A Farewell to 2012s

Bonjourno Internet Citizens!

Well the year is quite nearly over. Can you believe we made it through Ragnorak? I didn’t think we could, but as it turns out the magic was inside us the whole time. We didn’t even need the “hubcap of ultimate power,” it was in fact useless.

InfinityThis holiday season was a blur! My tip to you, fair readers, is do not visit another mystical land for 2 weeks in December. It makes the holiday rush so terribly stressful. I did manage to make one infinity scarf for my darling lady friend. I am confident it will keep her neck warm, or at a minimum provide a conversation piece as she attempts to exit it’s many looping folds.

Mr. McCluckin’ and I have been known to host the Feast of the 7 Fishes! This year we had a very serious discussion about the feast and decided to keep it small. Instead of inviting everyone under the sun, we tried to keep the gathering to friends, family and beloved neighborhood scamps. In the end we welcomed 20 people to our home instead of the usual 40 and we served them fishes like never before. There was a trout pate and green curry salmon (these were brought by guests). We made cioppino (fish gut soup), baccala balls (rehydrated fish rolled into balls), sausage and peppers (from pigs) and marinara and noodles. In case you were wondering, I don’t much care for fish. I do on the other hand care for feasts and traditions. So we made our house smell of cat food, no worries, everyone had a ball (made of fish)!

Maybe it was the savagery that came with Ragnorak on the 21st, but this holiday season was insane-pants. Every time I turned around I discovered 7 unfinished tasks. Even as we enter 2013 I realize there’s so much I had hoped to do. On the plus side, there are very few Mayan apocalypses in 2013, so I think it might be a productive year.

Let’s talk about resolutions! I like to make grand resolutions that rarely have any grounding in reality (just like everyone else).

I plan to:

Figure out how to use the Flickr app on my phone.

Ignite my Apple abilities by using the crap out of my iPad.

Overthrow the leaders of Banana Republic and plunder their natural khaki resources.

Read more (expect exciting things on this subject soon!)

Teach the wee dogs to moonwalk.

Visit not-too-distant lands, like Glenwood Springs, Columbus and Boston.

Invent a new language.

Whelp, those seem to all be in order. I expect you internetters to hold me to them! Let’s ring in the new year right with our ____________ (crafty tool) at hand and our _______________ (favorite animal) upon our laps!

Wishing you, yours and the other people you know but don’t count among your inner circle, a very merry new year!

Cheerios,

Henny Penny

Irish You a Merry Winterfest!*

Hallooooo Hungry Hippos and Sneaky Petes,

Where on Earth have you been? Well I can tell you where I’ve been, Ireland. It’s true. I’ve been traipsing about the Emerald Isle without you. Don’t fret, the customs officers revoked my rights to the internet upon entry into the country, so it wasn’t your fault I wasn’t able to speak with you every minute of my trip.

So what’s a holiday in Ireland like? Oh-so-wonderful! It was like walking on cotton candy while having sexy fireman feed you ice cream from a trumpet. Or to be more exact, it’s like wandering through a kaleidoscope of green and blue. Everyone we met was friendly and delightful. Oh yes, did I neglect to mention, Mr. McCluckin’ accompanied me, because as we all know a well-refined hen doesn’t leave the country without a proper gentleman escort. Also, he was paying.

First off, the booze, there was much! Thanks to the help of two high-spirited Irish lads we discovered a new whiskey called Greenore. It’s yummy! Though I doubt they’ll be putting that on the bottle any time soon. It’s very fancy and refined. Also, we toured the Guinness Storehouse and the Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre. Both of which were delightful in their own exceptional ways.

Secondly, the food was almost 100% fabulous! The best of the best was either Cornucopia in Dublin (really, you must try it) or Ard Bia in Galway (again, a do not miss). Followed closely by The Gourmet Tart Co. in Salthill and Wagamama in Dublin. So divine! Anyone that’s told you Irish food isn’t delicious is lying. They are trying to trick you from visiting this fantastic country and making new friends and singing many songs.

