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Jumpers and Jazz in July 2021 – Did de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

If there is one good thing to come out of 2020, it's having a bonus of 12 months to work and complete my jumper for the 2021 Jumpers and Jazz in July tree jumper exhibition! If the festival had not been postponed last year, I would have completed my jumper in time for installation. The postponement meant that I could review and then make a bold decision to pull apart the almost completed serape blanket element and start again. The shape was wonky, and I was not happy with the SC stitch look.

Before I even starting crocheting the serape blanket, I planned the stripe sequence by counting the rows on a blanket that I own and transcribing it into an Excel spreadsheet! I love a spreadsheet at the best of times, and it was perfect for this task! I knew how many colours were needed and could adjust depending on the colours available. Hooray for being a nerd and loving spreadsheets!

After starting the serape blanket in November 2019, I became aware of and fell in love with mosaic crochet. Fast forward to April 2021. I started on the remake blanket and 'frogged' (pulled out the rows) the original blanket, recycling the yarn in the new blanket.

A Sixel paid pattern provided the amazing skulls used for the black and white top blanket and the blanket's top feature stripe. Unfortunately, I could not find the right pattern online for the feature stripe typically seen in serape blankets. So, I made one! This was my first attempt at creating a mosaic crochet pattern. I'm delighted with how the stripe turned out. The sugar skulls featured on the altar were also made last year. But, if I am honest, I was not looking forward to decorating them. I am not an experienced embroiderer, so the thought of embroidering flowers onto them was not one I was wild about. A trip to Melbourne to visit friends and family provided me with an opportunity to assist my cousin with a craft project. It turned out it was embroidery and not crochet. I followed some simple instructions in that session, which turned out to be the flowers and dots that I needed for the sugar skulls! Thank you, fate.

Synchronicity has played a major part in the creation of this jumper. So many times, I was left jaw open thinking, 'oh my goodness, what?' with how bits all fell into place. I could fill a novel if I were to list them all. But, perhaps it's best to focus on the special one. I did not intend to tribute this jumper to my dad. And to be honest, I hadn't even associated him with it. That only happened when I realised I had to book time off to stitch the jumper onto the tree. Noting the installation date, I realised that it was the date of my father's funeral. The theme and date coinciding made for perfect timing. I knew right then that I was dedicating the jumper to Murray.

I start to think about a theme for a jumper for 'next year' as I am installing my jumper. In 2019 I thought, mmm, Mexican food as I stitched on my sushi themed jumper. Then I realised that I could make sugar skulls asI am quite down with making a skull. The idea bloomed in making a serape blanket, with a Day of the Dead altar, and off a started on the design. With the gap last year, I had actually started on next year's theme ideas before installation day.  I think I have settled on a concept. It'll bounce around in my head for a while before starting the pattern making phase and commencing the crochet phase.

A lot was learnt by making this blanket. I have added new crochet skills and techniques to my repertoire. The recognition of my abilities in being named as the winner of the Excellence in Knitting and/or Crochet section is truly magical. I am grateful and congratulate all winners and entrants on producing such extraordinarily stunning pieces.

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Restock of my cube spaces at in.cube8r in Fitzroy and Prahran

I was whacked with the flu. It laid me out. I didn't pick up a hook for a week! That in itself is a sign that I was not well. 

As I was feeling better I checked my stock and saw that many of the critters had been adopted and I had to make more, lots more! And so began my mission to make up a fresh batch of beasties to ship down to my cube spaces at in.cube8r gallery in Fitzroy and Prahran in Melbourne. 

Lucky I love making them all. I smashed them out quite possibly the fastest I have ever done so before. I think a big part of this was down to my updated patterns for the zombinos and voodoo babies. They come together quickly. I also think that working as a production line helps too. 

Here's a gallery of all what I shipped out. Best pop instore soon as no sooner had the been unpacked that one of the zombie beer cosies was sold! Cheers to you whoever you were!

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Jumpers and Jazz in July 2019 – Ebi Fry

There's a chill in the air. It's July, which that means it's time for the Jumpers and Jazz in July festival! Last year as I was stitching on my tree jumper had an idea of what to make for this year's jumper: sushi. I have come to realise that this was somewhat cheeky and obvious. If you consider that my jumper last year was a giant pink squid! I did, in fact, make some calamari to include in my installation but I held on to it as it didn't quite work. On installation day, I packed up my truck with all my pieces and tools and headed to the hills. I got on the road much later than I had planned. It wasn't too bad though, as the sun was shining bright and it was quite warm. It would have been good to have an offsider as I did struggle a bit with attaching the underlying foam... and then there was the fit issue. Oh, my goodness! I had some work to do to make the jumper fit. I'm not sure if my calculations were out, or if my tree has out on some weight! I very nearly had a tantrum, ripped it all of, packed it up and drove away. But that's not what I do. I persevered and came up with a plan and made some massive changes. My very friend Nick wandered up for a chat at just the right time. He was put to work holding things in place while I stitched bits together. It's all part of making something custom-fit an object that lives 2 hours drive away. It is the first time I can remember having to make such an adjustment in my history of making tree jumpers for Jumper and Jazz!

