Friday, February 29, 2008

Accckkk, no phone!

And no phone means no Internet, and JUST as I was getting ready to make a blog post Monday! Sheesh! We were out of service a couple days and it took three repairmen to get it back. At the end when I asked what it was, I got an embarrassed and sheepish "technical difficulties." Um, hello, I knew that much, lol.

What I think might have happened is that whomever hooked up the new neighbor's phone might have used my line for it, thereby making my line go down. It's fixed now, so all's well that ends well, except that my WIPs far outstretch my allotted blog time now.

Well, that isn't such a bad thing, either, come to think of it! I'll catch up with everyone and the posts I wanted to make after Sunday. We have company coming Sunday afternoon and I'm still trying to get this place company-ready. Tis a lost cause, so yesterday I did the only reasonable thing: bought thrift store pillowcases, because YES, I made a bag! A shabby chic purple bag! I even raided my strip piecing stash for a purple and white strip and fringed the edges, to make a shabby chic tie to adorn one handle.

And Lisa, thank you thank you thank you for laughing at your upside down floral bouquets---because I DID buy some directional pillowcases! Thanks for the warning!

I also bought some pillow shams--um, rather more of them and fewer pillow cases than I meant to *looks around, whistles innocently*--but it is okay cuz we need cushions for the chairs and there is no way I can make them all in time. We can stuff the bed pillows into the shams and use them on those hard wooden chairs for the afternoon; then I'll wash the shams and make bags! Or something.... they DO make me think all manner of "making" thoughts...

Last night while Gryph was on the puter catching up from the long drought (lol! We do so HATE being kept offline!), I sat at my sewing table and hand-stitched a lining to a pocket for my next bag. I could NOT help thinking about a box of fabric scraps coming my way from a friend who makes costumes, and wondering if I can translate the pillowcase technique to larger fabrics. I'm thinking that what I need is after all just a piece of fabric two layers thick, with the corners cut out for squaring and some extra for handles... I can do that!

The one with the pocket? Wellllll let me tell ya... you cut the hem off the handle pieces before you make the handles, and it just begged to be opened out, turned upside right, and was a border design, different from the body of the pillowcase, so the pocket on the outside and the inside bottom of the bag are the border print, ever so coordinated. Works for me!

Yanno, I could make a quilted bag..... it would not be hard to do....

Oh, you figured it out? Yes, all this creative bagness DID show up when I got stuck on the design of the chair cover.... um... *blush* well, that is what WIPs are for, right? To, um, keep the momentum going when one stalls out on something? ......I think I must need to buy more pillowcases! Yes, that's the ticket... more fabric! lol!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's been that kind of day...

I went to clean the lint out of the sewing machine before I refilled the bobbin this afternoon and the hook fell out before I could see how it was placed. I could NOT get it back in there no matter WHAT I did—talk about frustrated!!--and finally, when I came back hours later, I noticed in the “how to install the bobbin” pics that the thing the hook rests on was in the wrong position. I turned the hand wheel until it looked like the picture, snapped everything back into place, and sewed... what a learning curve... or maybe it's just this day.

I finally got everything stay-stitched and now I have it ready for the laundromat tomorrow. The next step *she says anxiously* is to actually design the chair cover... oh wait, no it's not... the next step is to iron everything. I can do that! *vast relief*

Oh, this day... I am bummed about baking at the moment... I made us some date bars last night, used the last of my walnuts and the last of my dates and a good chunk of my dried cranberries. They were great but the middle wasn't quite done, so I put them in the oven for ten minutes this afternoon so Gryph could take them to work.

Two hours later when I came home from the grocery store....... yep, I had forgotten ALL about them. They were charred clear through. *sigh*

I think maybe I will go bury my nose in a book and let this day end peacefully.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Comments! and more pics

Hello Ari, Lisa, and those who have commented privately! Thank you so very much! *huge grin* I really appreciate that you took the time to read my blog and also to comment!

Ari, I looked up the book you recommended, Stitch Graffiti. Here are a couple links I found in following the trail, so to speak. This is the author's website, and she has three images in her gallery right now. There's also a link called "stuff" that takes you to a page that's like an artist's portfolio--it has links to everything she's published and the TV shows she's appeared on.

The company that publishes the book also publishes PieceWork magazine, a truly inspirational work! Here is a link to their free projects page.

Lisa, thank you for your lovely comments! I figured anyone who is so much inspiration needs to be acknowledged!

Here is the progression on my first strip-pieced fabric. I knew the minute I read a tutorial on strip piecing that I could do it... but I didn't know how successfully, and I SURE didn't know that it's magic! So amazing!

Here they are, in order, as I sewed the strip in half again and again and opened it out each time. I started with 2 inch wide strips of fabric and sewed them together at the short ends with quarter inch seams, to sew the strips into one humongously long strip, piece after piece. Then I folded that long skinny thing in half and sewed up the long side, again with quarter inch seams. I confess I was just dying to see what would happen when I cut that short little fold open the first time. It was interesting.