Oh and there was singing! So much singing! At Mr. McCluckin’s request we attended a traditional Irish music pub crawl in Dublin. After learning the culture of traditional music playing, the instruments involved and how to identify real, jigs and slip-jigs; everyone joined in on a bit of singing. Oh it was divine! mr. McCluckin’ sang a Billy Joel song and I piped up with a folk song my father used to sing. We were lucky to be on the tour with a group of Swedish tourists with excellent singing voices. All in all, it was a night of excellence and it wrapped up in time for us to hop out to a pub and drink ourselves silly.

We celebrated my hatching day abroad with fine drink and shopping. In fact there may have been a bit too much shopping. I’m not sure we left much of anything in Ireland of other tourists. I haven’t even peeked at our credit card bills just yet. Maybe in a week or so when I feel well-rested again.

I’m working on putting together a Flickr of my photos, until then, enjoy this shot of all the treasures I brought home from the land of Ire.* In fact I best be hopping into bed if I hope to make it to work tomorrow.

From left to right, top to bottom: Row 1: McCluckin’s new murse, Tulamore Dew Warehouse special whiskey, Ireland travel poster, VERY VERY FANCY PILLOW, Row 2: Historical Ireland tea towel, a Claddagh ring, a Guinness soccer ball, clover growing cans, apple syrup, Guinness truffles, a smattering of books, a Guinness cap with a bottle opener on the brim, a jar of strawberry marshmallow fluff, a tin of toffee marked “thanks for watching our pets,” a hand-knitted lady sweater, a cashmere scarf of many colors, Row 3: Artisan Irish chocolate bars, a scarf from Rebecca (so lovely), a tote bag with a unicorn on it, a tin of whiskey fudge, an artsy photo of a monastery, a colouring book, bright orange cashmere gloves. Row 4: More candy!!!, a tiny sheep, Guinness playing cards, a magnet, a claddagh necklace, pub bookmarks, a silver key, Tulamore Dew whiskey truffles, a gaggle of old postcards, Guinness socks, fancy ass chocolate, silly sewing notions, a white manly sweater.

Expect more about Ireland in upcoming posts, including:

How I danced with the ghosts of Clontarf Castle and lived to tell about it! the best way to drink your 7th cup of tea! Where the wild sheep roam! Cheddar and onion crisps, the true enemy at the door!

Smooches for now loves,

XOXO,

Henny Penny

* Phrases marked with this fine and upstanding asterisk may have derived their cleverness from outside, young librarian shaped witsicle.

A Recapping We Shall Go!

Felicitations Darlings!

It’s nearly mid November, that seems the perfect time for a Halloween recap…don’t you think? Let’s see here, this year was a little bonkers. Directly following All Hallow’s Eve I was scheduled to appear in a tutorial video for an upcoming DVD. This was so very much work that it ate my will to live for nearly 2 weeks. The worst part is I can’t show you my videos because they belong to a company that privately releases them to specially selected audiences. {Oh my, that sounds a bit nefarious, but I promise it’s all above the bar…mostly}

Let’s let the pictures do the talking for me, what do you say? Here’s a lovely set of images from my Halloween…

All right, all right perhaps I should do some of the talking. Mr. McCluckin’ and I happen to live next door to aspiring costume designers. So as the kiddies came knocking for candy we also saw our lovely next door buddy skulking about the shrubbery.

 

 

 

 

My new office loves Halloween! Seriously, loves it so much they might marry it. Here we almost all are in our Halloween finery.

 

Also, I decided little Miss Rita should attend Halloween festivities as an Ewok. Isn’t she the best dog model ever?

So that’s about all there is to say about Halloween. Well, I mean there was a chase through a labyrinth and a pants off dance off in the high court of Gandhiville, but that’s a tale for another day.

Toodles for now chums! I’m off to conquer horrors unknown (and have soup)!

