Laid & Couched Christmas presents

Chase and I don’t do Christmas, except that we do. For the past couple of years we’ve gone to Anne and Foley’s for Christmas morning and it’s been a joy. Anne is my favourite present monster and it’s always the most pleasurable challenge to make or find her something. Last year I did a 25-day advent calender for her, so I wasn’t sure how to top that. And I gave Foley something way too goofy for her birthday, so I needed to figure out how to balance that. Chase suggested I hand-embroider cowboy shirts for them, which was genius.

I love embroidery and all the different styles and stitches available to use. I’d recently tried laid and couched work for the “pin” detail on a friend’s toddler’s Hobbit cape and knew it’d be the perfect counterpoint to the modern rodeo-cowboy style Western shirts are. I learned laid and couched work by following the stitch-a-long on Opusanglicanum, this post in particular. Time factors meant I’d have to supplement with other stitches, like some of my favourites from Sharon B’s stitch dictionary.

For Foley, I knew I’d need to have a shark. Just one simple shark buddy at the breast, then wave patterns of couched cord to go with the white piping on the shirt. The waves were a right bitch at first, until I figured out a jig with quilting pins to set up my wave shapes.


The finished shark was derpy and darling and I’m quite happy with it, even if I forgot a couple of those fins down by the tail.


Look at this face.



For Anne, I knew I needed to do a Robin Hood, but what? It was actually the Robin Hood theme that really decided the laid and couched work, because it seemed time-period appropriate. I eventually figured out do do old Robin Hood launching an arrow from his deathbed (to be buried where it landed) on the left shoulder, then having that arrow track across the back to the right, where it lands splitting an arrow in a tree next to young Robin Hood. Cyclical nature of myth and all that. I stupidly didn’t get a full finished shot, but I hope to soon.

Old Robin.



New Robin.


I finished it all off with some fancy stitches at the piping on the front and little arrows at the collar points. Which, I also spaced getting pictures of.

I’m super into this old/young Robin Hood imagery and would love to do a full laid and couched piece at some point soon to revisit it. Hopefully, I’ll get some more pictures of Anne’s finished shirt when we go play with LEGO together next week.

Character Drawcember

I’ve been trying to get drawing more, partially because two of three projects slated for 2015 demand I be in the habit again, so the Character Drawcember challenge was just the thing I needed. I used to do this drawing challenge (daily, weekly, given prompts, self-directed) thing on the reg, but that was ages ago, so the slower-paced setup for this challenge was perfect. Three sketches and one final coloured piece a week, with the last days of December to catch up.

And! Even with making ASMR videos, hand embroidering shirts (which I’ll post about soon, I swear), the special hell that is working online retail during the holidays and countless other distractions, I finished. I finished the challenge and didn’t need to use a single catchup day, though I did use the last week to overall catch up after a lull.

The whole point of the Character Drawcember challenge was to give folks a chance to spend some time examining their characters for different projects. I haven’t got that many options shareable right now, so I mostly focused on The Audacity Gambit, which you may note is a written project. Actually, I was sort of a dick about the whole thing, as I’m in the middle of writing the further adventures of those characters, so they’re essentially living in my head, and when I wasn’t drawing them I was drawing snippets from ‘This Time I Know Its For Real’, which you’ll see a little of online in January, ideally. It’s some straight up fuckin’, OC, shit, here.

And then, for the last prompt, I remembered Chase’s and my rejected New World submission, which we’re doing anyway. Could have spent this month fleshing out those characters, which need it a bit more.

But, y’know, just because a character is written doesn’t mean a visual examination of them isn’t super helpful (related, Leia’s breakdown of designing characters is RAD). I’m stoked, I’m amped, I’m drawing again. Hell yes.

Here’s my fave piece from each week. You can see the lot of ’em here.

Week one: colour version of antagonist sketch (Winter Queen from The Audacity Gambit)



Week two: character as a kid, adult and senior (Ian from The Audacity Gambit)



Week three: fake screenshot (This Time I Know It’s For Real)



Week four: I actually loved everything I did for week four’s prompts, but here’s the last one, “your choice” (Hy and her dad, Hyacinth Planted)



In summary: woo drawing again, woo projects.

