Sunday, March 30, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Here, Dear Reader, behold the beginnings of a... hmmm. That bears a striking resemblance... turn that around...
Despite her mortification at inadvertently colorizing one of the cartoon *hahahaHAAha!* icons of her childhood, Our Heroine bravely surges forward. Brown was never her favorite *hahahaHAAha!* color anyway. *hahahaHAAha!* Gamely, she invokes the timeworn... er, timeTESTED theory that if a little purple is bad, then a lot of purple will be very good, indeed. *rat-a-tat-tat-tat-TAT hahahaHAAha!*
Raiding her treasured cross-stitch supplies *hahahaHAAha!* and choosing a new needle to accomodate, Our Heroine invokes Purpleness to cover all raggedy stitching lines. She covers each seam with loving care, invoking Purpleness *hahahaHAAha!* all the while.
What's this, then? This needle was not bent when it came from the package.
No, surely it was not so beautifully curved before.
It would seem, Dear Reader, that in her zeal *hahahaHAAha!* to invoke Purpleness, Our Heroine has aimed for The Great Liberace but has inadvertently attracted the attention of Uri Geller, who has announced his presence upon our Red Paisley Chicken Stage by bending Our Heroine's needle. Welcome, welcome Mr. Geller! We had no idea that you were a fan of The Great Liberace, Mr. Geller, or of Purpleness, or even of colorized cartoon icons! *hahahaHAAha!*
*Management wishes herein to note that Mr. Geller's attention and participation in the creation of this Purple Prose are certainly within the Realm of Probabilities. *hahahaHAAha!* How far within the Realm, we cannot say; and yet in all fairness to Mr. Geller, we must say they are certainly within the Realm. His fandom for the Great One Management cannot comment upon, lacking all knowledge of such situations.... yet again we are compelled by fairness to Mr. Geller to point out this also is certainly within the Realm of Probabilities. The Great Liberace was, after all, beloved by millions, and why should Mr. Geller be arbitrarily excluded from that number? * *hahahaHAAha!*
And so, Dear Reader, Our Heroine carries on, lovingly invoking Purpleness over every seam, thinking fondly *hahahaHAAha!* of both The Great Liberace and Mr. Geller *hahahaHAAha!* when her thoughts wander to Gryph, and what Gryph *hahahaHAAha!* would say about her happy circumstances.
Our Heroine hangs her head.
*hrumph* Our Heroine sighs.
Our Heroine writes.
Dear Mr. Geller,
I apologize for inadvertently impugning your reputation and implying that you might not be a fan, after all, of weirdly embroidered purple woodpeckers. Please forgive me. You may have the purple woodpecker if you like. Please let me know where to send it.
I hope you don't live in Switzerland. I don't know how to mail things to Switzerland and if I send the bird by air, his wings will fall off from the flapping.
Ever so VERY so sincerely yours,
I'm keeping the needle.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
after all. Sheesh.
You asked, "I do love your leather bags. Where do you ship them to and how did you figure out how to market them? I am inspired by your and Gryph's ingenuity about starting a home buisness. I am in the same ball park, looking for something I can do at home."
A friend who has a costume business offered me her scraps for quilting, and Gryph her leather scraps. We were talking about it and she said if Gryph would be interested, she had lost her supplier for leather belt pouches and she would take what we made on consignment. So of course we jumped on that, lickety split! Our friend already has a website (Twin Roses Designs http://www.twinrosesdesigns.com/ ), so the marketing is already in place.
We're finding a certain amount of marketing in word-of-mouth, too; a couple people have already asked for bags and we're thrilled about that!
Best to you in finding a "homemade business" that makes your heart sing; I know one is out there and you will find it. I think it takes a certain amount of introspection, yanno? Looking inward to see what it is that you might be doing that other people would like----and then it takes the courage to actually START doing it. Once you get started, you'll naturally work through your doubts and then you'll be okay!
Blessings to you!!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Baby Quilter grabbed some breakfast and sat down to read email.
Self-Installing Cat Acessory Module One initiated installation in the vicinity of Quilter's breakfast.
Quilter objected. Installation terminated.