XOXO,

Henny Penny

 

 

 

 

Chica-me-out!

G’day Mates and Would-be Suitors!

So October has been a hive of activity at work. We just finished taping an entire season of Sew It All TV and hosting several fabulous guests. As you may recall, I met Brini Maxwell. Though that’s not the end of the namedropping list. I also met Sue Hausmann from America Sews, we had dinner together. She likes onion rings. I managed to sneak my way into the studio on the day that the Crafty Chica was taping an episode. Kathy Cano-Murillo was so insanely nice! She even signed and gave me a copy of her latest novel, Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing. It was thanks to her that I decided to start this blog! I saw her Crafty Chica cruise and I thought “I want a cruise or at a minimum to attend this cruise!” As you well know fair readers, I started this fine blog, then my lovely boss saw this blog and soon enough I had my dream job. To complete the cycle, my dream job ended up introducing me to the Crafty Chica. Certainly this is a sign that all things are right in the world.

In other news, I found 17 kittens at a strip mall and taught them to sing Halloween carols. I hope to take the show on the road soon, but 3 of my brood keep threatening to leave me for the circus.

Also, I discovered a fun new photo app for the iPhone. Pic Stitch helps you create collages and add filters to photos to make them look extra fancy. I assembled a few of my favorite shots from a walk in the Botanic Gardens this summer into a collage just for you. It is fairly easy to use and the ads are very unobtrusive. Considering that the app is free, there’s no reason not to enjoy it every now and again.

Lastly, I finished my mittens just in time for the colder weather. As you can see, I whipped out some badass chain stitchery to make a monocle for my evil right hand mitten. I do so terribly enjoy these mittens. I may have to line them to take to Ireland. (Has this review inspired you to make some of your very own?)

That’s all for now ladies and gents! I’m off to the Jazzercise Opera, it’s a great way to stay in shape and while taking in a bit of culture.

Happy trails to you!

Henny Penny

 

Too Much Wonderful

Aloha Lasses and Brutes,

The past few weeks have been a resplendent rainbow of glorious happiness. First off, I leveled up in my MMOG, Miss Brickle’s Candylicious Fairietown. As a level 7 Glowworm I can behead just about any creature at or below my level with my toffee throwing stars. It’s really making the game that much better.

Secondly, my lovely and dear friend Kevin announced a Kickstarter initiative and wouldn’t you know it, he made his goal. Though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate anyway. Visit his Dr. Zebrovski’s Hour of Power page to learn about the amazing show he will be performing very soon and near you (assuming you live in San Francisco).

Thirdmost, Cider Days struck Denver this past week with a fury not seen in years! While the day was chilly and sleetful, Mr. McCluckin’ and I ventured forth with a bag of apples to see what magic could be found. We discovered an insanely old cider press, several delightful volunteers, a few mules, and a pork chop on a stick. More than anything the cider press was the best part! Here’s how it worked:

1) Take a washed apple and break it in half on a thin metal bar. 

2) Toss the apple halves into the “chucker” or gaping maw of the apple destroying machine.

3) Turn the crank.

4) Mush up apples like it’s 1899.

5) Collect apple mush in wooden basket lined with a burlap sack.

6) Slide the wooden basket down to the press, then wheel the press down upon the apples with all the might you can muster. 

7) Watch the glorious life spirit of the apples pour forth in cider form.

8) Pour that cider into your jug.

9) Profit.

I have to admit I took all the glory and did the crank spinning. Though Mr. McCluckin’ did an admirable job of tossing apples into the chucker. Ultimately, the ingenuity of yesteryear was the star of the show. The cider press we used was from 1922, but they had some older models about.

