Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom, Drink Your Gatorade!!!

I may have mentioned in another blog that I am caring for my mother who has Alzheimer's Disease. Early this Fall, she went through a period of off-and-on illness that was very puzzling. About three months ago now, she became ill. ...Just not feeling well, in addition to the ongoing increasing confusion, falling about every two weeks or so, and not being able to eat much, and a great deal of sleeping. With Alzheimer's, one is never quite sure just what is going on. It's like taking care of a baby. You know the baby is not well, but it's nearly impossible to discover what the problem is without taking the child to a doctor. Well, after several doctors visits, scans, and blood tests, it was determined that her electrolytes were off and she was dehydrated. The doctor prescribed Gatorade G2, which is excellent for replacing electrolytes, to replace her water requirement, and she slowly got better. She has not fallen in over a few months (as opposed to a few times a month for over a year!), does not "space out," and although the confusion is still present along with other Alzheimer's symptoms, she is doing a whole lot better. I can only feel that if she had been taking care of herself by not fighting her liquid intake, she would still be in robust health. Old people are tricky though, and my mom still hates to drink her daily fluids. She says she has to go to the bathroom all the time. She used to pour her water down the sink when I wasn't looking. Now, I use a drinking jug she can't figure out how to open so she has to drink it all! There is a twisted sort of humor to the situation!

One thing has stood out alarmingly for me, and I really want to share this loud and clear:

Drink enough fluids!

After many situations, some of which have been medically desperate, it became very clear to me that my mother's refusal to drink anything more than a minimal amount of water and other fluids over many years has caused her repeated health issues, and brought a lot of worry, fear and grief to her loved ones. ...And trips to the emergency room. Who knows what deficiencies were caused because of low fluid intake. I shudder to think about it! To make things more complicated, after about the age of 50, our sense of thirst diminishes, but not our need for fluids! Here is a link to a sight that discusses dehydration in detail. Take a few moments to visit them and read about this very important subject. You might even find that you are experiencing some of these symptoms and had no clue that you needed more fluids.

...And how much do you need to drink each day? Well, here is another link from the Mayo Clinic about that subject. So, go grab a glass of delicious water, ...and Cheers to you health!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More Fibula Pins!

I have been having fun this weekend. Creating is always fun. ...Sometimes frustrating, but all the more rewarding in the end. Last weekend, we all went to the Gem & Mineral Show at the fairgrounds. I bought a few beads and geodes, ...not much, but my intention was to dabble. Now, I really wish I had been far more indulgent, as I could make a few of these every day. Each one has its own character, and males me feel (in my own mind anyway) just the teeniest bit akin to great sculptors such a Michelangelo. Yeah, I know that's a stretch, but simply putting oneself into the position of taking a naturally beautiful thing and then attempting to co-create with it is awesome. Here is what I did....

I have already worn the Blue pin with my Jane Thornley Organic Wrap. It held it on and in place perfectly.
PS: I know I am just a beginner

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Think I Got Caught In A Time Warp

Where has this month gone? I am absolutely aghast that it is now at the end of the month, and we are ready to rush headlong into the holiday season. Saying that I have been busy is an understatement.I came up with yet another option for a shrug closure. I simply found a twig in the back yarn that needed pruning, and then trimmed it to the right length. After stripping the outer bark off, as well as scraping the green inner bark off too, I let it dry for a few days. Then, I shaped and smoothed it with sandpaper, added some stain and paint, and let it dry. I am able to easily push the twig into the stitches on each center front of the garment, and then slip a tie I created from icord with bead clusters on each end, over the ends of the twig. It looks very Oriental, somewhat Zen-ish, and adds a simple yet eloquent effect.
There is a new project on the needles now too. After buying some yarn that took my fancy a few months ago, and having a few frustrating tries to knit it into something, I almost gave up hope that it would come out looking like anything I wanted. The yarns outstanding feature was that it is cream with flecks of orange and green. Attempts to combine it with with those solid colors made me gag. Not to be daunted, I got crazy one day and just began adding in strips of yarn to the knitting, and leaving tails hanging everywhere. ...And I liked it! This project is a very simple top-down knit garment that is being designed as I go along. At this point, it is a cropped top, with a U-shaped neckline and rust picot edging trim at the dropped shoulder edge and around the hem, I plan to add length and do this in sampler panels of color and pattern, keeping it all as simple as possible.

