Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Farewell to Tentacles

I have over 50 squid for sale in my etsy shop. I think this is the most I have ever had. This doesn't even include magnet and brooch squid, apron squid or Tadly and Abigail. In fact, my shop is as full as it ever has been. Or, will be for quite some time. A long time, actually. Basically forever. I have mentioned before about branching out to other things. I am knee deep in those other things at the moment. One knee is in the learning pit. The other is in the embroidering wares pit. A partial knee is in a pit that involves helping the dear husband manage and schedule his business. I never even knew I had another knee but one day, poof, there it was, hanging out in a pit.
This past year was not great for selling plush squid. But I am grateful to say it was the first time in 6 years I ever even came close to a bad year. Which is amazing and awesome. But, as with anyone selling niche pieces of art, one bad season can be nigh catastrophic. So there have been changes in plans. Although, after 6 years the changes are more along the lines of kicking myself into new territories that I was planning on going in anyway. I'm kind of glad I had a bad season because I probably would have dragged my feet even more with the new plans if I hadn't. I still love the squid but I'd also love to do new things. New things that can't always be expressed in cephalopod form. New things that will make it impossible for me to sew squid and Tadly full time. So now, with the Cleo Dee's shop nicely stuffed I am taking a knee out of the squid making pit.  I'm not planning on doing any shows in 2012. So with that in mind I have put up the last of my squid and Tadly stock. My custom squid listing will still be available but the Squid a Month Clubs will only be available until the listings expire. March 28th for the 1 year and April 6th for the 6th months. I will keep the shop up as long as the squid on there are around. For the 2012 Holiday Season I will be listing my leftover squidtivites and holiday squid. This blog will focus more on original embroidery and the making of miniatures (in felt and other materials) plus when I'm more comfortable some peeks into what I've been learning. There will still be some squid a month club photos popping up since I have 3 clubs open for another 14 months. And of course the usual stuff will still be on here. Posts about the odd things I see, how I've spent my entire weekend seasoning 5 pieces of cast iron and I'm still not done MY GOD I AM STILL NOT DONE. And of course posts about my giant cat. Update: right now he is sitting on the floor by my chair sneezing. It sounds wet.
I hope you don't mind all of the changes and that you find something of interest in my new stuff. And I hope you enjoy the final batch of squid that are in the shop. I think it's a pretty good selection of all of the favorites. Not only your favorites but mine as well. I have loved what I've done these past 6 years and am thankful that you all have helped me experience what it would be like to travel around the country selling stuffed squid out of steamer trunks.  I hope you've been able to tell that in my work and in my blog and that you stick around to see what I cook up next.
Thanks again, Friends.

200 Stitches: Zigzag Stitch

If you're not using pearl cotton thread then these stitches should be much closer together. So this looks more like little mountains than zigzags.

Friday, January 27, 2012

200 Stitches: Chain Stitches

#9 Chain Stitch

I was familiar with this one since it's also one of the first basic stitches you learn. I loved the look of the chain stitch with a whip stitch (middle) and also the back stitch running through it (bottom) especially with the color combination I chose.

#10 Open Chain Stitch

#10 was kind of a pain but I do like the like of it. In real life the side stitches look like they are a different color than the rungs of the ladder. This one will need some more experimenting to discover the right combination of thread count and spacing.

#11 Heavy Chain Stitch

#11 will also need to be visited. In the book photo it has this beautiful feather quality that I couldn't get on my first try here. Afterwards I did a quick google search and found better instructions which immediately made this stitch make more sense so next time shouldn't be as much of a fail.

Monday, January 23, 2012

200 Stitches: Perkinese Stitch

I have never used this stitch or really seen it before but I love it. It'll take a bit more practice to get this down but this is another one I'm marking for further practice. It would be great for a nice border around something. Or some sort of nautical themed embroidery.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Introducing: Minature Embroideries

The necklaces! They're finally completed! They are up for sale at my new shop Sister Dee's This and That. So please go ahead and check them out. 

I attached the last couple hooks Saturday after we dug ourselves out of the snowstorm. Then I photographed and edited like crazy today. There are 4 brooches and 15 necklaces in total. The embroideries are 18 x13mm at the smallest and 18 x25mm at the largest. Probably the smallest I have ever embroidered. I also stuck with my trusty felt for backgrounds. All of the jewelry findings are made in the USA, specifically in New England by various artisans (you can find out more at I liked the look of the antiqued black brass for my embroideries and loved that everything was made by small businesses as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

200 Stitches: Split Stitch

Please excuse the poor photo. The sun hasn't been out much around here. This is another stitch I know pretty well but normally only stick with one color thread so I didn't pay much mind to the note about only using soft, untwisted thread. You absolutely need untwisted thread for this one. And no matter how hard you try you cannot correct this during the process. Please heed my words. Abandon twisted thread, all ye who embroider.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day after the SOPA/PIPA Blackout

Good job, Internet! From my last check on this support in Congress for SOPA/PIPA has gone from 80/30 (officially for/against) to 65/102.
You can keep up to date here:

Also, I think the sign this woman is holding sums up why not only Congress needs to read these bills but we do too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In case you haven't heard of these bills please take a moment of your day to check out the following links for more information. There is also a wealth of articles and whatnot elsewhere out there, since the consequences of these bills (or similar ones that will most likely come) are pretty substantial. Depending on where you go on the internet you've already seen the effects of the protest/awareness campaign for the day, but just in case:

200 Stitches: Stem Stitch

Ah, the stem stitch. This one is a favorite of mine for curved lines.

