Wednesday, December 22, 2010


, originally uploaded by alicen.

I may have spent way too much time looking at books about hippie textile art. I own quite a few of them, including this one. Applique is easy and fun!

Plans for this thing involve a bunch of quilting and then binding and everything. I think it's ultimately destined to be a wall hanging of some sort.

Quilt beginnings

, originally uploaded by alicen.

Apologies for the crappy pictures. This is the beginnings of a wall hanging. More pictures to follow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another notebook page

, originally uploaded by alicen.

Something I drew in the bar last night

, originally uploaded by alicen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 14

, originally uploaded by alicen.

I started some new wrist warmers. This newish yarn store, which is mere blocks from my house, is on my walk home. And open in the evenings. It's dangerous.

Day 13?

, originally uploaded by alicen.

An extremely janky handmade holiday card.

Night Market build photos

More pictures of what I was up to from approximately the 10th-12th.

The throne-chair for the back of the truck.

Eden painting on the door with the clock next to her. Note the crazy-colored table legs etc.

Loading the truck. Everything had to be pretty thoroughly strapped down to prevent disaster on the extremely bumpy section of 880 North through southern Oakland.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lost Horizon Night Market SF

This is what I've been doing the past several days. We built a mad tea party in a 24' box truck, and smashed a LOT of dishes. Here is the after shot.

(Props to Neil Girling for taking the excellent picture above; the linked picture is from (I think) Jonathan Ross.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Days 7-9

, originally uploaded by alicen.

Day 7 we spent the evening checking out a badass art gallery/live-work warehouse space we were maybe going to move into. But I forgot to take pictures. We've decided not to move because it lacked windows and a kitchen, but it was totally a creative and worthwhile thing to look into. I remain convinced that there are better spaces out there.

Day 8 sort of got eaten up by rain, commute and rock climbing. So no picture there either.

This picture is for day 9, and was taken last night at NIMBY while working on the project I can't yet talk about. Hopefully I'll have pictures of that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Craft-a-whatever day 6

, originally uploaded by alicen.

Last night's project was filling out Christmas cards. It will be this night's as well, most likely. But I'll try to come up with a different picture.

And yes, I didn't make my own. I'm lazy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Craft-a-day December Day 5

DSCN1347, originally uploaded by alicen.

I am totally putting this up on the correct day! I made these for Tom a couple of weeks ago. A matching hat is planned.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Craft-a-day December Day 4

, originally uploaded by alicen.

I'm making this scarf yet again. Almost done!

Craft-a-day December Day 3

IMG_0269, originally uploaded by alicen.

This is a vest I designed for Tom a while ago. I've got it partway made and hanging in our bedroom.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Craft-a-day December Day 2

DSCN1345, originally uploaded by alicen.

Day 2 is boxers. When Tom gets sucked into going to fabric stores with me, he sometimes finds fabric he likes. Which is eventually turned into underwear. I was home sick today so I finally finished these.

Craft-a-day December Day 1

IMG_0324, originally uploaded by alicen.

I know lots of people who are trying to draw something every day of December. Since I'm trying to make Christmas gifts, I'd rather devote the energy to making things instead. So I'll try to post something I'm making every day until I leave for the holidays. Of course, I'm starting off a day late.

This is for December 1. It's a hat I made for my aunt as a Christmas present. Apologies for the terrible photo - I mailed the hat back from Boston after Thanksgiving, so I can't take another at the moment.

Friday, October 29, 2010


IMG_0262, originally uploaded by alicen.

My old purple wristwarmers have started to fray, and I decided it was just as much work to pick them out an re-knit them as to make new ones. And I was in Arizona with family and forgot to bring any kind of project to keep me out of trouble. Fortunately they have yarn stores there.

These are electric pink and match my hair. They're finished now and I've been wearing them, but this is the picture I got around to uploading. No pattern, just made it up. They have separate thumbs but no fingers, and are ribbed all over.

I made them as small as they could possibly be and still fit me. Unlike the last pair, Tom can't steal these.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This fortnight in my brain?