Then the second time, folding it in half and sewing up the long side, cutting the short little fold open... the length halved and the width doubled again... how cool!
The third time, I began to get an inkling of what I had done.... it began to look like a real piece of fabric!
Then my dears, the finish... and I realized what magic I held in my hands. From a pile of strips--your basic pieces of nothing much and not very special-- I created this stripedy wonder:
You see here a piece of fabric that is big enough to make a cover for the back of that hard wooden chair! It is absolutely magic!

Here is the thing that told me what I had REALLY done, though.

There, do you see that?! I draped the fabric over the back of the chair to check the size, stepped back... and saw custom decorator fabric in MY Craft Room!!! Not just that... custom decorator fabric that *I* made!

See? I told you it was magic!

The second piece of fabric is twice as big. Pressing out all those teeny seams last night took quite a while, and I enjoyed it except for the part where my injured knee complained mightily about having to stand for so long--but yanno, once the seams were all pressed and the fabric was finished-looking, I was certainly impressed with it and with myself! *grins*I think my next step is to stay-stitch and wash my thrift store fabrics. I bought several pieces of white for backing, and a yellow blanket to cut apart and use in lieu of batting. This chair cover set (seat and back) is going to take some heavy wear, so I think I will line my Custom Decorator Fabric (lol!!) with the white fabric, use the (bright yellow, lol) blanket-batting, and then back the assembly with the green corduroy, a wonderful fine-wale deep hunter/forest green corduroy that I also found at the thrift store. The color is so deep that I can't actually tell which it is, hunter or forest--but it coordinates and that's what matters to me. The ties will most likely be from the corduroy, but other than that, I haven't yet worked out the design. I'm okay as long as I know the next step to take--stay-stitching.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ooops, I forgot!

I almost forgot to show you the two pics I promised! These are the lil beaded snowman and the crocheted motif "Star Wheel." I think the pics are about life size, or maybe a little bigger than that.
When I get more Star Wheels done and made into a mat, I'll take a pic on a dark background so they show up better.
Just got a bookcase from a friend, and tonight we'll be figuring out where to put it for maximum storage while still retaining floor space, lol... I admit I thought for about three seconds that we should not put it up against a wall. Then the Optional Self-Installing Cat Accessory got to it, and it wobbled like crazy when he bounded up from the floor onto the next-to-top shelf.
It goes against a wall.
Okay, NOW to do some sewing! *grins*


Brand new sewing machine, check.
Thrift store sewing table, check.
Thrift store sewing chair with removable cushion and built in storage, check.
Pins, needles, threads, small pointy scissors, big fabric-cutting scissors, check.
See through quilting ruler, check.
Scissors sharpener, check.
Seam ripper, check.
Ironing board, check.
Ironing board cover and straps to keep it tight, check.
Iron found at last in unexpected box, check.
Ten-year-old stash of beloved but perplexing fat quarters, check.
Inspiration courtesy Lisa's Dorky Homemade Quilts, check.
Documentarian with camera, check.
Enough sleep, che-----er, um, wait *sheepish look* scratch that one.

My beloved fat quarters, all lined up on the ironing board. I never knew what to DO with them before, but now I know my instincts were certainly right when I bought them! You know I loved them if I carried them around for ten years, lol...

The first strip!!! I sewed it together until I thought it was WAYYY longer than I needed... okay, first lesson learned: it is NEVER longer than you need. *grin* But it did make into the nicest piece of fabric! I will have to post that pic after my documentarian gets home from work and uploads the rest of the evening's pics. *grin* Note optional Self-Installing Cat Accessory in lower right-hand corner. Installation momentarily successful. Program hastily aborted upon return of determined quilter.

Baby quilter, all flushed with excitement! Poor Gryph, we spent the entire day getting my sewing table and moving things around in the apartment to get everything set up. We did manage to unpack several boxes along the way, so we are that much closer to having our "working home."

I had spent lots of time (once I knew we were going to move) thinking about how to arrange the new place and what would make it the right kind of home for us. You know I love the idea of a beautiful home, full of art, light, open space, serenity.... and I can never seem to get it right. Not ever. So I thought about it... why would I, a talented and resourceful intelligent person, not be able to live in a beautiful uncluttered space?

The answer really surprised me. I'm not meant to live in House Beautiful, yanno? I am a maker... I am always making something or other, whether in the kitchen or in the rest of the house. What I value in this life--as shown by the things which consistently show up in my life, year after year, the things I replace first whenever I lose them--what I value the most in this life is the ability to make things. I buy art and craft supplies year after year, consistently.

Here's another thing that speaks to my not living in House Beautiful: I value animal companions much more than fancy furnishings. Between us, Gryph and I have four cats and a doglet. This in itself leads to clutter (and fur! yikers!).