Monday, January 16, 2012

embroidering in 1

Doing some more mini embroideries. These have been a bit harder since they're a good deal smaller than the initial necklaces I made for Christmas. Hopefully I"ll have the finished products ready to show by the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

200 Sitches: The Back Stitch and Variations

I remember doing these stitches a lot when I was first starting out. I had forgotten how much fun they are to do. Heck I even remember the exact spot I learned this. It was in the apartment of a woman named Dot.
I wanted to learn embroidery but my Fibers professor didn't teach a full course so she set me up to do independent study for a semester. I went to Joann's and bought the cheapest book I could find with the best pictures to learn from. It looked like one of those old workbooks you would get in elementary school that taught math via coloring shapes and doing mazes. That book was so worth it. Heck I still have it and recommend it to anyone who wants a good instructional book. The diagrams were clear and comprehensive and taught you as if you had no clue what you were doing, but didn't make you feel like a dick for being that way. I only ever completed one of the projects but I had about half a yard of fabric where I would practice the stitches over and over again. I was in love.

One of my jobs in college was working as a home aide for the elderly. I would visit their homes after I was done with classes. I would make them meals, bathe them, help them with laundry. Anything that would make it easier for them to stay in their own home and be as independent as possible. Plus I would be there for company, I think this was the thing they enjoyed the most and that helped them the most. Also, I had a blast hanging out with the ladies (I never once took care of a man, everyone was a widow except one awesome lady who was proud to say she was an old maid). They loved seeing whatever fibers project I would bring and showing me some of their work as well. One woman cross-stitched her family from photographs. It was pretty impressive, especially the charts she would make for them. Even more so given the crippling arthritis in both hands.

I started learning embroidery when I was working at Dot's apartment. She was a former teacher and, like several other ladies I worked for, went to school at my old college. Back when it was still a teaching school. She used to tell stories of how she would hitchhike from her town that was about 30 minutes away if she missed the train. Dot was sadly suffering from Alzheimer's at this time. She was at the stage where she could sometimes remember the present but spent more time talking about the past. When we would take walks through her building she would talk about her childhood in vivid detail and mention things like how she hated wreathes on doors because when she was young the only time you put a wreath up (which always had a black ribbon) was to indicate that someone in the household had died. She also had the worst case of sundowning I had ever seen. At some point in the evening after the agitation and pacing had gone down she would mistake me for an old college roommate where she would ask me questions about my "current beau". This then led to a  freak out that we had a big test coming up that we needed to study for. After a few shifts I realized one thing that seemed to help her was actually studying for the test that was coming up. Her favorite subject was art history. After I found this out I always made a note to bring my art history books for her to look through and honestly, she was pretty good at quizzing me on paintings. If she had a particularly rough evening she tended to be in bed by 8pm. My shifts didn't end until 11 so I had 3 hours to kill before the next aide arrived.

The early bedtimes happened at a lot of the houses I worked at. There's only so much light housekeeping you can do when someone is sleeping but you still need to be there if they get out of bed (or fall out of bed, which happened upon occasion and good lord is that ever a terrifying experience). This downtime led to me being able to work sometimes 24-30 hours a week while being a full-time student. So hey, if you're in college and like old people might I recommend becoming a home health aide?

Monday, January 09, 2012

200 Sitches: The Darning Stitch and Variations

First off, the note included with this stitch was that it's "very easy to work on evenweave fabric" which is what all of the stitches in this book are worked on. I gotta say, I think I'd only be able to work this on evenweave which is also why the recommended use is as a filling stitch for blackwork. I had thought about doing all of these on the same fabric but decided against it. I usually work all of my embroidery on plainweaves since I'm normally doing freestyle embroidery (word.) This is just a fancy way of saying I embroider focusing more on the design and use the fabric as a background instead of counting threads in the fabric.

So all of this to say that this stitch, as you can obviously see, failed. I thought about redoing it or trying an even weave fabric to try again but I think from this point on I'll just make a note to come back to certain stitches. The point of this exercise is for me to break out of the habit of using only a few stitches so I'm more focused on just trying them at this point instead of perfecting every single one. I think this will also help me to not get sidetracked from the main goal.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

200 Stitches: the Beginning

I was inspired by the blog the Big B to attempt to learn (or relearn) 200 stitches this year. I tend to use the same stitches over and over again and I need to stop that. I figured the best way to combat this is to crack open my stitch bible that I've had for about 5 years and go through it cover to cover. It's also a prime time to use up extra fabric in my stash and all of the left over embroidery floss I have kicking around.

First stitch was the "running stitch and variations". I need to break out the ruler since my eyesight is too poor and my apartment too dim to count threads in the fabric. Next up, the Holbein stitch! EMBROIDER FTW!

Already this exercise makes me want to finally dive into getting an embroidery hoop stand. Mainly so I can look like Madame de Pompadour in her lesser role as royal embroiderer.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The New Year

First off,  my New Year so far has involved loads of MBMBAM. Go click on that link to hear a sampling of the show. And then head on over to Maximum Fun to bask in the wonders of podcasts.
Alright. So this here blog. It is 2012 and many things are afoot in the world of Cleo Dee's. Although really things started changing it up in early 2011. Perhaps I'll get into that at a later date but right now I"ll be vague and mysterious (read: I don't feel like typing all of it out at this time.) From now on there will be a little less plush and squid and more embroidery, fiber projects, sketching and wacom tablet and After Effects learning. Only the first two will be seen on this blog for a long time. Hopefully by the end of 2012 I'll have something to show in the other departments. But for now I'll leave you with the promise of being back tomorrow with the first installment of the newness. I hope you stick around. I"ll try my best to impress you short of balancing on a ball. I am shit at balancing.