Happy Cute Butt Day

happy cute butt day a4 print by Mel Stringer
 According to what I see on Instagram, everyone in Australia is awesome and I need to go there immediately. I'm currently in love with artist Mel Stringer's round ladies.


Call for KIDNEYS! Living donor wanted for crafter Caitlin Holcomb.

 It's almost October, which will mark the 6th anniversary of my kidney donation. For those of you who don't know, I donated a kidney to my mother in 2007. It was an incredible experience, the end result being that my mom is alive, no longer on dialysis, and doing great.

Two years ago, crafter and artist Caitlin Holcomb was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. She's been on dialysis since then, and has been actively looking for a donor during this time as well. Kidneys from living donors have a much greater chance of not being rejected by the body, and the waiting list for non-living donors can take way too long. Dialysis sucks. You have to sit in a sterile room three times a week for hours while hooked up to a creepy machine (that's saving your life, but still, it's weird) that does the work your kidneys are no longer capable of. Her family members have been tested and are not compatible, so she's now trying to find another living donor. Possibly a generous stranger (this is called altruistic or non-directed donation), or a person who wants to donate a kidney to one of their own family members but isn't a match (this is called a "paired exchange," and it's one of the coolest things ever). I'm writing this post to spread the word about Caitlin's need and also to let you know firsthand what it's like to become a living donor. I've only met Caitlin a few times, but she is an amazing artist and person who I'm proud to call my friend.

Sometimes I feel weird sharing my experience as a living donor because it sounds like the world's biggest humblebrag. "Oh, you donated blood? I donated a kidney! Top that, suckers!" But the truth is, I did it, it was awesome, I am and plan to remain in excellent health, and not enough people know what becoming a living donor really entails. So here are a few facts:
  • Mortality rates for kidney donors look to be the same or better than the general population based on current research
  • Living kidney donation has the best track record of all forms of donation
  • Living donor kidneys almost always start functioning immediately, whereas deceased donor kidneys can take from a few days to a few weeks to start functioning
  • Over 5,000 people die every year waiting for a kidney transplant
My donation story: my mom's kidney failure was diagnosed December 2005, and the transplant occurred nearly two years later. I was the first person in my family to be tested (starting with a basic blood test), and we found out that I was a perfect match. This is incredibly rare, and allowed us to become part of a study at Stanford. Because of our involvement in the study, I had to go through some extra tests, but in general, they want to find out if you're healthy enough to donate, and how well your kidneys function. These can include blood tests, urine sampling, CT scans, and MRI's.

The actual operation: I was in the hospital for two nights. Two nights! I felt pretty barfy when I was woken up after the surgery, but that was mostly the anesthesia wearing off. Plus, they woke me up to tell me that the transplant had gone well and my mom was doing fine. I slept off and on all that day. I didn't feel great, and my abdominal muscles were extremely sore. Like, if I tried to sit up without using my hands, it hurt real bad. It also hurt to cough and laugh for a few days. Peter took me home the next day, where I hung out in bed watching The Office and eating various broths for a few days. I had three scars: one big one on my lower stomach where they took the kidney out, and two smaller ones. (They are basically gone now!) On my second or third day home, I took a walk down the street to Starbucks. It felt like I had done ten million situps and I had to hunch over. Honestly, the worst thing physically was when I put too much pepper in my broth and had a coughing fit that almost destroyed me due to my compromised abs. Seriously. That was the most physical pain I suffered.

I'm not saying becoming a living donor is not a big deal. It is. It's a huge deal, and the emotional impact can be more much more powerful than the physical. It is major surgery, and no surgery is without risk. I can only speak to my own experience. I will say that six years later, I'm in the best shape of my life. It would not be in my best interest to become a raging alcoholic or get repeatedly kicked in my remaining kidney, but I anticipate a totally normal life expectancy as well as the ability to drink a Manhattan every once in a while. Also, I get to see my mom for her birthday this weekend. 

Caitlin's last few years have been a real suckstorm, and while her health has improved, her life has changed a lot. She hasn't been able to travel for craft shows (where I first met her!) and has to deal with a lot of stress both physically and mentally. I would love to see her get a new kidney. If you have any questions, feel free to comment anonymously or send me or Caitlin an email. I will answer as honestly as I can. You can also check out Kidney.org for more info. Word-of-mouth is often the only way recipients find donors, so this is the least I can do. Please share this post in the hope that someone, somewhere will be interested, curious, or ready to give a huge gift to an awesome lady.