As I completed the sewing up, and I stepped back to see how it looked, I was close to tears. It looked nothing like it was supposed to in my head. I didn't want to take any photos as I was embarrassed by what I had put up. I was very disappointed with myself. AS I walked my gear back to the truck, I comforted myself with thoughts of "you can't make it great every year" and "you had to have a fail one time." This was the time. Friends assured me that it looked great; that I was overreacting and that I was too critical of myself. I hear their words, but I didn't agree. It wasn't a ploy to garner appreciation. I was 100% ashamed and hoped no one would look at it.

Touring the jumpers the next day and viewing the beautiful pieces just added to my woes and feelings of failure. It is true that an artist is their own toughest critic. Fast forward to Saturday >>> I had completely forgotten about judging. I received an SMS from my friend Helen. I could scarcely believe what I had read. Our friend Sarah had won the Open Artistic Section. Helen had been named Hall of Fame inductee, Narelle Mercer had taken out the Connect Theme Section, and that I had won the Excellence in Knitting and/or Crochet Section!!! I still cannot fathom this result. Thank you to this year's judges - whoever you are. Thank you for not seeing the flaws I see.

While I am dishing out thank yous, a huge thank you to those of you who have sent me photos of your interactions with Ebi Fry. I cannot express how much I love to see them. It truly makes me happy :^)

This year I have another installation in AOK Clothing on Palmerin Street. I have included 2018 and 2017 jumpers 'Squink' and 'Sherbert', as well as my unselected WOW entry from 2017 'BoBo'. If you're touring the jumpers, please make sure you stop by and have a look.

Cheers to perseverance!

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Throw Me a Bone

In my day job, we have a canine team member. He loves soft toys. His handler asked if I would make him something he can cuddle with at work. We thought it might be amusing if it was a bone. It came out ok and it turned out that he loved it! I made a few more to the point that I was obsessed with making bones. My team members all have pets. I decided to make them each one for the furbaby as a Christmas gift. Two of the team are parents to cats, so a doggo bone wasn't going to be suitable. A random thought popped into my head early one Saturday morning. "Fishbones!" I had a clear image of what I wanted to make. It took me a couple of hours to work out a pattern, but I was stoked with how it turned out. I will be stocking my cube at in.cub8r in Fitzroy with these - and will look to add to my online shop. Here are some of the satisfied customers enjoying their bones. Big thank you to these cuties for allowing me to display their images here.
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A WOW of a time

As the WOW 30 show continues to roll on, my experience is complete. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "the wait to the Awards Show is so long for it to be all over so quickly."

I missed out on the 2017 show, so returning for the 30th Anniversary show was such a relief, very exciting and fabulous! We attended the pre-show fundraiser event on Wednesday. Oh my. I felt so proud walking into TSB Arena. Seeing my entry on stage with some of the most extraordinary pieces that I have ever seen just tripled, not quadrupled my pride; and appreciation for just how beautiful it was to be selected this year. All the hours, all the sewing, all the persevering with making my weird plant cell mass. All totally worth it. I flew over not expecting to place or receive an award. On seeing the show, I knew that I wouldn't, and I was very ok with that. It's cliche but just being selected is so extraordinary. I'm filled with pride and joy.

A week in Wellington is never long enough. It's one cool capital. The food, the beer, the climate: I love it! It's familiar, it's comfortable, and it feels like home. Attending the show is excellent, but it's catching up with WOW friends that I cherish. I confess this year I felt some pangs of shyness and awkwardness. I'm not sure if this down to not being selected in 2017, or why I felt so overwhelmed with waves of anxiety. My mind can be its own worst enemy. I just wish it hadn't chosen WOW to go on a bender. Not to be discouraged, I really had a ball. I received plenty of positive feedback and reactions to my entry Cell Belle. The two I will carry with me are "Did you use Swarovski crystals?" and " You really managed to camouflage the human form."

