Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Magic Overnight Sausages (vegan)

So, how have you been spending your quarantine time? Safe and well, I hope! I've done a little of this, a little of that. One thing I've done is make seitan about once a week. I started out making meatballs, but the subsequent batches never turned out as good as the first batch, so I switched gears and began experimenting with different cook methods and went the sausage route.

If you're not familiar with seitan, it's a meat substitute that was invented by monks hundreds of years ago and became popular in the US on the West Coast in the 1970s. It sort of faded away for a bit except in those small clusters of off-grid vegans. Now we have so many store-bought meat substitutes (many of which are actually seitan), that homemade seitan seems to only show up in the kitchens of YouTubers looking for a new angle and in the kitchens of plant-based cooks who enjoy a real challenge.

What is seitan exactly? Seitan takes the gluten from the flour (Who just experienced a full-body shock and horror?), which is the elastic, stretchy part of dough, and turns it into essentially a dense and chewy bread that you've flavored with typical meat-dish flavorings. It is extremely versatile and the texture itself can be altered just with what you mix in with the flour.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Monarch Caterpillar Pattern Release!

It's here! It's here! I've been trying to find the time for more than a year to get this pattern put together and into testing and finally it is done!

And this pattern is a whopper! 19 pages of all the good stuff I have learned from making so many of these in the last year or so! Number one accomplishment for me was finally landing on a jogless stripe method that was both easy to do and easy to explain. I have included that in this pattern along with many other tips on keeping your stripes super neat. This caterpillar is all about those stripes, so we want those to be as perfect as possible!

I had a bit of a mixed bag with testers this time. Luckily 5 of my testers were dedicated and scrupulous and I appreciate the heck out of them. The other testers were a no-show. It reminded me why I quit doing patterns. Not sure I will do more at this point. To be perfectly honest it is going to depend on how well this one sells. It's not worth my time or the headache if everyone asks for a pattern that they never actually buy. I could have made and sold minimum of 4 caterpillars during the time it took me to write and edit this pattern. I need to sell at least 75 copies to break even. It just doesn't work out like you hope it will.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Polyura sempronius

Polyura sempronius, or Tailed Emporer, was an order I was looking forward to! He's an Australian caterpillar (and a lovely black and white butterfly) that seems  to have a lot of variation from one instar to another. I was not able to find a whole lot of information about them, other than their host plant (wattles) and that their early instar looks like somebody made him out of sour gummy worm pieces. 

I began with the back piece, as usual, keeping it pretty simple and adding some surface stitching. I relied heavily on two photos- one that the customer chose as a favorite look and another that showed the full-body of the caterpillar. I took some creative license with the little side spikes and with the headpiece as well. The only difficult part of this pattern was attaching the headpiece to the caterpillar neck. It required some free-form crochet to make the 2 pieces fit. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Changes for 2020

It's been a really great two years with my work getting lots of attention and meeting a lot of fellow bug-lovers, but I have made the decision to not take any custom orders in 2020. I have several reason for this, including missing writing patterns and having many projects I have not been able to finish (such as the patchwork puppy project) but the main reason that I am making changes is because, honestly, I have made myself rather ill  trying to keep up with all of the orders.  I am able to work fewer hours a day now and am falling further behind at a time of year when I should be getting even more than usual accomplished. I am so grateful for the work, but it has built up to a pace that I just can't keep up with. I need to gear down and feel like an artist again. 

I will continue to take orders through Dec 30, and they will be filled in the order they are received as always (which will take us a bit into 2020 at this point), but after that I will spend my time writing out patterns to some of these caterpillars I really don't want to make anymore (seriously- 20+ of the same thing is enough for me), so you can make them yourself or find somebody else to make it for you.  Mostly, though, I want to work on some one-of-kind insect sculptures and some more exotic caterpillars. I have a long list of things I want to make and it will be wonderful to see what I can achieve when there are no time constraints and no stress over disappointing customers because of a long wait.

I hope that you will still be interested in my work over the coming months. Your encouragement keeps me going. Will I go back to taking custom orders someday? Very possibly, though it will have to be limited. Will my new designs be for sale? Yes. I hope to pop a handful of things into my shop once a month. Please follow my Instagram for any future work and if you have a design of mine you'd really like to see as a pattern, be sure to comment below! 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Best Sandwich Ever and...

... my favorite Easy-Bake Side.

I am completely obsessed with this sandwich lately. I could eat it every day. It's quick and a little junky with just enough healthy components to make you not feel too guilty about it. You could leave off the butter and the cheese and it would be a lot less 'junky', but trust me when I say that the combination is amazing!

This all started because I bought some frozen vegan hamburger patties that, after just one, I decided were gross. They are a brand I usually like, but I had bought the wrong variety by accident. They had some ingredients and a texture that bothered me. I wasn't going to eat the rest of them, but I had these toppings that needed to be eaten. It turned out to be an amazing combination that, with a little tweaking, quickly became my favorite sandwich. The fact that it is super easy really helped it win that title.