This past weekend, was the annual Gem & Mineral Show. I haven't missed one in over 20 years now. I just love going and talking to the rockhounds, and getting to see and hold beautiful crystals from all over the world. This year, I was surprised to see ancient Chinese "Prayer Wheels." These are mostly small discs, with a few characters carved into the sides. They were traditionally placed into the graves of those departed loved ones, to give them an eternal prayer for happiness and good fortune on the other side. The vendor told me that plans for a new dam meant that many graves had to be moved. In the process, these prayer wheels were removed, and ended up being "available for sale." To put it as my husband said: "Some things aren't meant to be sold." I did not bring one of those home with me, but I did find several small geode pieces to make into more fibula pins. Here is the first one, which I made yesterday.

...And may the blessings remain with the ancestors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

...A Solution for the Shrug!

...Here is one solution to the shrug design balance and closure issue. The hardest part of making this pin was finding wire! I called every beading and jewelry making store in town, and either they were out, or just didn't have 16g copper wire on hand. I was about to order, when I just decided to give the smaller hardware stores a try. BINGO!!!! I found just what I was looking for at good old Ace Hardware. I watched this video from YouTube on making a wire fibula pin, which is perfect for getting a completely ignorant person started. The next hurdle was figuring out what to use as an anvil. About to head for the garden shed and draft a shovel into unusual use, My eye caught an antique iron that perches on my phone books in the kitchen, and turning it upside down, it became a perfectly good anvil to hammer the wire on with my household hammer. Obviously, I didn't let the lack of specialized jeweler tools stop me. It was pretty quick and easy, and there are such a variety of these fibula pins, that working from a basic design and adding embellishments is a breeze. Fibula pins are the first known "safety Pins." They date back to ancient Roman and Greek history, and perhaps even beyond that. They were utilized for holding pieces of cloth onto a person's body. Strangely, not much was known about cutting and sewing pieces of fabric together to fit. I can hardly imagine this, but maybe that came along after scissors were invented. I can also see reason in the preciousness of supplies and not having fabric waste.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When Things Don't Go According to the Plan...

....well, ya gotta make a new plan. My latest knitting project is just such an example of this. It is a pattern for a shrug that I actually began knitting late last winter, but set it aside because of the heat of Spring. A relatively simple pattern, it requires using more than one yarn at a time in order to blend adjoining colors together in a watercolor sort of way. "Ombre" its called. As a result, the fabric can become quite thick. This doesn't bother me, because I like a little extra warmth. All that is to the good. What happened is that the pattern is made up of rectangles, and not having a drop at the back of the neck, adding the final decorative, finishing touch, a wide band, caused the shoulder seam to move way to the back. It was enough to change the angle of drape and the side seams were pointing to the front. Yikes! The only thing I could do was a very narrow edging, four rows of garter that curled inward. This meant the decorative effect was completely lost, and the balance of design gone. Being such a simple piece, it needs a focus. Now it has none. So, back to the working stage, and I will add some focal interest. I have a plan!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Sold Something!

Yes I did! I am so excited that I can say this. This week, and it is not over yet, an old friend has been hostessing a home boutique featuring hand made items. Years ago, she had a store that was dedicated to heirloom sewing. After leaving that business, she now teaches out of her home studio, and once a year, she clears out the entire downstairs of her home to host this event. Last night, "ladies night out," and a chance to meet the artisans, was fabulous, and I had to keep checking to make sure my eyeballs were still in my head. There was just so much to see.

My friend, Barbara, of B3Fibers, took several skeins of hand spun yarn, and a number of the most whimsical tea cozies I have ever seen. I contributed several items of my own, and was thrilled to find that the scarf I named "Leaves & Dewdrops" had sold. Yippee!!! I am going to need to create a few more of these, as they are on my daughter-in-laws favorites list. I do have a few already knit, but they do need their decorations of bead conglomerates. So, here's hoping that my little green creation will find a loving home, and be a frequent adornment of someone's neck. Goodbye and good fortune "Leaves & Dewdrops!"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yesssss, ...I Have Been Called A "Witch"

It was years ago, actually. ...A man I met who was suffering from Carpel Tunnel was complaining and I offered to help him with acupressure. A few minutes later, his pain was gone, and he blurted those words out. At the time, I was horrified and hoped that no-one else heard. Most of the time, people just think I am nuts. They can believe in needles stuck and twisted into their bodies, because it somehow seems like they have to suffer through it, but a gentle and pleasant touch, ...that they enjoy? There is just no redemption in that, so they don't know what to make of me! Now, I am just amused and take the comments in stride. I love my work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Used to Hate My Serger....