I'm back!

Fur and Glasses poster by French artist Audrey Jeanne

Oh, hey, guys. I'm back! Mostly because I wanted to show you this poster. It's from this amazing UK shop called The Hambledon, and I would like to purchase everything they have for sale. What if I were one of those jerks who had a "wishlist" so readers would buy me stuff? Man, I hate that kind of thing.



Deer Girl Doll Pattern by Noia Land on Etsy
 EVERYONE! Since I haven't updated in forever, I think I'm going to call this an official break. I'm working on a million things (including a full-time job that's taking up a lot of my valuable "sitting around time), feeling great, and reassessing what the heck I'm doing. Future plans include migrating this darn blog over to Wordpress, where it'll look a lot prettier and I can do more of the things I want to do, like tutorials and contests! If you are desperate to follow my day-to-day activities, I post on Instagram about a hundred times a day. Follow me there, and don't fret--I'm coming back to blogging SOON.

I'll leave you with this incredible pose doll pattern by Noia Land.


Craftcation Day 1

craftcation, craft, pollyannacowgirl, firefly express, ventura,
photo by Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made
Craftcation! Craftcation! The most wonderful time of the year! I was so ready for a blast of inspiration and information, and now that I'm here, I'm getting both in spades.

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, jenny smith plush artist, jenny smith, plush, craft conference, ventura, firefly express
Plush artist Jenny Smith with some soft amigos.
I really wanted to make it to Thursday's SLR camera workshop; I am lucky enough to be long-term borrowing a Canon Digital Rebel right now, but am totally not using it to its full potential (i.e. I have no idea how to use it). Chris & Jenn, a powerhouse married photography team, gave a super-simple presentation that was perfect for the basics I need to know. It was so helpful that I literally dreamed about camera settings!

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, needle felting, needlefelting, felt, wool, craft conference, ventura, firefly express

Then I hit the advanced needle felting workshop with Angharad Jones, where she taught beginners how to make felted balls and pros how to create sculptures with limbs! I was lazy and made another matryoshka, but my bud Becky made this sweet cat in Lakers purple for her bf.

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway, craft conference, ventura, firefly express

Then we ate all the foods! I don't give a damn about gluten-free stuff, but those s'mores were off the hook. During dinner, Kathy Cano-Murillo gave an incredible keynote speech. We all know I'm a black-hearted cynic, but I was so touched by her sincere words. It's often very hard for me to feel good about myself as a creative person. The thing about Kathy is, at the heart of all her success, she just makes stuff. And keeps making stuff. And I think that's really the key to this whole venture.

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway, craft conference, ventura, firefly express

Attendees got to write their goals for 2013 on these paint chips!

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway, craft conference, ventura, firefly express

There's a reading lounge and pop-up shop featuring goods from Superbuzzy!

craftcation, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway, craft conference, ventura, firefly express

Quotes like this are posted all over the hotel. Sometimes I'm an old crankypants about inspirational quotes but this time, it's working for me. Maybe because I'm feeling better, they're easier for me to believe.


Fabric Zingers of the Week: Rashida Coleman-Hale's Tsuru for Cloud 9

fabric, firefly express, rashida coleman-hale, pollyannacowgirl, blog, tsuru, cloud 9
Motif Madness available at Owl and Drum on Etsy
There's so many talented people to discover in the craft world. How did I miss Rashida Coleman-Hale for so long? Her book Zakka Life has been on my wish list forever, but I just connected that to her blog, I Heart Linen, and her off-the-hook new fabric line, Tsuru. Sheesh. The more I get into fabrics and their designers, the more I'm convinced that I need to get to one of these dang Quilt Markets.

pollyannacowgirl, rashida coleman-hale, the firefly express, fabric, fabric zingers of the week, print
Blossom Festival available at StashModernFabric on Etsy
I love this line because it successfully mixes hard lines with soft florals, not to mention the colors!