Module One objected with feet during uninstall. Desktop objects kicked over.
Quilter observed Domino Effect, picked many objects up from floor.
Coffee began to show up in odd places. Quilter observed Gryph's mostly empty coffee cup on side; oh no! Quilter picked up coffee cup, ran for towel.
Toooooooooooo Laaaaate. Quilter returned with towel only to see coffee-waterfall pouring over edge of desk INTO keyboard. Coffee cup had NOT been mostly empty!
*Quilter's reaction deleted to protect the innocent and those with sensitive systems, as well as anyone who thinks Quilter might be a nice person OR those who think Quilter does not cry*
Quilter has run many errands since that inauspicious moment--including one to obtain new keyboard.
No quilting has happened.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Been doing a lot of thinking about who I am and what I need; I made a long livejournal post about it. I've copied it on the bottom of this post because it's germane to my journey as an artist.
In the meantime, this is my latest bag, the perfect size to hold a cell phone and keys, or to hold a digital camera. I had to lighten the pic up with my photo program to make the color more realistic and the stitches visible. Dunno how long it takes to get really good at this craft; I see major improvement already but dang! so far to go yet!
Gryph is almost finished with the sixth bag and then they will be in the mail and my sewing machine will come back out. *grin* I have MISSED it! We won't stop on the leather bags, but I will add sewing fabric back into my life, cuz yano... I have scrap bunnies and drawstring bags and PIECING to do! Woooohooooo!!!!
A matter of balance
People with fibromyalgia discover pretty quickly that their sense of balance has changed. Sometimes just walking without tripping over anything is a challenge, and walking without walking into anything is impossible. Sometimes standing in one place is even harder than walking. When one's sense of balance is off, one becomes grateful for walls, furniture, anything one can touch to regain equilibrium. The wall in a narrow hallway or kitchen can become an intimate friend; the edges of sofas, tables, chairs can become the recipients and safeguards of one's vulnerabilities.
Finding balance can be tricky in other ways when one has fibromyalgia. Treasured activities become limited and sometimes impossible; things which others take for granted now take major effort. Fibromyalgia leads one to be wary of making promises or even casual agreements, for the possibility is not only ever-present but strong that one will be waylaid with pain or exhaustion on the way. One comes to prioritize activities, "how much pain am I willing to endure not only today but also tomorrow and the rest of next week in order to do this? How much will I get back from this; will it be worth losing the rest of my activities for a week or so?"
People who have not dealt with fibromyalgia (or other chronic conditions) don't tend to understand that every action has to be weighed against guaranteed consequences. They often feel rejected and do not understand that it is not a rejection, just a physical limit that cannot be gotten past.
I have not only fibromyalgia but also carpal tunnel syndrome. I've noticed the kitchen wall is becoming ever more my friend this past week, and sleep is ever more elusive. Things in alarming quantities are dropping out of my hands. My balance is off and must be regained. There are things I must do, things I want to do... and things I love which I must not do.
Moving in with Gryph gave me my life back in many ways. The artist, the craftsperson in me are both awake and feeling a need for expression. I can do today what I have not been able to do for years--and I want to--but it takes time. I move slowly; I am constantly picking back up all the things which somehow magically tumble to the floor when my unbalanced self comes near them; my stamina is reduced. These facts mean that doing what I want to do is not going to be easy. I will have choices to make about which activities are worth it, yanno?
In looking for balance in my life, I have seen that making my dreams means I have to give up things which don't move me forward, things which cause me distress, things which take too much time for little return, things I might want to do but which cause me intense pain. In order to return to the person I was, I have to let go the things which filled my time when I was unable to be a "maker." The person who crocheted fine doilies and table runners, the person who painted wildlife, the person who made holiday ornaments, the person who did fine beadwork---this person did not spend much time online. When I look for balance, I see that there are communities which sustain me as an artist, and communities which, however much they may have sustained me in the past, today cost me a great deal of effort.
