Sunday, October 31, 2010

The trouble with embroidery...

I've been slacking. I haven't met my two project per week goal in two weeks, namely because one of the projects I'm working on involves a hand-embroidered circle. Ever tried that before? It's insanely difficult. I traced out a nice circle, but somehow it ended up egg shaped anyway. So I had to rip half of it out and start again. Yikes.

No more hand embroidered circles. For serious. In fact, no more perfect geometric shapes at all. Only organic forms for me, thanks. I don't believe in straight lines or right angles. Ever seen one in nature? I didn't think so. Anyway, I'm off to try and complete it. Wish me luck.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Zornow Challenge

I've been challeneged to copy this image, just to learn a bit of comic book illustration style.

Think I can do it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yummy Fall Soup

So I sort of fell off the wagon with the raw food diet.  The trip got me all messed up.  I'm back on caffeine, too, but I hope to remedy these things soon.  Sort of.  I'm not going back to raw.  But I will say that I felt FANTASTIC after I got over the not eating "normal" food.  What I am going to do is eat nothing but fruits and veggies during the day.  So the only thing different is that they can be cooked.  To get back into the swing of things, I've been eating like this:

1 apple
1 glass water or organic juice - occasionally made at home!

Baby carrots - extreme!

large greek salad with onions, cucumbers, and olives.  (sometimes cheese.  forgive me?)

Almonds.  yum!

And for dinner the other night, I invited an adventurous friend over to try a new recipe from Clean Food: Apple and Squash Soup.  Great for alkalinizing the blood, or so it's said.  Oh, and it's incredibly easy to make!  There's no dairy in this puppy, though you could easily replace the rice and coconut milk for the real deal.  I might try adding some potatoes (Idaho style or sweet) and maybe carrots, just for some other flavor.  I'm also considering adding a little kick to it, with some cayenne pepper.  As is, this soup is ever so mildly sweet, but rather filling.  All this without being heavy.  The recipe says to blend it with a hand mixer, but since I don't have one, I mashed it with a spoon.  It's a little bit chunky, but delicious!  And Jeni, my adventurous friend, enjoyed it too!  It's also this beautiful golden orange color, perfect for fall.  So grab yourself a butternut and a few apples, and of course the lovely book here, and get to cookin!  Be sure to have friends around, cause I'm having quite a time trying to eat it all by myself.  I wonder if it freezes well...

Image from
This is not the soup I made, but this is what it looks like!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sawing and Sewing

There is a great parallel between sewing and woodworking.  Now they may sound different, but think about it.  If you make a bad seam, you can rip all the stitches out and fix it.  If you put some boards together the wrong way, you can pull the nails out and fix it.  Things can be patched and covered, and the only thing you really can't undo is cutting.  Even that can be corrected on occasion.

I've been doing a lot of both lately.  I'm learning to be precise, to plan ahead, to focus.  As it turns out, when you do those things, you can avoid a lot of problems!  There was a time when I never would have accounted for the width of the blade, or the thickness of the wood when building something, and come up short on material every time.  I have learned my lesson.  Things go much more smoothly.

Varying the type of work I'm doing has helped me keep up my two project per week goal.  This week, Rachel, Dad and I completed the media shelf.  It's a gleaming monument to storage for a specific purpose and made at home at much higher quality than the ones you can buy in stores.  No more particle board for me, thanks!  I also finished one of the meditation bags commissioned by a co-worker.  It was a small 6 x 8 inch velvet bag, embroidered and lined, and you'd have thought I presented him the hope diamond.  Still, you can't beat somebody being excited about your handiwork!

Other incentive when it comes to woodworking and thinking ahead:  not getting your fingers sawed off!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ancient Art - New Fascination

I just realized that not only do I have a stash of supplies at my apartment, but my old room in my parents' house also has a closet full of stuff.  Oy.  So that means it will take much more time to work through all my stuff before I can justify buying it.  However, that also means there's much more to choose from!  And this could be good, because I just found a new art form/useful tool to try and create.  Thimbles. Ok, not your every day bucket thimbles, but yubinuki.  Any guess as to its origin?  *wink*

How can you resist something functional -that means totally justifiable- and this GORGEOUS?

I can't.
Here's to having two stashes of supplies and all the stuff I need to make hundreds of these suckers!  All you need is some thin bias fabric, paper, and some batting, or even a cotton ball.  Yes people, a cotton ball.  And of course, gorgeous thread.  Traditionally they use silk, but regular embroidery floss will work.  Just consider whether it's twisted, and how much luster it has.  Luster is nice.