Mushroom Mania

I made this little buddy the other night to celebrate the coming of spring (and also because I bought a huge wad of pink roving and had to test it immediately).



cat, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway, maine coon, droste effect

1. This painting is called "Not With My Wife You Don't." It says so on the back.

2. My cat is a genius.


Straight Stitch Society Apple Sewing Kit as Made by Bucktooth Mama

straight stitch society, bucktooth mama, apple coin purse, pollyannacowgirl, firefly express, sewing, pattern
pic by Bucktooth Mama

I love Instagram. There, I said it. I love Instagram because it's the only social network that feels truly social to me. For whatever reason, I've found a great group of new innernette friends there and I'm stoked about it. One of my new buds Melissa, aka Bucktooth Mama, posted this darling project. It's an apple-shaped sewing kit from Straight Stitch Society, a new pattern line from Liesl Gibson. Melissa is an incredible seamstress and sassy lady who's always making cute stuff for her lovely daughters. She's also not your average Salt Lake City mommyblogger--just read this to find out why.

pollyannacowgirl, firefly express, liesl gibson, oliver & s, straight stitch society, sewing, pattern, fabric
Keep Your Cool Smartphone Case pattern/pic from Straight Stitch Society

All the other Straight Stitch Society patterns are tiny and adorable, and although they're a little challenging for my beginning skill set (zippers? noooo!), I want to try 'em all! How cute would these phone cases be for summer? Answer: very cute.


Happy Valentine's Day: DIY Metal Valentine's Card

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! This is a little different from the cute-cutesy stuff I normally post, but when I heard I heard about this project, I was totally enchanted and had to find out more. My bf is a machinist and works at an epic machine shop in San Francisco. They make all manner of things out of metal, from gates to signs to architectural flourishes you never even considered, using a waterjet machine.

It's pretty incredible to the layperson (me!) to see the stuff that goes on in there. His colleague Nick Foster found a way to use his shop skills to make a beautiful valentine for his lady, and I was so into it that I wanted to share his process and the final result! Here's how this very special valentine was made, in Nick's words:

all photos by Nick Foster
"The idea for this all-metal Valentine's Day card originally started out as a joke when browsing a selection of spring loaded door hinges. After realizing that small hinges with gentle springs were available, this self-closing Valentine's Day card was designed.

metal, valentine, diy, handmade, waterjet, firefly express, pollyannacowgirl, nick foster, design, metalwork
This 4" tall card was cut, along with lettering, on a waterjet machine.  The stainless steel hinge was then welded to the leaves. A short message is pounded into the back of the card using common letter punches and a hammer.

metal, valentine, diy, handmade, waterjet, firefly express, pollyannacowgirl, nick foster, design, metalwork
Finally, a heart shape, also cut on the waterjet machine, was fastened to the back of the card via size 0-80 screws. The heart shape is intended to function as a picture frame, holding a picture securely to the back leaf of the card!

metal, valentine, diy, handmade, waterjet, firefly express, pollyannacowgirl, nick foster, design, metalwork
 In order to make the card more pleasing to the eye, the front cover is decorated using a technique referred to as 'machine turning' or 'jeweling.' This is an old-fashioned technique which involves spinning an abrasive circular brush against the stainless steel cover in a repeating grid pattern such that light is captured and reflected in an interesting pattern."

metal, valentine, diy, handmade, waterjet, firefly express, pollyannacowgirl, nick foster, design, metalwork

Incredibly cool, yes? Enjoy your day, treat yo'self no matter your romantic situation, and get ready to buy a ton of 75% off chocolate tomorrow. XO!


Mushroom Washi Tape and Justin Timberlake

pollyannacowgirl, firefly express, washi tape, mushroom
from Etsy shop Little Happy Things

We live in a wonderful world, don't we? First, Justin Timberlake's new album, and now this. Fabric will always be my first love, but damn, washi tape. You're special.



Look at this crappy screenshot from my iPhone, you guys! Every since I started making stuff, I've considered Craft to be the gold standard for cool handmade projects, so I was blown away yesterday to find my latest Limn & Lovely tutorial featured!

polly conway, limn and lovely, skeleton key tutorial, craft, project, neon, key
photo by me for Limn & Lovely
Speech? A speech, you say? Well, all right. I'm so grateful to Lauren for giving me the opportunity to stretch my stagnating brain; experimenting with different genres and supplies is the most fun ever. And to Haley, who is my favorite highly influential fellow crafty goofball. Please visit Limn & Lovely for the full tutorial (so easy, of course!); I'll just be here guzzling champagne for the foreseeable future.