It's time for me to admit this and do something about it. It's time for me to regain my balance. Last night I recognized that giving up sleep and housework for these activities is not an acceptable compromise. I must sleep, and I must give sleep the time it needs to work for me. I must also keep up with the housework, for I have discovered the bare minimum standards that make it possible to live my life the way I wish to and lately I have not met those minimums. The quality of all our lives is diminished when I put off the work which needs to be done; even the cats are distressed.
In my tiredness, I am also putting off the "making" I need to do, those activities which make me feel like myself again. I have lived my life for years feeling "not real" because I was not able to be the person I am inside, and now at last I feel real again. I want to LIVE, now; I want to experience fully this rebirth of myself--I want to MAKE.
This means I must choose. I must spend less time online and more time sleeping, keeping up with the household, and making my dreams. It is time to let go of that which costs me too much, time to make more room for that which sustains and rebuilds me. It is time to say goodbye to the past, and to move confidently into the future... kitchen wall at the ready, of course. *wry smile*
This means I won't checking [my other websites] for a while. My wrists are not able to cope with the typing and scrolling I have been doing and they must rest; I must find the balance and withdraw for healing. You can find me here http://dreambit1.blogspot.com/ or you can email me (b-bit AT earthlink DOT net). If you would like to talk on the phone, drop me a note with your number. I have free long distance. *smile*
Thank you for your friendship over the years. Please understand, I am not rejecting you--I have come up against a physical limit and must deal with it. This is why I posted about not knowing whether to renew my [website] membership or not; I was weighing the good that I get from being active on the forum against the costs. Computer time is extraordinarily costly to my hands right now, and I need these hands for other things. To find my balance, I must reduce computer time. I cannot forego my email, of course, and you are most welcome to write! But I must give up the majority of my websites.
Blessings to us all,Cath
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Here I am holding a partly finished bag up for an experimental photo. You can see that the bag has a double-layered back, with green leather inside. What you cannot see is that the needle fell and the thread is dangling as I valiantly attempt to hold the bag steady for Gryph's camera.
Um, yes... what you see next IS a Self-Installing Cat Accessory with Optional Camera-Flash Eye Enhancement. This is Module One, ready to spring into action and plunder the irresistibly sweet booty he has found.
Hahaaaa, he caught it! The Mighty Pirate Hunter with Thews of Steel and Claws of Fish-hook has struck again! No dangling thread be ever safe again, me hearties! aaarggh...
"aaarggh" is right--I wasn't DONE with that bag yet! Luckily for me, un-installation of Piratical Cat Module was successful with no damage to either Module One OR the thread. *whew*
Here are the finished bags. This is the smallest green bag--it's the one with the "snake" on the backside of the strap. We tested it out; it holds a cell phone and a tri-fold wallet easily, plus keys.
This next one is the medium green bag. I confess I think of it as a "Kilroy was here" bag, lol. It is big enough to hold the above plus a checkbook, tissues, sunglasses, etc--about the size of a medium-ish purse.
This is the double-layered medium bag, finished. This bag was done with all seams to the inside, and I've discovered that I don't like them that way; it takes away some of the roominess in the bag and distorts the shape a lot. BUT in the photos, it looks better than the others... clearly I have a LOT to learn about how to photograph leather bags!
It was also a LOT of work to run the strap through the flap and have it measure out properly to both hang from a belt and keep the bag closed. We ended up using heavier leather to get the weight and strength we needed for this bag.
This last one is our biggest bag, ten inches wide at the middle by eleven inches long, and two and a half inches deep. It is easily as big as a large purse, and is made from much heavier leather than the other bags. We got three this size from the hide we bought at the Leather Factory. Two more are in progress.
So there ya have it, our progress so far on the Leather Front. Our goal is to get two of each size made before we mail them out. My fingers are crossed for this week!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Good thing Gryph has that punching board, too, or the desk would be a sorry mess!
It's hard on the ears and I am online right now because I needed a break. But hey, I don't feel like a failure anymore! I *can* do this!
Pics will come later of the bag I am working on. It's the softer leather with the double-layered back. It's big enough to hold anything a small purse would hold, tissues, glasses, keys, phone, checkbook, etc, so it would certainly do as a replacement for men's pants pockets.
