Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My New Crafting Hero

I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction.  Nuclear war, pandemics, volcanic winter, asteroid collisions.  Even though it sometimes gives me nightmares, I am a sucker for stories of bands of scrappy survivors trying to move on after a huge catastrophe--the grimmer, the better.  (No zombies, though, because I want to read about apocalypses that can actually happen.)

This might not sound like a scenario ripe for comedy, but the new FOX sitcom The Last Man on Earth is just my kind of show.  Two years after a virus wipes out nearly all human and animal life, Phil Miller (played by Will Forte, one of my favorite comic actors) tries to carve out an existence for himself and stave off loneliness.  After criticizing the movie Castaway for Tom Hank's volleyball companion, he soon has a veritable social circle of sports balls with smiley faces drawn on them.

Soon, he finds out that he is not alone.  Into the scene comes Carol, played by Kristen Schaal.  I have been a big fan of Schaal since she was on Flight of the Conchords as Mel, an obsessive fan.  She is also the voice of Louise on Bob's Burgers, and I got to see her in their live show!

"There's really no wrong way to use a margarita pool."
Schaal brings the obsessive qualities of her previous characters to Last Man.  Carol is prim, shrill, and focused on details.  She insists that Phil continue to follow all pre-virus rules and social conventions, including stopping for stop signs and getting married before they repopulate the world.  Phil spends his post-virus existence indulging in destruction, playing with a flame thrower and bowling with aquariums instead of pins.  In contrast, Carol spends much of her free time making crafts.  She can be seen knitting and sewing in the backgrounds of scenes.  It brings to mind the Facebook meme, "Knitting:  It's not a craft, it's a post-apocalyptic life skill."  (I am afraid that if I were left with all the time I could ever want to craft, it would end up being a Twilight Zone "Time Enough at Last" situation.)

As the episodes go on, however, Carol's crafts aren't just a sign of her fussy nature.  They become symbolic of the way that she is trying to make the best of a bad situation.  She knows that Phil only married her out of desperation, and she puts a lot of effort into make it work.  Each stage of their relationship is marked by one of Carol's crafts.  She raids an abandoned craft store to get decorations for the wedding, and retreats there after Phil screws it up.  She bedazzles a pillow to inform Phil that he is being a jerk.

"You know how I feel about scrubs."  "You don't want no."
When Phil thinks he has finally worked up the courage to tell Carol the truth, he loses the will to end the relationship when he sees the door decoration she made for their house.

"Phil, you know the door symbolizes our marriage."  "I know, Carol.  I know."
When neither of them can ignore the reality of their situation any longer, Carol shows him the ugly quilt she made from found fabrics as a way of giving him permission to divorce her.

"It's time to fold this relationship up and put it in the closet."
Now that the characters are going back to a World Made by Hand, Carol's handmade projects take on a greater significance.
What are your favorite crafting moments from TV and movies?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Story Time Sampler: April

For the Frosted Pumpkin yearly sampler, I've been wondering what book would be covered for my birth month.  I was excited by the answer--The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

Last November, I won a pack of Kreinik metallic thread in the &Stitches contest.  It looked beautiful, but I couldn't figure out the best way to use it.  This was the perfect opportunity.  Dorothy's ruby slippers and Emerald City called for a little bling.  Metallic thread can be a huge pain to work with, but I've picked up some tips to make it more manageable.

"And your little dog, too!"

One of my favorite memories of high school was the day in AP US History when we watched the movie synced up with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  Mr. Bolos claimed we were doing this because the novel was an allegory for 1890's populism, but who were we kidding?  It was just an excuse to have fun!

When I look at the sparkly thread, it makes me think of my favorite sync moment.  When Dorothy opens the door of her house, the appearance of colorful Oz coincides with the cash register sounds at the start of "Money."


This post is dedicated to my mom.  Even though she has hated the movie since she was a child, I hope my stitching provides her some cheer today!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Get Your Fiber

I'm always trying out new ways to be productive in my stitching to see what sticks.  My newest idea was to designate specific days of the week for specific types of projects:

Sunday-Tuesday:  Other cross-stitch projects
Wednesday-Friday:  Frosted Pumpkin projects
Saturday:  Original embroidery projects (which progress much faster)

I got the idea from someone who said they have a different WIP to work on every day of the month.  That sounds like it would kill better stitchers than me, but I was intrigued by the idea of scheduling projects.  It has enough variety where I would not get fatigued working on one project exclusively, but would allow for enough time on each individual project to make real progress.  I followed this plan for a week and was pleased with the results.

Then Frosted Pumpkin released an amazing new pattern, and the new schedule went south.

The new pattern is Fibery Friends, an alphabet sampler with a fiber arts theme.  They designed it as an exclusive pattern to sell at Stitches West, a big fiber arts expo.  The border features projects (mittens and socks), tools (knitting needles, spinning wheel), and our favorite animals for yarn (sheep, angora bunny).  It even has a penguin, because PENGUINS NEED SWEATERS!*

In addition to combining my love for both embroidery and knitting in the most adorable way possible, I was also intrigued by the design.  The suggested fabric is bright pink, with thread colors in muted cool tones.  I couldn't wait to see how it stitched up.  I was SO motivated that, working on it exclusively, I completed it in a record 10 days!  

Year of the Sheep
My schedule idea has its place when I have a few projects going that need roughly equal levels of attention.  If, however, I feel really excited about working on one special project, I shouldn't feel shame in riding that wave of passion while it lasts.

*Disclaimer:  Penguins do not actually need sweaters, no matter how many times your aunt shares that article with you on Facebook.