 

Fourthful, following the Cider Days explosion my good and kindly husband delivered me to the Horseshoe Market. This wonderful fair only happens thrice a year. The judges seem to know exactly what I would like to buy and  offer it readily at the many booths spread about the parking lot. I found so many treasures I simply cannot describe how excited I was, despite the crappy weather. My favorite booth by far is hosted by the Clean Getaway Soap Co. Their soap is easily the best in the entire world. I prefer the Summertime Blues flavor but I am willing to branch out on occasion. This time around I picked up 3 bars of it to make it through the rest of the year, plus 1 bar of the Mahalo flavor to test the waters. The Ink Lounge also hosts a lovely booth and I found a few photos of miniature men to call me own. The best part is that the pictures were taken in Ireland, where I will soon be!

Lastly, do you know who Brini Maxwell is? You don’t? Shame on you! Go watch this video and make yourself a better person. I had the inexplicable honour of meeting her yesterday! She was in town to tape an episode of Sew It All TV. I managed to finagle my way into the studio and shake her lovely and dainty hand. Then we spoke about vintage fabric, sheath dresses, and pumpkin body shapes. She even complemented my dress. It was one of the best moments of all time.

Well that’s all the news that is news! Hope you are living la vida loca my darlings.

Farewell for now,

Henny Penny

Let Funtober Begineth!

Well hey there hooligans and germaphobes!

So glad to see you again, it has truly been ages. Woof, Blergtember is over and I have much to show for it. I spent nearly every waking moment that I hadn’t already promised to work or the chickadees auxiliary club sewing a quilt top. My promises of quilting up something lovely for one of my wee lady friends had proven quite a challenge. Despite the sore claws and lack of meal breaks, I persevered and managed to get the top together before her birthday party.

It’s a flying shuttles pattern and soon I will be shipping it away to a long arm quilter. Then I promise myself, I shall perform a quilt shunning for a solid 3 months before returning to the quarter-inch seam world. If there is one word to describe my experience quilting it would be: woof-sweet-baby-cthulhu-this-shall-be-the-death-of-me.

 

 

 

On to more exciting topics, like presents! Mr. McCluckin’ really decided I was due for some spoiling and surprised me all last week. Each morning he arranged for me to discover a note and a set of embroidery patterns. All of the patterns came from the Stitcher’s Revolution line of Colonial Patterns. They are so ridiculously nifty. I have many plans for their deliciousness. Maybe I’ll just take a few of the patterns to the nearest tattoerie and get the neck ink I’ve always wanted. There’s no telling what these patterns and I will be up to in the coming months.

As you may recall I encouraged you to visit the Craft Ninja‘s mitten-palooza last month. It was a day I shall never forget, and aren’t you sad you missed it? First off, Becky the HNIC (head-ninja-in-charge) was crazy nice, which might be a ploy to lure you in and kill you with craftiness. Beth, my co-worker and hopefully soon-to-be-friend, taught most of the mitten lesson. Plus she even made the pattern (download the pattern here and make mittens for your next game of hammerhead hopscotch). I started making a pair of mittens but then became very busy helping others in their quest for mittendom. Nonetheless, my mitten monsters are laid out and need a bit assistance to become handworthy, but then it’s all mittens all the time.

I intend to attend the upcoming sugar skull thunderdome project hosted by the Craft Ninja’s so here’s your chance to experience the glory of the 3 Kings Basement. RSVP soon to save a spot next to me.

In other news, I needed to have a headshot taken for my worky work and they dolled my face and hair up to the extreme. This is the most makeup I have ever worn and here’s hoping it is the most I will ever wear.

Let it be decreed, Funtober hath begun and the soon all of the fun shall be had. Let us rejoice! To the field of rakes!

Chip, chip, cheroo!

Henny Penny

Ye Olde Portland Craftorium

– – – – – – – – – – Crafty Dossier – – – – – – – – – – –

When: August, 2012

Where: Portland, OR

Why: To boldly go, where many a crafter has gone before

Who: Yours truly and my faithful sidekick Mr. McCluckin’

Alas, fair Denver had turned on the sizzle thus my rooster and I decided it was time to high tail it to a cooler locale. Of course we considered Alaska (the final frontier) and the thought of a return trip to Iceland came to mind, but Portland sang her siren song of cheap airfare and retro lodgings and we followed willingly.