Years ago, in another lifetime, I spent 14 years working as head dressmaker for the North American office of the Burda Pattern Company, sewing model garments for trade shows. I loved the job, working from home while I raised my three sons. I got to assist at fashion shows, as well as getting all the Burda patterns and magazines I wanted. Working with the best of fabrics was really a plus too, though I had to force myself to get over the fear of cutting into some of the really precious ones that came my way. Anyway, when sergers came out for home sewing, Burda sent me one to use, and frankly, I was horrified. I was such a purist back then, thoroughly schooled in the Bishop Method as I majored in Textiles and Design back in college. ...Ya gotta know there were proper ways to finish seams for crying out loud!

Since then, so many fashion rules have been broken, and as there is an evolution for all things, so has my approach to sewing changed. I am discovering that the forlorn little serger that was banned to the recesses of the cl
oset for some 20 odd years (but I can never toss things out...) is now one of my simple pleasures. I really enjoy the time I spend now, serging odd shapes of fabric together and designing garments as I go. Its like the old Crazy Quilts I used to adore, and I have found a lot of artistry in the freedom it allows me. This past week, I have been eyeballing a piece of gray jersey, and making sketches, and Saturday, I had cut pieces ready to sew. By the end of the day, I had a new tunic to wear with a little Zen-like topper I had created a few weeks ago. Then, as another idea hit me, I made myself a ragged necklace out of the piece of fabric that was left-over.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Tan on Tan is Finished!

Done after what seemed too much deliberating, here is the new cowl...

Based in the shape of a triangle, it is a series of triangles that fade into each other through blending the yarn.

I love garments like this with generous fabric and fit. I also like things to be feminine but not fussy. Practical not excessive and stroppy. (That's a new word I just learned! Isn't is a fun word? ...Look it up.) Now, that's not to say that a pair of earrings are not practical. They serve a purpose if they fill in the artistic balance of a look. It could also serve to draw attention to the face, or accentuate a hairstyle. I rarely wear earrings and a necklace at the same time. It seems too overdone and like adding too much frosting to the cake. I want people to admire the "cake" and not the frosting on the cake. Garments and accessories should bring out the best of the wearer, not overshadow the wearer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tan on Tan on Tan

I am knitting a new cowl. I adore cowls and I think they are just so practical. I could have a hundred of them and would probably want more. This is one I started as a knitalong project for Ravelry's Jane Thornley group. Our requirement is that the project be based on a triangle. I am also using this project as a stash buster, and I was more than surprised that a couple skeins of a ribbon yarn that is terrible to knit with and never seemed to go with any other yarn, works perfectly in this family of browns. Because this is supposed to be a quickie project, I am using it as a carry-along yarn throughout. ...The better to help it blend in, and blend the other yarns into the mix. It makes for a chunky yarn and with large needles it knits up quickly. I am now at a point where I can be a little nervous about my dwindling yarn remnants, and whether they will last long enough to allow me to knit to my plan. ...It would be nice, but is life ever that easy?


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Views On Being An Artisan

Taking another look at this clothing phenomenon of up-cycling, deconstructing, reconstructing clothing in ways that seems like the designer is on acid…
It appears that this is also dubbed the “Indie” style of design, which refers to the DIY culture of crafter/creators that are independent of bigger business, often selling from street fairs or etsy. Usually they are eco-smart and using recycled clothing with an unusual flair for combining patterns and fabrics that is reminiscent of my grandmother’s house, and it’s almost droll combination of unrelated patterns and colors.
Some are saying that this is a resurgence of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 1900’s. Yes, we have moved away from the handcrafting things that we use, as well as growing and preparing he foods that we eat. I think that the more we are in touch with nature and the creation of what we require is a good philosophy to live by. I deplore mass-consumerism, and the mediocrity it results in. I am truly disgusted with what I see in the stores now, …sleazy and poorly made clothing and shoes, and tasteless packaged prepared meals that we kill the nutrition of even further by throwing them into the microwave. Although the American Arts and Crafts Movement advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship, as well as using simple shapes, it was also paired with a political viewpoint of Progressivism. Well, here we are, we hear it every day. ...What I can’t see is how Socialist political views are attached to artistry and craftsmanship, when they clearly ignore the individual artisan in favor of large labor forces, ergo mass-production and mediocrity, which means accepting surrounding ourselves with clutter that gives us no real satisfaction.
I like the idea of being an "Indie" designer and craftswoman. I get enormous satisfaction from creating from scratch, whether it is the meal I prepare for my family, or the clothes on our backs, and the decor of my home, I know I can feel proud of what I have accomplished.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"THE " Jacket

