piece fit into an 8"x12" frame perfectly!

If you want to replicate this yourself, it's important to use a font where all of the letters are the exact same size. I had to adjust a couple of letters from this style, yet again from my big book of cross-stitch alphabets to fit. Also, I would recommend that you make a pattern of this before starting it (read: not starting off freestyle and then making a pattern, which is what I did. Let's just say that the space left for the "HP" at the bottom was not what I originally had in mind.) If you want the piece to be even on all sides, you'll have to play with how many letters you can have on each row.

I think my favorite thing about this piece is the way in which the colors interact on the piece. I've considered making a version of this for myself in my own colors, but I'm afraid my preferred (read: drab) schemes wouldn't look nearly as magical as this one.

*There are two spellings of this spell, but this one fit my pattern better.

February 6, 2013

Glow-in-the-Dark "Thor" Sampler

There are few things I'm more proud of than this original design. I don't have many photos, as I made it a while ago and wasn't thinking about making a tutorial. Still, it is a fairly simple project has striking results.

The story: Justin was born in the wrong era - he should have been a Viking, which is evidenced by his quaffing of mead, his fighting training and equipment (he's the only person I know who regularly brings a chainmail tunic to parties), and his love of all things Norse, but Thor in particular.

Well, it was easy to decide what to make for him when Justin requested I make him something to hang on his wall. I was in an embroidery/cross-stitch phase at the time, and had recently been made aware of white, glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss.

Have you seen this stuff yet? It's part of DMC's "Light Effects" series and quite possibly one of my favorite things. Unlike the glow-in-the-dark paints of my childhood, this stuff does not have the greenish cast to it when in normal lighting. Which means that it fades beautifully on white fabric.

That means that this epic quote describing Thor (when lit):

becomes this when the lights are turned off: 


(Hint hint if you don't recognize the shape.)

It's pretty simple to do. Plan the design you want to have glow in the dark, as well as the design which will show in normal lighting. Stitch the glow-in-the-dark design first, using the glow-in-the-dark thread on white fabric. Once you have completed it, stitch over it with your normal-lighting design. It may be twice the work, but it's well worth the effect!

For those who are curious about the quote, it comes from an old book called "Norse Stories," which I got for $3 at a used bookstore ages ago. The font used in the text is from a big book of cross-stitch letters I've had for so long that it appears to be out of print. The hammer design and twisted border are of my own design, having taken inspiration from a few extensive Google Image searches.