That's how these bags got their start, yanno? I would have thought (in my taking-today-for-grantedness) that they were for women---but not so! The big purse-looking bags were for men in Medieval times, and when women used bags, they were smaller, daintier, quite often cloth rather than leather, and were also quite often hidden under their overgowns. Funny how fashions change... men got pockets and women got purses.
The one Gryph is working on is VERY much like a purse, mostly because the leather is that weight but also because it's bigger. I like it a lot. I'll take pics of that one tonight, too.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
"In a bad economy, make simple utilitarian but well made leather work. Make it in more tempting price ranges. Save the over the top for good times or when you have a big reputation."
"Thank you for the advice about the leatherwork. That seems very reasonable, and of course since we are just getting started and I am a complete newbie at this craft, plain is what we are doing!
"I was really discouraged last night; I had planned on five bags from the hide we bought but didn't allow for sizing up the bags, and only got three. They're going to be very, very nice--it's a wonderful piece of leather!--but we needed five. I can make at least one small one and the remnants are making sturdy straps for the other bags, but dang, that was discouraging. Luckily, we still have the softer garment weight leather and I am doubling up on the back and bottom to make those bags sturdier. They are the intermediate size and I hope they will come out the way I envision!"
Further comments for yanno, blogly documentarian purposes *grin*:
I actually flared up my carpal tunnel trying to make the holes for stitching last night, and that was a huge part of my discouragement. My wrists are better today but I am being careful with them, and Gryph is doing all the hole punching now.
I was amazed to find out that even Gryph's muscles cannot get the smaller punch through the thick leather, and yanno... I don't feel like such a failure now.
Here we come to the crux of my matter, and get right back to the reason for this blog: to deal with ALL the parts of "making dreams" including the things that have kept me from making dreams in the past. I don't know why hitting obstacles seems to always induce this sense of being a failure; I mean come on now, we aren't even talking about thinking I have failed in a particular project--which I haven't yet, come to think of it!--we are talking about a part of my identity changing from "successful person" to "failure as a person" and doesn't that seem like... oh, I don't know... an OVER-REACTION or something? *wry smile*
Well, you can't change things you can't see, and now that I can see this one, maybe I can process it to death, get a handle on it and regain my perspective, eh? *eyeroll at self* hey, they don't call me a Processing Queen for nothing... *wry laugh*
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I shall now endeavor to reproduce for you my calm satisfaction as I sewed the back onto the sides and the piece suddenly took shape:
"GRYPH GRYPH GRYPH GRYPH!!! Come!!! comecomecomecomecomecome c'mere c'mere c'mere c'mere!!!!! oh LOOKlooklooklooklook LOOK!!!! Oh! OHHH!!!!"
*Houston, we have achieved Volum-age!*
Back side of the bag. This is, of course... The End.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Going west, Old Town is the restored warehouse area, full of wonderful little businesses in buildings that date back to the 1800s and somehow survived a massive city-wide fire in the late 1880s. Farther west, downtown is full of WONDERFUL buildings with great architectural detailing on the outsides and incredible interiors--much taller than my apartment building and yet still somehow on a human scale.
Going east, one passes an incredible variety of small stores--antique stores, gift stores, decorating stores, bookstores. After that one comes to the "high rent district" which is full of large homes on huge lots with lush and detailed landscaping. Continuing on east, the high rent district gives way to more modern suburbs, still nice, still lush, and then one arrives at the mall where Gryph works. It's one easy bus ride from the front of our building to the mall and a similar easy bus ride back home again.
Within four blocks of our building are the grocery store ("pharmacy coming soon!"), the laundromat, two thrift stores, the yarn store, several antique shops, a bead shop, the movie theater, multiple music stores, a magic store(!), two book stores, and the cross stitch store.
Going west, again in one easy bus ride, Old Town has our favorite pizza place, another bead store, a scapbooking store, several gift and book stores, and a multitude of places we haven't yet explored; plus museums, multitudes of restaurants, and the restored theater. Farther on, downtown has the bus station, our bank, the library, museums, a park, another thrift store, the post office, all among multitudes of other businesses.