* It rained this weekend. It was glorious. Tromping around in it brought back all the best parts of Seattle.

* Yesterday I went on the SF Tweed Ride. I am not one to pass up gratuitous costuming opportunities. I learned that 1. I should totally wear knickers more often and 2. I don't ride my bike enough. I've resolved to make more use of it in the future.

* Someone smashed the window on our car and took a couple of CDs. Annoying.

* Saturday was the big NIMBY party. NIMBY is the warehouse where we build Syzygryd. I worked crew for 2πr and generally made sure people did not light themselves on fire. This was excellent, though cold.

* I don't have many pictures to add to this post. I would like to start carrying a camera more regularly again, or get better about taking and uploading pictures with my phone. Not sure what the solution should be there. I don't spend much time with my personal laptop these days, so photos tend to languish. I still have a major backlog of un-photographed projects.

* About a week ago I spent an hour taking all the clothing I don't wear very often and putting it in a box. I have yet to really notice the difference, so I probably wasn't aggressive enough. Ideally I'd have a small and carefully curated wardrobe of totally awesome things that changed pretty frequently. Something to work towards.

* I've had a number of houseguests recently that haven't gotten mentioned here. I haven't been able to hang out as much as I'd like due to other commitments, but it's been good to see people. It's been a very social Fall.

* Fall means more homey comfort food. In particular, squash. Time to make bright orange soup!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tweed ride!

On Sunday I plan to ride in this. I spent last night hacking horrible womens' suit pants from the 80s into something resembling knickers, and have a bad-ass vest from a thrift store. But no pictures of them. If I manage to acquire fabric early enough I want to make something along the lines of this vest:

It wouldn't look exactly like that, of course, and would probably be grey. But it would be long, made of tweed, and have tails. And there would be some kind of bad-ass pocket system going on. Unfortunately I can't photograph my sketches well at work, so that'll have to wait.

Last night was relaxing - quiet sushi with a friend, and then making things at home. Good for getting my head together, even if the apartment is beastly hot. I must do more of this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Needle felted dinosaur

Needle felted dino, originally uploaded by alicen.

I made this ages ago to experiment with needle felting. I'm mostly interested in the technique as a way to add design and texture to wool garments (because seriously how many little decorative objects can anyone actually own?), but this guy was fun to make. The repeated stabbing motions are quite cathartic. I did break a disturbing number of needles, but that's probably just amateur technique.

This post brought to you by my desire to actually have pictures of things I made on this blog...

This Week in My Brain

*I finally uploaded pictures from Burning Man! This one is my favorite:
The rest can be found here. I edited them heavily for half-decent photography, so there aren't many.

*A couple people have linked me to various high quality electronics cases recently. I'm thinking of attempting my own variation on the bookbinding based one at some point. I certainly have plenty of electronics rattling around.

*I've been fascinated with nomad furniture for a while. I bought this book last time I was in Portland, and there are several relevant things on Instructables. The idea is that if you're in the young, urban, semi-itinerant class (like everyone I know) you don't want to acquire lots of large stuff that's difficult to move. Furthermore, you want furniture that disassembles and is easily reconfigurable in different spaces. This has definitely been informing the sorts of things I'm thinking about building for our space, even if I haven't actually gotten around to too many of them.

Another interesting variation is gridbeam, which appears to have a community as well as various projects floating around the web. I don't actually like the look that much, but I appreciate the sentiment.

*Nature! My mom was in town, and we went up to Yosemite for a day and a night and went for a short-but-steep hike. Tom gets extremely happy when out in the woods.
We need to do this more often.

*I spent about an hour last night talking to Jason (yes he's alive!) which was great. It's really nice to have exes that play a positive role in my life. Yay for being grownups I guess? We talked a bit about that, as well as swapping trashy fantasy recommendations. And promised to send each other various media we were recommending. We'll both be in Boston for Thanksgiving (along with many other people I guess?) which will be excellent.

