When I was in my formative pre-teen years, I found a box in my mother’s home full of cross-stitched designs. I was fascinated by the delicate squares that made up a larger image. Oh, the patience it must have required! I asked my mom to teach me how to do this and it turns out, I wasn’t the best at it. Despite the fact that the technique basically requires you to create a bunch of simple squares - I wasn’t quite precise enough to create perfect work. Maybe it was my stubby fingers or my dwarf thumb. (Yes, there is a medical term and then the term that the doctor’s use so you’ll actually remember it. And it’s dwarfed fingers. Except in my case, it’s only my thumbs.) I know, weird.) I got slightly better over time, but by my teenage years, I lost interest.
Soon after, I started noticing that all the delicate little patterns on napkins and pillows in my Grandma Giorgi’s house were utilizing this same crafty technique. And in a moment of true geek “aha-ery” I made the connection between these lovely combination of square threads and the square dudes I manipulated on my television screen through my Nintendo. They were cousins! One in the tactile world and the other in the digital.
Life moves on and you forget these things. Crafty techniques like cross stitching go in and out of style and certain generations will never pick up on the skill at all. That’s kind of a shame. Especially for the geeky youngins’, because cross-stitching is basically 8-bit art via a needle and thread.
I’ve never been more aware of this then when my friend Ranja took an 8-bit portrait of me and made a version of it with cross stitch. My brother was supremely jealous. And I’m serious about that.
If you’ve never done it before, I promise it’s not THAT hard. It takes some time to perfect your technique, but if you can pull thread through holes, you can do it. And let me tell you, it’s the perfect couch craft. Turn on your favorite show, marathon and cross stitch. It’s crafting bliss.
Want to give it a try? I’ll turn your attention to some online 8 bit/cross stitch geekery available on the interwebs.
You can always find things on Etsy. Case in point? Pixel Power Design offers an IT Crowd pattern for $5 and the Game of Thrones characters for $8. I should also note that they are currently offering 3 patterns for $10 as part of some kind of awesome sale.
Don’t want to spend money until you’ve given it a try? Well, Pixel Power offers free patterns every week on their Facebook page. Here’s the offerings for this week:
Friends, lest you think I’m full of crap, I’ve decided to try this craft again myself. I’m searching for something in the vein of 221B for a pillow that will inhabit my redesigned bedroom. (which is still underway…) Off to Google.
It’s well documented: I’m a bit of a crafter. Whether it’s the DIYs I do for the site or the projects I do for fun and relaxation, I need a spot where I can craft for days and stretch my arms. (And legs… read on!)
For years, I crafted on my dining room table and it was a terrible, terrible idea, because now the table is covered in paint splatters and there are dings in the wood. Eventually, lesson learned.
I also realized that I spend way too much of my life sitting. So I thought:
Why not have a standing work space for crafting?
Ah, I love when there is a symbiosis in practicality and purpose.
So I bought the IKEA Utby, put a dark piece of wood on it and never looked back.
Right now, the table resides in my kitchen, where I get lots of light and I can also use the countertop for dinner parties and prep work.
And then there’s the products that I love, love, love.
The stool is nice for when I just don’t want to stand anymore. It’s from West Elm and it’s a perfect solution for multi-purpose people like me. I can use it at the buffet by twirling it up 6 inches or I can use it at the Utby.
And those pencils. Right? I can’t for the life of me remember where I got them, but I think they are adorable.
The fabric below is a recent find from Crafty Planet, a local craft store in Minneapolis, which you really must check out if you’re ever in town.
The curtains are a soft gray and let in a lot of light, even when they’re closed, which made taking photos of this space more than a little difficult. They are called “Henna panels” and they’re from Target.
So tell me friends, where do you craft?
I want to thank everyone who nominated Lady Geeks for this Tuesday feature. I received a ton of nominations and I’m really looking forward to working through all of them.
First up is Tara Theoharis of the awesome blog, The Geeky Hostess.
The Geeky Hostess is the place to go if you are planning a party and want to get tips on how to find the best recipes, cocktails and decor. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun.
You’ll also love Tara’s blog for her contests and give aways. She seems to get the best sponsors. For example, her Knit for Nerds contest could win you a book with 30 knitting projects with a geek culture angle. Check out the give away and enter here.
Portal lovers will appreciate this awesome video recipe for cake shots, complete with orange and blue rims. Super delicious!
Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter @GeekyHostess to keep up with all the geeky party ideas.
We are happy to introduce our first sponsor today - Gamer Greetings! Gamer Greetings is a small Minneapolis-based company that specializes in greeting cards that belong in the hand of your gaming nerd friends.
The cards retail for $2.49 each plus $.99 for shipping on their Etsy store, but for a limited time, you can buy as many of the greeting cards as you like and get free shipping thanks to their coupon code just for BGC readers: GEEKCHIC.
Gamer Greetings is also giving us a 3 sets of their 2-pack card collection to give to the first 3 people to comment on this article AND become a fan of BGC on Facebook. So what are you waiting for?
Thanks to Gamer Greetings for becoming one of our supporters!
Know a geek-friendly company that wants to be a sponsor of BGC, learn more about that here.
I’m addicted to a cheap and simple DIY project. It seems that Kate Petty’s blog Mini Eco always has my fix. And it’s always so darn happy too.
Mini Eco features a wide range of fantastic, kid-friendly DIY ideas that feature color, color and more color. So whether its a PacMan Halloween garland, paper gems or Space Invader paper weaving project - you can be assured it’s beautifully done, eco-friendly, totally affordable and easy for the kids too (if you have those… if you don’t then, be assured that it’s easy for the crafting newbies… almost the same thing!).
If you like your DIY projects in book form, you can pre-order Petty’s new book, Eco-friendly Craft Projects on Amazon now or wait until it comes out in April.
Of course, yesterday was Valentine’s Day… so if you’re hard up for a card next year… Bookmoark this one for the people you love. Petty’s fantastic printable pixelated or 8-bit valentine.
And I would be totally neglecting Petty’s awesome Pinterest if I didn’t plug that too. Check that out here.
I’m working on several videos right now, so no DIY Weekend video until I wrap those up. I thought it might be useful to share some of the ways that I save money on my various crafting supplies.
1. Apps: Many of the national craft shop retailers now have apps for their stores. Much of the features on most of these apps are absolutely useless, but nearly all of them also have a coupons section. My favorite one is Michaels, because they almost ALWAYS have a 40% off a regular price item coupon. You should also download JoAnn Stores App too. The coupons aren’t *quite* as good, but it’s better than nothing.
2. eBay: While many people I know use eBay to buy things like designer clothes and vintage goods, I’ve actually had a ton of luck with things like patterns, fabric quarters and vintage buttons. It’s not as useful is you’re looking for something very specific, but searching “green dots fabric” turns up a lot of great options at reasonable prices.
3. Cash back sites: I’m mildly obsessed with cash back site like Mr. Rebates. The basic premise is that you can get a certain percentage of cash back on all the purchases you are already making online while you shop. Plus, most stores will let you take advantage of cash back even when you are using a coupon code. In 2011 alone, I got $199 back. Here’s some common crafting supply sites I get cash back for:
Dick Blick Art Stores (6%)
JoAnn Fabrics (6%)
Utrecht Art Supply (4%)
Plus, if you refer friends, you get a 20% referral bonus on all their rebates. Sign up for that here.
Any one else have some good tricks for saving cash on crafting supplies?