Crafternoon for a Cause

While I spend most of my time here in front of the computer listening to my cat snore (is this normal?! she snores so loudly!), I sometimes leave the house for very good reasons. This Sunday I'll be in Alameda leading the new and improved Modern Mouse Crafternoon! For the past two years, I've been teaching monthly craft projects, but in 2013, we're changing it up for the greater good and throwing charity into the mix. I'm very excited about making these blankets for Project Linus as my own security blanket, Benny (I called it BENNY. That's right, Benny.) as a kid was a huge comfort to me. Project Linus gives blankets to kids who need them. So, RSVP here and I hope to see you there!

AND, if you come, you'll also get to see Modern Mouse's sweet new space! It's sunnier, sparklier, and more spacious than the old location, and the crew has done a gorgeous job of making all the merchandise shine.

I made the banner and the heart necklaces on the right!
pollyannacowgirl, modern mouse, jewelry, color, kitsch, kawaii
The Pollyannacowgirl corner at Modern Mouse!
A contemporary of my Benny.
  P.S. My Benny had a satin binding that I would rub between my fingers while sucking my thumb. I will never forget the feeling. If that isn't comfort, I don't know what is.


Writing. Doing. Trying.

Poster from Monster Gallery on Etsy
I'm tryin', man! I'm tryin'.



Only $9 from Boqinana on Etsy
I'm in a no-treat zone right now, but look at these doggone stickers. 


Craftcation 2013!

 When you work from home, it's fantastic to leave the house and see people sometimes. You're so starved for human contact that you can't resist telling the grocery guy your life story, and the baristas at Starbucks know your cat's name. But what happens when the people you see are all creative, like-minded, inspirational friend/heroes? That's real nice. And it's one of the reasons I'm so super excited to attend Craftcation again this year!

I just had the best time last March; it got me all jazzed about not only my business but my life as a creative person. Sometimes (all the time) I lack confidence in my choices and abilities, but being surrounded by other people succeeding at/trying the same things I am silenced those sour voices in my head and made me feel like a million bucks. I also solidified tons of internet friendships, learned important things about taxes and I kind of fell in love with charming Ventura, a town previously notable only for its legendary mini golf course.

I was so inspired by Jenny Hart's honest keynote that I even raised my hand at the Q&A (and I despise Q&A sessions!). Not everyone at Craftcation is a crafty bigwig (although there are lots, and they are really nice). Some people are just testing the waters, figuring out their new Etsy shop or just there to learn for the heck of learning. Are you in California? You should go to Craftcation. I'm volunteering again this year, so I might serve you lunch or give you a goody bag!


Debbie's Leaf Dress

Debbie's Leaf Dress

Debbie's Leaf Dress by pollyconway featuring Cookoorikoo

Of all the dresses in film history, Debbie Reynolds' leaf dress from Singin' in the Rain has to be my favorite. I was reminded of this last weekend when we got to see the film for a mere $5 at Oakland's opulent Art Deco palace, the Paramount Theater. 

I also think it would look really great on me (Debbie, like her daughter Carrie Fisher and moi, is 5'2" and prone to roundness). Until I get a million dollars to buy it away from the collector who owns the real deal (it's totally still around and wearable!), here's a little collage of treats you can find to recreate the look. 

Pic from Theatrical Historical Society on Flickr
It's a wonderful thing they do, the Paramount, letting a bunch of clowns like me, families, and regular old folks have the run of the theater for one night per month, and I've vowed to get there more often. Here's the schedule if you want in!


Fabric Zingers of the Week: Dutch Door Press for Kokka

Folk Splendor by Dutch Door Press
It took me about a year, and owning multiple yards of this Kokka fabric to realize that it was designed by Dutch Door Press, an SF-based letterpress company that I've adored for ages. Duh! 

Matryoshka fabric by Dutch Door Press for Kokka, available on Etsy
They also did this one. I like for five reasons: birds, colors, flowers, hearts, matryoshkas.