*In my continuing saga of being sort of bored with my clothes, I've also been looking at kinderwhore fashion. Apparently grunge is coming back? I've been listening to riot grrl music again lately as well, so I guess it's topical.

*This podcast. I am a sucker for economic storytelling? Blame my father.

*Thinking about taking more classes at the Crucible. Do I have time? Who knows. I'm thinking maybe welding and a class on jewelry techniques.

*I know I've linked to this before, but I'm having yet another bout of fascination with Alabama Chanin. I've made a shirt, dress, headband and hoodie in this technique, and have cut out the pieces for another dress and tanktop. I've been wearing the first dress constantly. I found the flickr pool for people who've made projects from her books (though apparently there are only about three people who've posted pictures). One of my favorites is here:
detail - Alabama Chanin inspired scarf
I'll try to post later with pictures of the stuff I've made and more details. I picked up these on Sunday for a crazy patchwork dress:
Rainbow of t-shirts
I could happily just wear clothing made this way. It would be seriously labor intensive though.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This week in my brain

*Manic pixie dream girls. See also this. I have totally been guilty of this in the past, though I quickly turn out to be too emotionally complicated to perpetuate the illusion. Here is one analysis of why it's so damn irritating. Of course, whether someone comes across as "interesting" or "exotic" is completely subjective.

*This ties into thoughts I've been having about makers and gender and how most creative activities seem to be somehow gendered based on historical trends. Furthermore, the associated internet communities are pretty uniformly segregated along gender lines. You can even tell by the colors. Observe:

Man communities: Make Projects, Instructables

Girly communities: Craftster, this LilyPad/soft circuit community

Edited to add: I'm being a bit fair to Instructables here, as it's really the best of the bunch (and the original mitigating comment I'd put in seems to have been deleted when I added the HTML. bugger). A better example might be the project pages on popular mechanics or one of those sorts of things. But this does tie into a larger rant about how the SF bay area maker communities that think they're all egalitarian and stuff are still sometimes really guilty of egregious stereotyping that NO ONE THINKS IS GOING ON. And man does it bother me.

Also of interest is the phenomenon whereby soft circuit projects seem to be almost exclusively by women and kids. Not that there aren't guys that do this, but rather that they don't self-label the same way. Really this all deserves its own post.

* I still owe the internet pictures of everything for the last several months. They're coming.

*Morley played this for me. It's now stuck in my head.

* I've started reading several blogs about San Francisco and the Mission. I feel much more invested in the place when I know more about what's going on. I'll be a lot more informed about local politics this November than the last time I voted here. Which is definitely a good thing.

* Apparently H. R. Giger was involved in the production design for a never-released version of Dune. Interesting, though the sketches are too small.

* Deep wedding planning ambivalence. Tom and I had a discussion the other day that pretty much amounted to "the more I find out about weddings the less I want to have one". It does not help that we know lots of couples having various relationship drama around their weddings. Lots of perfectly happy people too, but definitely a couple of cautionary tales.

* Maybe we will go see Wagner's Ring Cycle next summer?

* My life needs more dadaism.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Week in My Brain

1. I've been really, really busy. Like, multiple commitments every night since Burning Man busy. Mostly, this is good. But it needs to stop soon. The bedroom (which I haven't spent any time in in about three weeks) is getting disastrous, and I'll have to finish unpacking some day.

2. A while ago, I mentioned to my father that I was interested in Vietnam-era folk music and protest songs. Last week, on my birthday, a box showed up containing a number of CDs. Tom and I brought it along when we drove to Yosemite last weekend. So now my head is full of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, , Judy Collins, and so on.

I've had the Draft Dodger Rag stuck in my head for days

And was reminded of this, which my dad sung to me as a lullaby:

3. This summer was a big stretch of time with no nature in it. Then I went and played on the playa, then Yosemite, and now Sedona, which looks like this (thanks, random flickr user!).