WOW put on a Designer's Day on Thursday before the awards show. All attending designers New Zealanders and International, gather for a full day of activities, networking and fun. In the afternoon the 6 section details for WOW 2019 were revealed by Dame Suzie Moncrief and Heather Palmer. Even as the words came out of Suzie's mouth I felt a rush of inspiration, excitement and I was bursting with ideas. In past years my design concepts have taken a few months to develop. It seemed almost instantaneous for me this year. I have already nominated my intention to enter and have been feverishly working out several elements and writing patterns for the crochet pieces that will make up a complete wearbleart piece. I wish I could just stop everything and work 100% on this, but the bills roll in and the work must be attended to.

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Under the Microscope: Cell Belle

I can finally share with the world my World of Wearableart entry for 2018. The section theme is Under the Microscope. My entry is titled, Cell Belle. I didn't like to hope that I would make it through to the show this year after not making it last year. If I have learnt one thing from WOW, it is not to expect to make it. This year I didn't dare even think that it would be successful. People say to me "you're awesome, of course, it will" but I know better. I have been to a show. The entry standard raises with each year. I feel like I have fluked it to date.

In April when the pre-selection notifications arrived, it was beautiful to draw a breath and consider that I was in with a shot. The judging weekend in July proved to be a polarised set of emotions. Parts of me felt like that it was fine. There was nothing more I could do and that it will be what it is. Other parts of me were exploding with terror thinking about how poorly the fit on the model might be, and maybe I had packed her up poorly so that she didn't unpack well. It turns out the model presenting Cell Belle sold the ever-lovin' shit out of her and that her programme photo was taken that day. Now here I am tonight at the Awards Show being WOWed up the wazoo! There's no doubt a flood of tears pouring down my cheeks as this post well, posts.

The entry process beyond the creation of the garment is extensive. It pushes me to express myself to the very boundaries of my abilities. The Dressing Instructions are the most fun for me, as I love creating and formatting documents. I am not a whizz with the words, but I enjoy that element of entering. Coming up with the inspiration wording for my entry, on the other hand, is a huge challenge me. I am keenly aware of the why and the process, but due to the sheer personal nature of it, I struggle to get the words out right. Prepping for this post I re-read my entered spiel, and I can honestly say that I impressed myself. It had been a while since I'd written it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. Go me! I'm so impressed that I feel like sharing my words with you as an accompaniment to the visuals. We are asked to supply three pieces of information:

1. Short Inspiration - which is the wording that will appear in the programme.

2. Long Inspiration - which I guess is a wordier version that the judges are provided with as the entry garment is presented for assessment.

And 3. Garment Story. The model selected to represent a designer for judging reads this. They use it to develop their understanding of the garment so that they can best present what we (the designers) are wanting to express and provide a clearer understanding of why the entry is where it is. The following are my three submitted descriptions:

Short Inspiration:

Plant cell sequins'ing.

Long Inspiration:

My inspiration came when I Googled 'single cell organism,' and saw Euglena for the first time. I wanted to create a plant-based creature/cross-section/thing, with sequins - lots of sequins. And it had to have a long, sparkly flagellum (tail). The garment is made up of 100% crochet. The many, many sequins have been individually handsewn.

Garment story: 

I knew what I wanted to create as soon as I Google Image searched for single-celled organisms. One species, Euglena caught my attention. When I read that most species of Euglena have "photosynthesising chloroplasts so that they feed like plants and can also take nourishment heterotrophically, like animals," that was it! I also enjoy a good feed. These guys must like one so much that they adapt to ensure eating no matter what. I wanted to create something that was in essence plant-based. I took the chlorophyll element as the base for the overall palette. I didn't want to make an exact representation of the cell structure. Instead, I opted for a multi-celled organism of a garment that is a bit glam, strong, feminine, and sparkly.

My creative process tends to go like this: I start with my initial sketches and concept. Once I begin the crochet part, it all becomes a whole other 'beast.' The crochet tends to guide me as to how it will work and wants to be. The original silhouette radically changed when I was working out how to structure the crochet fabric around the human form. The lower section of grid-like sequins came about when I thought I wasn't able to purchase more of the yarn that I was using (engage panic stations!). It was the backup plan, and I have fallen in love with it, and it is perhaps my favourite bit. I can happily say that sewing sequins are my meditation. Which is lucky as I kept thinking of new ideas and elements like the shoes, that needed sequins sewn on them.