I could easily live my life here in Wichita the Charming, without a car, close in to everything, and never miss the rest of Wichita--especially with pizza delivery services, lol--but today I stretched my comfort level quite a lot. We took three buses in the biting wind to go to western Wichita, out of the historic districts and into the newer, blander, dirtier, uglier areas. Destination: The Leather Factory.
It was weird, especially since the journey back home involved different buses. I certainly saw a lot of Wichita I didn't expect to see and don't really need to see again. It caused me a lot of anxiety, not knowing which bus to take to get back home, and not knowing if we would have to wait in that biting wind for extended amounts of time. Luckily, we made our transfers with no trouble.
I cannot say it was no trouble in The Leather Factory. It was quite a lot of trouble, actually. The sales staff were amazingly helpful and the more helpful they were, the more trouble we got in.
This is not what I expected. I expected we would go and spend a little money, get a few things, and continue on with our day.... but no. The Leather Factory had other plans for our money and it ate it amazingly quickly, let me tell you, thereby derailing my plans for any other shopping.
We did get what we had gone for: a couple punches to make the leather bag sewing MUCH easier and more thread. It was what happened after that which derailed my budget... the hide which was on sale, the stencils which were on sale, the scissors which were on sale (and are a great value, I do have to say, especially since they will spare my quilting scissors), the membership card which gets us the discounts... oy.
My comfort level was hovering somewhere around $50 or $60... we spent nearly $150 and now the tax refund is GONE. *eeep!* It isn't that we won't use everything we bought, and fairly quickly at that--it's the (unexpected) size of our commitment to this project. I had been at a hobby level, I think, "oh, we'll make a few bags inexpensively..." and today we made a jump to "we ARE making an investment in this." Yikes! What if we can't make a go of it?! What if it doesn't work?!
I have to back off and remind myself--we are not behind on any bills, the paychecks cover the bills and food, I have a little grocery money left to tide us over until payday--we DID have the right to spend that money on anything we chose. I just didn't expect it to be this.
I have never made money consistently from what I make, even though I have sold things along the way since I was a teen and set my first candles out at a yard sale. I have never before sustained the momentum and made a going concern from what I make; I have never fulfilled that dream for myself.
This is really scary. Technically, I am helping Gryph... but yanno, one of the first two bags that will be done is mine. I downsized the bag pattern, chose the leather, cut it, and am constructing it step by step from scratch as a trial effort, a sample. I suspect I will be making more and more of them if my hands and wrists hold out. Certainly I am keeping track of expenses. I am in this thing--and we are making a bigger commitment than I had intended to make.
I am making a bigger commitment than I had intended to make.
It scares me.
Pics of the bags tomorrow. *wry smile*
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It was a really small party but that's okay cuz we could really only handle a small party at that point... but we're going to do it again! We're going to have people over again!! Ohhhhh it is so much better to live in a one-bedroom than in a studio!!! I feel like our lives, our true lives, have finally begun! Now we can come out of our cocoon (Gryph called it "the cave," living in that studio) and live like everyone else, having friends over, having floor space.... walking without tripping over or falling into box after tub after box, lol... and no one ever has to be in our bedroom cuz now it's separate from the living room, like it should be. *happy girl!*
I've been having much fun making things. I'm going to make at least one more scrapbunny, and I also am going to make more rice bags. I didn't finish the chair cover yet but it is on the list of things to do, along with two crocheted scarves, my ever-present teeny Star Wheel motifs, the cross stitch (it took a while to settle on the right fabric for practicing), and beading.
Oh! And I started another strip-piecing project; no idea what it might turn into, just had to start the strip-piecing. *grin*
Something new has landed in my lap too--leather! Right now we are experimenting, making leather bags and pouches. No pics yet--they'llbe coming after the experimental phase is over, I think, lol...
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Now the fabric submits gladly, even eagerly, as you measure and cut.
Yes, my dear ones, I took pictures. *grin*
Step one in my day: uninstall the Self-Installing Cat Accessory, Module Two. This one is Cleo, and her eyes are not actually blue; they're green/gold--but she was actually this cute. *wink*
Step two: Cut fabric into squares, two 5", two 3", two 2.5", and one 3" from contrasting fabric (that you pulled out of your scrap bag!); also cut rectangles, two 1.5" x 5" and two the same size or a little larger from the contrasting fabric.