4. It's impossible to do something like Syzygryd and not be possessed by the urge to Keep Making. So far this has mostly meant food (delicious tabouleh ), but I have grand plans. For my birthday (and after I talked his ear off with ideas) Tom got me some conductive thread and circuit components to play with. I am plotting and spending too much time trolling the internet for ideas. I have many links and pictures and things, but I'm too tired to dig them up right now.

5. I need to rethink my Personal Fashion Concept. Part of me wishes we could all dress like this:

but really no one can wear that much lycra. Good for inspiration, I supposed. Before leaving for the playa I acquired a number of books on pattern drafting and a dress form (which I'd been lusting after for YEARS). Time to MAKE THINGS.

6. Speaking of Things, it is time to own less of them. Or get a storage unit. Our apartment has a serious lack of closets, and we have a serious amount of burning man gear. We can get rid of things to a point, but more than half of what I own is either books or raw materials for something or other. And you can't take either one away from me.

Coming up:
Burning Man Pictures!
What I Am Doing With My Life!
Moving (Eventually)!
And Much Much More!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The man, the moon, a syzygryd

This has been my project for the past couple of months. Along with 60+ other people (many of whom are crazy hardcore!), I wrote software, drilled, countersunk, soldered, sawed, lifted and soldered some more. I bounced up and down for a looong time when I first saw it up and running. Holy shit guys, it is such an amazing feeling.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Makeshift Project

Tonight I've been poking at the archives of this blog. The author is at the tail end of a year-long project where she makes everything she wears, including footwear and so on.

I'm fascinated, both by the concept and by her style. I haven't had a very coherent idea of what I want to look like recently, and this sort of speaks to that part of my brain. Possibly when I get back from Burning Man I will pack up half my wardrobe and concentrate on embellishing/modifying/remaking the remaining items.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Finished vest pics

A while ago I posted progress pics of a vest I was making for Tom. Here is the finished vest:



It's off at Burning Man now (I'll join on Sunday). It'll probably get more decoration over time, whenever I get around to it.


Photo on 2010-08-25 at 10.57, originally uploaded by alicen.

Holding out with the natural hair color...hasn't lasted. But it's long enough now that most of my reasons for not dyeing it are gone. We'll see if I cave and do the rest.

Monday, August 2, 2010

This is what the sequins were for.

DSCN1143, originally uploaded by alicen.

Peter, the night before his wedding. The dress is what the sequins from the last post were for. I will never stop finding stray sequins in my carpet. Never.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


sequins!, originally uploaded by alicen.

Sneak preview of something coming up next week...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corset shirt thing

DSCN0945, originally uploaded by alicen.

Another project from this book. Totally hand sewn, mostly while riding the bus to and from work. Looks better when actually being worn, but photographing myself is HARD.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kai's Quilt (with mushrooms)

DSCN1016, originally uploaded by alicen.

I can finally post this, since I did manage to get it over to Jess and Colin a couple weeks ago. The quilt is for Kai, their son, who was born just over a week ago. Jess and Colin are pretty much my first friends to have a kid, so they get get the benefit of my not being sick of making baby gifts (I am told this will kick in at some point). I decided to make the quilt only a few weeks before he was due. I was pretty psyched to actually finish it before he arrived on the scene.

It didn't actually take me all that much time to make, all things considered. The quilting is done by hand, which too most of the total time. But I did that on the bus to work, which worked out pretty well.

Friday, June 25, 2010


So, I don't have an engagement ring. I never actually wanted one (they seem silly when you're getting a wedding ring, and the symbolism is weird), but we did decide there should be something. So now I am wearing this:

Alice engagement necklace

And Tom will have this as soon as he gets back from China:

Tom engagement necklace

They are from here. If you can't tell, one of the rings is silver and the other is gold on each necklace. We are digging the simplicity, though our wedding rings will probably be fancier (or at least sturdier). When we get there.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


So a week ago (June 13th), Tom and I went to Oakland to pick up our car, stopped by our friends' house to drop off their babywarming present, and then headed to east to "find some nature". We wound up at Mt. Diablo State Park.