In my previous designs, I have made a creature, which in my eyes, have had a very male presence. Cell Belle is female. Once I recognised her femininity, the construction of future pieces of the garment came easily. The tutu skirt came out of the fact that I'd made ten too many of the green cell motifs that form the upper section. I was fiddling with them imagining what they might be; the next thing I knew I had started on an undergarment. Crochet guided me on it the look and overall outcome 100%. It whispered that it would be a skirt and onwards I went. I know gender is not essential, particularly in a garment but I tend to feel a personality from the things I create. Perhaps it is this more than a gender that I take guidance from? Maybe I'm just a bit nutty and see a soul where there isn't one.

When I make an entry for the World of Wearableart, there is one thing that I can be sure of, and that is that I learn, and I develop my skillset as I go. I am driven by a voice in my head that encourages me to make something that will impress Suzie and Heather. I catch myself muttering "no, Suzie won't like that" if I feel I need to make a drastic change or improvement. Each year I have entered I have finished the process with new techniques and abilities. Trying to impress WOW makes me a better creative. This year my entry is beyond anything I have ever attempted before. I feel like I have made a real fashion piece. I have gone beyond my creature bodysuit costumes. I have embraced negative space over complete disguise. I am proud of the result.

If you made it through this far, thank you for reading. Here's a snapshot of the individual elements as they were being created.

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Fresh Meat: Dragbots

It is well and truly time that I developed some new pieces to add to my suite of creepies who haunt my cube space. After making the Jinkx and Trixie dolls, an idea began to bubble in my head. It should have been obvious. It wasn't. It has become a real-life thing and you can now find zombie dragbots aka drag queen dolls at in.cube8r gallery in Fitzroy. The zombie queens developed after making several humanesque drag queen dolls. They have also made the journey south - hopefully with brains intact - and are also available to purchase. I'll see how they are received, but really hope that it's positive as I really enjoy making them.
*** As I was adding the product information to my online stock list, I note that the middle queen in pink (above) has been purchased. A good sign that I will get to make more!
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Dragbots to the cube

Ding! That epiphany moment. I've dabbled in making some Drag Race inspired pieces for my cube space at in.cube8r gallery in Fitzroy previously. But last weekend I went to the Comedy Queens show at Fluffy in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. A few of my favourites from RuPaul's Drag Race were on the bill: namely Ginger Minj, Trixie Mattel and Jinkx Monsoon*. I didn't secure myself a meet & greet ticket. Just General Admission, at early bird pricing I might add ;^)

In the days leading up to the show, I found myself twitching with an idea. I wanted to make a Jinkx and a GIVE to their namesake! I've previously gone all fangirl over and gifted the very first Drag Reversi-ball I developed to Manila at The Heathers meet & greet.

The day before the show I could ignore the creative niggle twitching away inside me no more! I sat down, came up with a pattern and began to make crochet versions of Jinkx and Trixie. It was body-oddy-oddy day on Saturday. Then hair and face-face-face on Sunday. I spent the entire day on them. When I left to go to the show, I decided not to take them. I could not foresee any way that I could deliver them successfully. I was swept away by my nerves. No regrets. Actually, small regrets. I could've pushed to the front of the stage during the show and handed them over. I could've. But twice?! Nah, I'm cool. I just need to decide if I keep them or if I send them on down to in.cube8r...

The process has inspired a brand new range of Dragbots. I am busy developing a suite of new drag queen amigurumi crochet dolls. I plan to ship to in.cube8r as soon as I can finish them.


*For the record, Ginger and Sherry Vine were the absolute standouts on the night #gagging

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Cube Top Up Time

It's true. I am a naughty Cuber. I have been very slack with replenishing my cube space at in.cube8r in 2018. My creative quest has reached its conclusion, and I am back 100% on my favourite game. I am taking a parcel full to the brim with beer cosies to the mail shop this morning. This will be the first of many packages over the next few weeks. New dolls of all types are under construction. I'll put together a group and ship them ASAP!
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And now for some in.cube8ring

I am very sorry. I have have been a naughty member of the in.cube8r gallery community in 2018. As I have spent the first seven months of this year completely engrossed in my major project pieces, I have entirely neglected my cube space. I'm lucky that I had replenished it mightly and that there has been a reasonable supply to make a display. Big thank you to Elle-May and Clairebear for helping to make my cube look its best and for being so understanding with my distraction. I have time to get back into my favourite mode: making my little creepies. The first mission: beer cosys!! I'm a tad rusty and needed to refer to my pattern notes to get the ball rolling again. I will get a bunch together and ship them pronto. I'm concerned about the shipping process though. I have had such terrible luck with packages being delayed en route to Fitzroy. I'll have to pay attention to which method to use this time. Best I cease this typing business for now though. I have hooking to do!