Step three: round off the corners on each square piece (or cut into actual circles, if you're that ambitious).
Step four: Run gathering threads around each circle, and gather into a bag shape--turn right side out if necessary.
Step five: Gather your stuffing--in this case, a ziplock bag of cut-off corners and miscellaneous scraps too small for me to do much with, plus lots of thread ends--and stuff that baby, honey! Do the 5" piece first.
Step six: Sew it shut. Repeat for other 5" squircle.
Step seven: Sew them together. Do this at the very center first, and then sew another round or two of stitches just a little farther out. Use a running stitch that goes into each piece alternately, top, bottom, top, bottom, and pull your stitches tight so that the fabric comes together and covers them completely. Your goal is to have the join be both sturdy and invisible.
Step eight: "Can I say that looks strange?"
"Yes. But don't you dare say what it looks like, or I'll be forced to quilt a toilet seat cover."
*laughing* "I won't say what it looks like--I promise!!"
"That looks really strange..... what is it?"
*turning piece every which way, looking for up* "A head and body....there, see? this part is the head."
Step nine: Take picture with spool of thread for scale. Head and body fully joined, and turned to the best side for the front.
Step ten: Gather and stuff the 3" squircles for back feet; sew them shut. Sew each one to the front of the body, down low. Take picture with front feet still unstuffed and on ironing board behind piece--realize it looks like Piglet that way. File thought for future reference. We are not making Piglet today.
Even though we could if we REALLY wanted to. *nods*
Step eleven: Take a lil break, stretch, relax... be back at the ironing board in five seconds cuz it's all coming together now!
Step twelve: Gather, stuff and sew on the front feet (2.5" squircles). This gets tricky--you run out of room by the last foot and have to angle the needle, bend the feet and/or body, do whatever it takes to get that foot ON there securely. In this case, I chose to put the foot down onto the bottom foot and sew it to the body and foot both, as much for room as for cute.
Step thirteen: Admire! To scale, even.
Gather, stuff, and sew on the tail. Don't worry if it seems too contrasty; the ears will fix that.
Step fourteen: Make ears. This is way faster and easier on the sewing machine than by hand, but either works. Put fabric right sides together and sew in a popsicle stick shape: long sides, rounded top. Leave the bottom open for turning.
If you don't trim the seams or clip the corners, your ears will not need stuffed--but you will probably curse me as you struggle to turn them right sides out.
I certainly cursed me.
It WAS worth it, though; they had just enough body on the edges and plenty of droopiness in the center--hard to accomplish with stuffing in the way.
Step fifteen: Gather the insides of the ears (the contrasty fabric). Do this with the alternating running stitch again, left, right, left right of an imaginary center line. Be very careful not to catch the backs of the ears in your stitches. You want to make the fronts smaller than the backs so the ears can be shaped. Try to make some parts of your gathers with very tiny stitches and some parts with long stitches.
Odd though it seems to me, the tiny stitches are the straight parts of the ear and the long stitches are the bendy foldy parts. If you experiment, you can make the ears twist, bend, fold, droop, or stand upright.
Note the Thread Heaven box--the thread twisted and tangled terribly until I raided my cross-stitch n beading supplies for the Thread Heaven. I am so sold on this product! It works miracles!
Step sixteen: Sew the ears to the head. If you set them wide apart you magnify the Cute Factor. Sew them like you joined the head and body, alternating stitches and pulling them tight so the fabric makes them invisible.
You can make them stand more upright by sewing the back down securely a little higher up than you sew the front.
Experiment with the ears; sometimes they look absolutely adorable if you face them down and let them droop off to the sides, sometimes they need to stand up and face forward or to the sides. Each different position will change the personality; choose the one that most appeals to you, but don't let it break your heart if it won't sew on that way. Sometimes the magic happens when the ear DOESN'T cooperate, yanno?
Step seventeen: Adding the second ear. This is where the personality really begins to shine!
Step eighteen: Almost done!!
Step nineteen: nobunny is ever fully dressed without a bowtie.