So in my thinking and planning for our new home, I realized that what we need is not House Beautiful, but an old-fashioned Working Home, yanno, like peasants had in the middle ages. I can't hang herbs to dry from the rafters--we live on the ground floor, no rafters *grin*--but I can make certain that we build crafting space into the general plan. That's why the dining room became Our Craft Room, and why the living room contains not a couch, but a computer and sewing machine. It's actually set up almost like an office; the computer desk sits at an angle so it faces the front door and shields the bedroom and my sewing area, both. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea (lol! NO one else's cuppa!), but yanno... it works for us. The bedroom is for sleeping and the rest of the house (apartment) is for working. We even got a new printer so that we can make greeting cards.

It's funny how at home I feel in this home that is set up so differently from anywhere I have ever lived before. Now if we can just get bookshelves and get the rest of these boxes unpacked, we'll be good to go... but in the meantime, my dears, I have the second set of strips pieced and they are calling me to be made into fabric now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Making Dreams

Hello and welcome! I've been so inspired by reading art and craft blogs lately that I thought I would make one of my own. I'm on an odyssey to reclaim a part of myself that has long been undervalued and underutilized: my own creative spirit. This is a new beginning for me and is inspired in equal parts by my recent move into an apartment with a dining room, which has just been repurposed as Our Craft Room *note the capitals!* and by the love and support my Gryph shows me. When someone is enthusiastic about the things I want to do without pressuring me about it, that makes it easier to try new things. I appreciate that kind of support so very much!

I hope in this blog to keep a record of my odyssey, the adventures along my way, and yes, even any misadventures. I'm not so inexperienced to think that I won't make any mistakes--and also not so inexperienced to think that mistakes will be the end of me. I used to think that; I fight an old tape that chants in my head, "do it right or don't do it at all," and I think that idea is a true creativity killer. It used to be that if I didn't do it "right" the first time I tried anything, I would count myself a failure and not do that thing again... but some arts and some crafts take MUCH practice before they're "right" and so I hereby state that I am willing to make the attempt and put in the practice!

I have to say that Lisa from Dorky Homemade Quilts is a huge inspiration to me in this area. She has written so eloquently about quilting as an act of joy and love, rather than an art of rules, that she has freed some long-held desires of mine to try again--this time without worrying if I do it "right" or not. If you haven't read her books, do yourself a favor and get them right away! She's equal parts laughter and inspiration.

Another inspiration to me is my friend Ursy in OZ, who decided to learn crochet one day and just did it. She started with a crocheted rug and has moved on to all sorts of things; her willingness to tackle a new craft without letting any kind of fear handicap her amazes and inspires me! Her fairy drawings inspire me, too. Some day I hope to be as free and confident in my own drawings!

I owe Ursy a debt I cannot repay, because her enthusiasm for crochet inspired me to pick up a hook again. I deal with chronic carpal tunnel syndrome and for many years was unable to crochet at all, but this past fall I attempted a doily and was pleasantly shocked to find that I could do it. I never finished that original doily and I intend to frog it back and do something else with the thread, but in the meantime I moved on to snowflakes at holiday time, and from there to an unbelievably thin size 80 thread and an old motif from Coats and Clark "Treasures in Crochet, No. 296" called Star Wheel.

There is something so satisfying about meeting the challenge of this old-fashioned pattern and this thin, thin thread. To go from believing that crochet was withheld from me forever to being able to do something complex and demanding is nothing short of a miracle! And just as soon as I figure out where I packed the card reader for the computer *moving is such joy... eeep!* I will get a picture uploaded.

I cannot take pictures of most of what I have done, because there is another, even stronger, old tape in my head that constantly chants away that it is not okay to make things for the joy of having them. Everything must have a purpose and it is only okay to make things if they are a gift for someone else--and then, only if I can not afford to buy a gift. You can imagine that after a lifetime's art and craft, I myself have very little to show, since it has all been given away. I might choose to still give things away, but now that I have this blog, I will do my best to document them before they go.

Now that I have this blog, I am hoping the old tapes will break and my creativity will be freed again!

The most recent craft I learned is cross-stitch. I made a small snowman from a kit. He's supposed to be beaded, but I didn't like the look and unbeaded him halfway through, lol... I think he's much cuter just cross-stitched with some beaded embellishments. Once I find the card reader, he will also be in my pictures here.

Last night Gryph bought me a sewing machine--and was I ever bouncy, just like a kid at holiday time!--so that I can learn my next craft: quilting. This is Lisa's fault. *big grin* Reading her blog has me practically on fire to start cutting and sewing fabric! The first thing I must make? A chair cushion for my sewing chair, lol... tis a little hard on the behind to sit for so long! The plan right now is to strip piece it, thereby learning that technique.

All my plans are subject to change, of course. I like to let inspiration meander wherever it will when I am working. I may very well get so enthused about strip piecing that I end up with a mixer cover or a set of curtains. *wink*