This is very different from the webcomic I assumed I’d go back to

If you’re unfamiliar with what Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is, Wikipedia does have a great rundown, but in short it’s positive tingly feelings in your scalp (mostly) brought on by aural and visual triggers. Triggers can range from tapping sounds panning ear to ear to slow hand movements. Not everyone has this response, it’s like cilantro. But even folks who don’t have an ASM response to common triggers can find the videos useful for relaxation and getting to sleep.

Common triggers like soft talking, personal attention, repetitive movements and sounds, binaural beats, or the soft splash of water can be just as beneficial for relaxation and mental balance as they can for the singular sensation that is ASMR. I think the number of guided meditation videos available from ASMR creators shows this pretty well.

It starts off sounding sad. Turning to a video of a stranger pretending to give you a scalp massage when you’re feeling down seems like a weird thing, I think, at first. But you have something to turn to, and that is great. And there are caring people out there putting that sort of thing into the world for exactly that purpose. That’s amazing.

I want to put more stuff like that in the world, so I’ve started making ASMR-oriented videos too. I’m sort of focusing on embroidery and handwork based stuff right now, because there isn’t a lot of that and I know that even if it doesn’t cause the “tinglies” it is still practically hypnotic, which is part of what I love about embroidery and handwork.

There’s a lot about sound and editing video that I’m learning, which is awesome. I am, obvs, taking my own advice in mind for publishing on the web and it actually feels awesome to think about doing regular uploading of work again.

So that’s the thing! It is a thing I am doing and I’m kind of stoked on it. Here’s all your links:

  • YouTube Channel – I plan on uploading at least once a week, probs Thursdays.
  • Tumblr – I’ve got this queued up with little gifs and sound generators that are, at the very least, relaxing.
  • Twitter – Because, of course.

I also have a G+, because that comes with the territory of having a GMail, but I do not plan to use it, unless necessary.


It’s almost like I have a teaching background

This will be a little incoherent because I just spent the last hour listening to ASMR while zonked the everloving fuck out, but in short: a friend introduced me to their friend, who wanted advice on web serialisation. They’d encountered The Audacity Gambit and were starting from a place of practically no background in web publishing and wanted advice. I was very flattered. The thing is, I really like explaining stuff.

So. A longish email got long enough I had to open a word document, then I was like “go for the gold, I guess” and just made it a PDF. And then all of you lovely people asked to see it and wow. So. I hope it is useful, though really (like all things in life) it boils down to this: make work, show others your work regularly, keep making work.

This is a link to the PDF

100 Happy Days

I am trying to get my shit together. Habit RPG was helping with that, and is still, but around my birthday various bummers started crawling back the same way I always see things wiggling just at the edge of my vision. I’ve joked before that I wish I had the same kind of depression I did in my early twenties, the kind that came with a single-minded focus and drove me to constantly make things.  There’s a lot of stuff here that I’m not saying, that is boring, but the main thrust is that I decided to try the 100 Happy Days Challenge.

I love challenges. I used to do those monthly focuses, and August art month, and a weekly webcomic. So documenting one happy thing each day seemed like a great way to bully myself into finding the disco glitter lining. The challenge gives you some options for where and how you’re following it, I chose Instagram, which I’ve got IFTTT-hooked to Flicker, where I then sort them into an album (née set, a name change I am still getting used to).

Halfway through the challenge (or more, this is day 61 I’m on now), here are things I’ve learned:

  • Sometimes the happy point of a day is ephemeral and not easily captured via camera phone, so you either take a picture of something and explain the moment in the caption or you look for another happy moment.
  • Sometimes the happy thing is the stupidest thing possible.
  • Sometimes the happy thing is how great you look.
  • It can be easy to fall back on tasty food as your happy thing (for me, at least).
  • You start looking for the high point of your day. “What is going to be the thing that is the best point of this day?”
  • Looking for the happy thing isn’t that bad. Because you’re looking for something that makes you happy.
  • Sometimes you have to actively do something to make yourself happy. This is surprisingly hard.
  • Finding things that make you happy doesn’t make you a happy person, but that is okay.

That said, here are the first fifty days of this.

1-25 25-50


It’s a fun hashtag to browse, by the way. It’s a peek into all these little stupid moments that make other people happy.