Public art atop the courthouse.

Portland, Oregon is home to many a wondrous spectacle. There’s the public art that is far more quirky than any I’ve seen thus far, cookie happy hour (thank you kindly Blue Collar Baking Co.), rivers of ridiculously delicious beer, a city within the city built entirely of books,  bridges galore, trucks filled with gourmet eats permanently located a block or two from you (no matter where you are), a constant bicycle palooza and of course coffee nirvana. With all this going for it, I am sure it comes as no surprise that Portland also has an absolutely spectacular crafty scene.

Banana madness!

Once we’d made it through the city gates and settled into our temporary casa, it was time to explore the crafty goodness that is Portland. I always love a trip to the Saturday Market to whet my appetite. This bazaar hosts class acts from all across Oregon. Held under the Burnside bridge, the Saturday Market has been continually running since 1974, making it the most punctual of craft-splosions anywhere. Here you will find everything from prolific potters and witty woodworkers to whimsical weavers and smell-tastic soapsmiths. Anything and everything you can imagine made by the hands and hearts of Oregonians.

embroidery detail

The Hat People stand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. McCluckin’ and I always make it a point to stop and visit with the Hat People. Based in Oregon for over 30 years the stylish caps are sewn by a family and fitted to your head with an ingenious elastic band + safety pin mechanism. As prolific cap donners, the rooster and I can rarely pass up purchasing one of these lovely caps. The detail work is delightful and the fit is fantastic. Speaking with the happy Hat People you learn that this family created their patterns and sewed together just for the fun of it. Every hat you try on holds a bit of family history and a great deal of love.  These days they have expanded to employ two seamstresses but it is still a family run business.

Bonus Pants!

Moving through the booths and stalls of the Saturday Market you are sure to spy treasures. I was lured to the Bonus Pants booth by the witty signs exclaiming all the features of the boxers sold within. The bacon bedecked boxers held a sign saying “Thick and Meaty or Limp and Greasy, Suitable for anyone that can bring it home and fry it up or Guys named Kevin or Sir Francis.” I just couldn’t help myself, the advertising was luring me in (most likely with use of the dark side and its puns). Talking with the proprietress of Bonus Pants she said that her booth is 100% thanks to all of the fun new quilting cottons on the market these days. If it weren’t for donut covered cotton she would never stitch up the “Eat My Shorts” version of her hilarious boxers (perfect for anyone holier-than-thou). The crafters of Portland come from all age groups and respond quickly to the changes and themes of the craftiverse.

The Domestic Bias booth.

Next I was waylaid by reversible tote bags with more pockets than I had dreamed possible. I had arrived at Domestic Bias a mother and daughter run spot featuring the stitchy work of mum Wendy and the paper fun of daughter Jaime. Wendy and I chatted about how her retirement has become a never-ending stream of sewing delightful projects to sell at the Saturday Market and other craft fairs. From aprons and totes to kiddie play smocks and twirling skirts, Wendy just enjoys spending time with her sewing machine. She clued me in to fancy fabric on the cheap in the remnants and clearance department of Fabric Depot. Apparently this shop is gianormous and stacked to the rafters with fabric from every designer around. Wendy makes her bags with heavy duty material which can add up rather quickly, but shopping in the leftovers pile has saved her a pretty penny and helped her turn a profit.

Mugwump-tastic!

Unusual fabric and materials for projects is a common theme in Oregon. In fact the good people at Mugwump specialize in finding items no one wants any more and sending them through a metamorphosis wherein they turn into accouterments you can no longer live without. With an entire wall devoted to bags made of old board games and business card wallets created by laminating and stitching together pages from discarded books, the Mugwump booth is very alluring.