California quail and poppy print from Dutch Door Press
I bought this California print last year at Renegade and I love it, although I never, ever see any quail. Have you ever seen your state bird?


My Adventures with Pete & Pete

 This is me when I was 12. I was happy, but things, including the mustard/purple tortoiseshell combination on my gigantic glasses, were complicated. 

Thankfully, a couple of young writers wanted to make a kids' tv show that spoke to sensitive, precocious nerdlets like me, and against all odds, Nickelodeon let them put it on the air. If you're not between the ages of 27-35, let me school you. The Adventures of Pete & Pete was a show about two red-headed brothers, both named Pete, and their lives in the fictional suburb of Wellsville. It had the most ridiculously perfect indie rock soundtrack and score, thanks to musician Mark Mulcahy, and featured guest stars like Michael Stipe, Steve Buscemi, Adam West, and Debbie Harry. Like a less maudlin Wonder Years and a way goofier Freaks and Geeks, Pete & Pete was hands down the best thing that came out of the 90's, and I'm including Hypercolor in that proclamation.

I think sincerity was the key to the show's popularity with my demographic; while quirk for quirk's sake was a huge part of the show (a squid as school mascot, an existential bus driver, the intoxicating sports beverage Orange Lazarus, and of course, Artie, The Strongest Man in the World), the ever-present undercurrents of deep sadness that children often feel gave Pete & Pete a depth that I understood even then.

They took great care to not dumb jokes down, to be as absurdist as possible (Artie reminiscing with a turtle about their expat adventures with Hemingway and Gertrude Stein?!), and as honest as possible about the confusion and deep questions that all kids have. In re-watching the show, the nature really shines; crunching leaves, freshly-mown grass, ice-cold December air. It's no surprise that I remember it so well; all those scenes filmed outdoors instead of a stuffy soundstage really worked to create a reality unlike any other kids' show.
Then, of course, there was big Pete. 

TV crushes are serious business when you've only been exposed to the same fifteen boys since preschool (thanks, Catholic school!), and I spent a good deal of time fantasizing about the grand times I could have with Big Pete if only we could somehow meet. It was awesome, and way more satisfying than my earlier crush on Dr. Doogie Howser. I would also like to plac blame on Big Pete 99% for the three dates I had with a sociopathic goober, initially drawn in by his Pete-esque auburn mop.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that I never stopped loving the hell out of Pete & Pete, especially now that I'm a grown-up writer who can appreciate the detail and skill that went into its creation even more. So I was super stoked to get my own red-headed little brother and I tickets to see the Pete & Pete 20th Anniversary Reunion Show, which happened last night thanks to the always awesome SF Sketchfest.

showing choice scenes before the show began

It was a packed house, and while I was a little nervous about how they were going to fill two hours, it just couldn't have been more perfect. Everyone was so gracious, funny, and seemed just as nostalgic as the audience. Mark Mulcahy, who I now adore even more, sang a bunch of songs from the show, and he and Toby Huss (Artie AND the voice of Kahn Supanousinphone on my other favorite show, King of the Hill!) just shredded my soul with a duet. Mixing a kids' show with the saddest, most heartbreakingly hopeful music was the best idea anyone ever had. 

pic snaked from Toby Huss' Twitter
 It was great to hear the writers talk about their goals for the show, and that they really were targeting kids exactly like me. I didn't get any direct quotes (two negronis and the total giddiness of my inner teen shoved my inner journalist to the curb) but one of them mentioned how they wanted to capture the feeling of a summer sunset and what it might mean to a kid playing outside. iCarly just doesn't cover that kind of territory.

The Petes were lovely, Endless Mike was there, and the special guest players were some of my favorites from the Sketchfest pool of usual suspects, James Urbaniak, Paget Brewster, Doug Benson, and Colin Hanks. Paget Brewster did the most spot-on Miss Fingerwood impression and now I want her to be my best friend.
pete and pete, peteandpete, the adventures of pete and pete, cross stitch, embroidery, pollyannacowgirl, polly conway

Oh, and I meant to have this little number completed by the night of the show so I could give it to someone or something, but now it's done and will have to live here at my house.

It was the best show ever, and the best night ever. Thanks for the memories!