Check out Shishi Girl and Ma Mercerie for instructions and ideas, all in English!  I'll let you know if I find more patterns in English, but I might just have to take a few more Japanese courses to get good at this stuff.  Why must I try to do everything I see?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Color of the Day

It wasn't planned, but today's color is definitely blue.  Specifically, light cerulean blue.  Don't think this is a bad thing.  This shade of blue is perhaps the most useful color there is.

Just look at it!  It's cool, but not too cool.  The perfect color for reflective light in any piece of artwork.  Seriously.  Regardless of what you're drawing, it works.  Today, I'm using it to mark on black velvet for embroidery.  Because it's blue and not white, it is visible, but will not draw extra attention if I can't remove it all from the finished piece.

Also, totally by coincidence, I put on a light blue shirt.  Realizing the theme, I went ahead and wore the fragrance Light Blue, by D&G.  It seems important for the day.  Guess we'll see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tips from Grandma

My grandmother taught me everything I know.  Seriously, she taught me to read and write, sew, crochet, paint, cook, everything!  And she recently gave me a tip I found most helpful.  Everyone probably has already heard this, but if you run your thread through either beeswax, or a bar of soap, you will smooth out thread, and prevent it from snagging.  This is especially useful if you're trying to embroider with metallic thread.  As you might expect, it has strands of metal in it, so it's prone to kinks and snags, and is generally a pain to work with.  A little bit of soap, and you have tamed the beast!  I tried it out for the first time last night, and it works like a charm!

Thanks Oma!
That's German for Grandma.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pencil Skirt Pattern

I drafted my pattern, and it took me a good while.  First, I had to get used to measuring with the cm side of the tape, then my paper was too small.  (I have wide hips, so I need wide paper.)  I ended up using some old wrapping paper that just happened to have a one inch grid on the back.  Turns out, that's pretty handy!  It helped me keep everything square and looking nice.  I have not yet tried the pattern, but I plan on digging out my muslin later on, and checking the fit.  In any case, try the grid paper for pattern drafting.  It could save you some serious time and effort!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pencil Skirt Mania!

Well I've never been much for wearing skirts, but I love the way they look.  And I just found this site:  Why is this important?  Because there is an entire section on drafting your own pencil skirt pattern!  You better believe I'm trying this as soon as I get my hands on some suitable fabric.  Yum!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation in a Nutshell

  • Always take lots of caffeine, and when you find the energy shots you like, stock up!  They don't have them where you're going.  
  • Avoid the Pennsylvania turnpike.  And Pennsylvania drivers.
  • Avoid NY city at all costs.
  • Don't depend on your GPS - it doesn't know that construction will force you off of your route and into the Newark NJ airport.  Eek!
  • Try not to bother the people who live in the affluent, neighborhood-watched neighborhood where the things you're visiting are located.
  • Touristy hiking trails with amazing views of mansions and the ocean are best experienced early in the morning.  And you can get sunburn in October.
  • Graveyards are cool, but it helps to know what their hours are.
  • Restaurants are great, but it helps to know what their hours are.  Evidently, some places don't serve food between 2 and 5.  Weird.
  • It's best to stick to seafood and poultry when you're eating on the coast.  Burgers are better in the midwest.
  • Don't visit Salem in October.  It's a very cool place, but it's too busy during that time.
  • Beauport/Sleeper House was friggin amazing.  Who says you can't build secret stair cases and build your rooms out of doors?  This guy did it in the 20s!
  • The Marriott is a most excellent place to stay.  They CALLED ME to see if everything was to my liking!
  • If you want to take pictures at night, have a good flash, or other light.
  • It's impossible to take a picture of a white stone mausoleum in broad daylight of a woman with grey hair and have it turn out looking right.
  • There are very few street signs in New England towns.
  • Those streets will confuse the crap out of a GPS.
  • Packing a case of water with us was the best idea we've ever had.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Licensed to Sell: The Buttercup Bag

First and foremost, three day old chicken vindaloo is MUCH hotter than it was when you ordered it.  Never forget that.

As I sweat from the delicious heat of it, I wish to inform you all that I am now licensed to sell the lovely buttercup bag, designed by Rae Hoekstra.  I've linked you to her free pattern, but you should probably just buy one from me.  :D  You saw the fabric that inspired it.  I went in search for the perfect pattern to match my vision, and needless to say, this was it.  Have a look at the finished product:

I started the second one, with leftovers from Rachel's army green bag and owl fabric.  I hope to have that posted to my Etsy tonight, so keep an eye open!