We hiked around and bit and wound up talking about the whole Engagement Thing (an ongoing discussion over the past couple months) and decided to get married! Here we are:


(Yup. Marrying that guy. We tried taking serious pictures too, but screw that.)

Afterwards, we took pictures of one another making dinosaur faces to celebrate.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


IMG_0061, originally uploaded by alicen.

I went to Maker Faire last weekend and picked up, among other things, a bag of assorted hand dyed fleece. This necessitated my learning to card the wool. (Thanks to Jess for letting me use the carders!) I will probably spin it into bizarrely variegated yarn for socks or something. Hopefully I'll get a better picture of the next step.

Things I've made but haven't blogged: Various hand-sewn clothing, progress on a couple of quilts, various repairs and upgrades (replacing buttons, etc.), experiments with letterpress, yarn purchases, and more.

Monday, May 10, 2010


DSCN0938, originally uploaded by alicen.

I've been messing around with things from this book recently, and this is one byproduct. I've been really enjoying the process of creating lately, of watching elaborate designs emerge from little bits and pieces. I'm also fascinated by the idea of owning lots of carefully complex things. This isn't fancy, exactly, but it contains far more attention to detail than most things in my home.

Oh, and one more picture.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

instant window seat

DSCN0913, originally uploaded by alicen.

Tom and I made this two nights ago in about twenty minutes. Ingredients:

1 defunct coffee table found on the street
2 dead computers
wood scraps
a couple magazines
circular saw

We removed the legs from the table (they were too short and really wobbly) and then removed the molding from the back of the table. Then we put it on top of the computers. We cut the wood scraps to size to even out the height of the computers, and jammed them in.

The computers are heavy, so it's quite stable. Long term plans involve storing things underneath and getting or making pillows to fit the space. The light in that window is great, so I think it'll get lots of use.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Circus vest!

Tom found this picture:

And so I made this:



It still needs edging and probably some decoration (all the stitching that's visible now is actually structural).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Card Weaving

DSCN0853, originally uploaded by alicen.

Only a couple of years after Laura sent me a book on the subject, I got around to doing a test card weaving project.

Card weaving is a way of weaving without a fixed loom. You have a series of cards with holes in them. Different color thread is threaded through each hole, and the cards are twisted to put different combinations on top. There's a pretty good explanation here.

It's a very old idea and can be done with all sorts of materials. I used cotton thread purchased for something like $1/ball. My strap (which is 4 or 5 feet long) is a simple diamond pattern, but you can quickly get much more complicated.

The process is surprisingly fast - this only took me an hour or so to set up and weave. I'm not sure how much call there actually is in my life for narrow bands of fabric (and the width of these things is sort of naturally limited by the nature of the weaving process), but it's definitely something I'll do again.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Knitting, quilting and so forth

Tom went to China for two weeks for work. It rained pretty much the whole time, so I spent a lot of quiet time making things (and watching the fourth season of Heroes). I finished off a number of ongoing projects. First of all, the socks I started at my cousin's wedding last March:


These went through several knit and then rip out iterations before the final form took shape. Then they sat on my bedside table for three months with an inch left to go on the final sock.

I also finished off the leg warmers from the flight back from Istanbul. They are part of my strategy to wrap all my extremities in tubes of wool. Very versatile.


There was also quilting - hexagon experiments. I did the actual piecework for this one three years ago, but didn't know what to do with it until recently. Hopefully my mother doesn't read this; it's for her.


This one is all new. It may be a Settlers of Catan board in disguise.


It's approximately 18" by 24". I did the quilting by hand on the bus to and from work. It was very relaxing. I've convinced myself that I can competently piece hexagons, so a big quilt (with rather larger pieces, for the sake of sanity) may be up next. The piecing didn't actually take that long, but I really sort of hate machine quilting, and doing a bed-size quilt by hand is out of the question (just not portable enough).

I also added ribbing and shaping and so on to this t-shirt (it was boring before).


And here's a belated picture of Tom's Christmas present


It's on a hooded sweatshirt, which he's wearing here


This went over very, very well.