Fort Awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering away from the Saturday Market led me to discover that personalizing your space with the discards of others holds a special place in the hearts of Portlanders. On my many walks down to Hawthorne Street I came across Fort Awesome, a bench made of broken tiles and cement and a funny sign about macaroni noodles loving cheese; all of which seemed to be made from second hand items. This theme of making it your way is reflected in the food cart movement that is alive and well in Portland. By the by, food from carts is easily the best food one can eat while visiting Stumptown.

Mr. McCluckin’ getting his eat on.

Crafty Wonderland’s jewelry case.

Inspiration was lurking everywhere. It seems that if you have crafty skills, Portland would like to recruit you. Downtown along SW 10th Ave hosts the Multnomah Public Library (a delight for even the out-of-towner) but also a chain of shops that carry the work of Oregonian artists and crafters. Here I spent hours enjoying Crafty Wonderland before popping down the way to Radish Underground. Walking along 10th, visiting several shops and learning about Portland artists from all sorts of genres blissfully ate one afternoon. Why would a few blocks in Downtown Portland create such a feeling of euphoria? Simply put, nowhere else has it seemed so stupendously possible to make a living as a crafty goddess.

The lovely fabric of Josephine’s Dry Goods.

With ideas aplenty zooming about my noggin I jumped at the chance to roam Josephine’s Dry Goods. This fabric, notions, and sewing class shop has been pedaling their wares for over 30 years in downtown Portland. The employees are true sewists. One staff member told me that they are the only fabric shop in downtown Portland, the others are in the suburbs but to be a successful business you have to root yourself in the community. She said they offer all sorts of sewing classes and open their doors for sewing nights to encourage others to stitch under their roof. Everyone in Portland was welcoming and spoke of the sewing and crafting community fondly. As though they were all one big happy family. Nowhere else have I seen such a commitment to DIY and DIWN (do it with a neighbor).

Dear Portland, Will you go out with me? Yes No Maybe (circle one) XOXO, Henny

It’s hard to say I wasn’t tempted to up and move to Portland after this spectacular trip. Though more than anything it has convinced me that Denver has the potential to become a mecca of craft-happiness. I’ll just need a few friends, a bolt cutter, three yards of muslin, and some rivets to make it happen.

Bidding you adieu from the safety and comfort of my yellow armchair, this is Henny Penny signing off for now but not for always.

 

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Come one! Come all to the Craft Ninjas gathering Sunday, September 23 at 1 pm. Make mittens all kittens will covet! Talk about sewing! Sing songs! Seriously, you should come.

I’m going to be at the Craft Ninjas sewing funshop this Sunday and I feel strongly that you should also attend. Mention your intention to attend on FB, then RSVP on the Craft Ninjas page.

I’m just going to assume you will be there, so hooray for seeing you this Sunday.

Smooches,

Henny Penny

No Rest for the Crafty

Welcome Winners!

The past few weeks have been a bit hectic. My new digs have kept me quite busy. The fun part is that this career includes crafting. Last week I made antiqued envelopes for an upcoming photo shoot. I spent way more time than necessary getting them just right. More than likely they will be barely visible. Plus I am learning machine embroidery! It seems most of the work is in learning how to get the fancy pants machine to do your bidding. Tomorrow I am going to build a shrine to the goddess of Bernina in hopes that she will grant me luck in my stitching.

Just when I thought I had a handle on my new worky work routine it was time to visit Portland for a long weekend Mr. McCluckin’ and I planned months ago. I spent much of my time talking to seamstresses that were turning a profit or just living it up in Stumptown. More on this to come…so stay tuned blog readers!

While in Portland we slept in an apartment decked out in 60s and 70s decor. It was so sublime! The best part (for me at least) was the dressing room with a day bed to lounge upon while considering your wardrobe choice for the day. Seriously, all my little girl dreams came true!

Ta for now, I must make the sleepy face for a few hours.

Smooches,

Henny Penny