No ordinary piece of clothing, this jacket of mine has led many lives. It began it's first life in the 80's when Don Johnson starred on Miami Vice, and his scruffy face and casual linen jacket were all the rage. One of my sons wanted a linen jacket, and so that is how "THE" jacket came home with us. He quickly outgrew it, and the jacket fell out of fashion, as the hard rock era and its demonic and gore style emerged. Being a fabric snob, there was no way I would ever get rid of a linen jacket, and after several years of gathering dust in a closet, I got it out and narrowed the shoulders. ( The 80's had crazy wide shoulders.) Then, one day when my granddaughter was 3 years old, I got the idea that we ought to paint it together. ...And that is what we did. It was a blast! Flowers, smiley faces, Ohms, circles, hearts, an engagement ring and a rocket ship, in many shades of metallic and sparkly fabric paint, all found a place on "THE" jacket. It became my most beloved and frequently worn garment for the next 20 years, and it got the compliments nearly every time I wore it. A few times over the years, I found it necessary to do some touch up painting. Last year, I noticed that there were a few places where heavy use had left some edges fraying. No problem! I used satin ribbon to re-face the neck edge and the tops of the pockets. I also had to cover the sleeves where the rolled up cuff hem was. Then, three weeks ago I washed it again. As it was being pressed, I noticed to my shock that the fabric itself was now beginning to give out. Looking at it made me so sad that I had to put it away for days while I racked my brain as to what course I would take this time, and would it be worthwhile. Well, I missed my jacket! ...and the decision was made that any course of action was definitely worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Old Pair of Jeans Gets a Facelift Resurection ...or Too Much Is Never Enough!

I have an old pair of Lee jeans. They fit perfectly. They are so soft and comfortable that I live in them. They are several years old now. They have been patched with iron-on patches to help keep them together at the seams, but now, the fabric is getting so thin that it has given way over one knee, and the crotch is shredding apart, ...and I am not ready to give them up even though I hesitate to wear these jeans anywhere out of the house now for fear of a blow out that would certainly leave me facing public humiliation. I have devised a few plans to deal with this possibility. One solution has been to iron patches on the underside, ...and patch, ...and patch, order to give the illusion that they are still new and wearable. I suspect that I am only fooling myself. Another solution is to wear a mini-skirt over the jeans to provide decency in case of a rip out.

Yesterday, I got the new September issue of Elle in the mail. Lots of jeans! Some even had patches featured, and got me to thinking of my quilting days and fascination with patchwork embroidery. It has such a rich history, and Victorian times provided a height of embellishment. The Victorians must have had a philosophy of "too much is never enough!" There has never been as much popularity in ripped up jeans as there is now. My grandson won't buy a pair unless it is properly ripped, and it's a happy day when the hem gets caught by the bicycle chain and it bites a chunk out. For myself, however, I prefer a less chewed up, grubby style.
Anyway, my old jeans need revival. I plan to share the transformation with you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Creating Aruba in a Necklace

Barnacles, Bubbles & Pearls in a Fisherman's Net

First of all, I have never been there, but I loved seeing photos of the clean white sandy beaches and the beautiful greenish tint to the coastal waters of Aruba. Now that the sweater has been finished, and I am eagerly waiting for the weather to get cooler so I can wear it, I am faced with how to companion it. Challenged with redesigning my wardrobe, I look into the closets and drawers and see nothing! It seemed a natural turn that because one of the knit-a-long requirements (that I imposed on myself as well as everyone else), is that the knit creation have embellishment. Well, sometimes a piece of art just needs to be kept simple. SO, I decided to be complete with the knitting. However, not quite satisfied, I took a notion to accessorize with a necklace. Never having been one to hesitate doing something because I never tried it before, I jumped in fully committed. Although I have experimented at beading simple strings of jewelry, as just about everyone else has, I have never done something encrusted with beads. The necklace became like a project I have seen in Belle Armoire, a beautiful magazine for bead crafters. This necklace has been daunting. Just a jewelry dabbler, I have to learn, or create ways, to put this together that has had me researching throughout the process.

The inspiration concept that was my beginning point was that of a fisherman's net. Using some old corks saved form a celebration deeming champagne, I cut the corks in two, shaped them into beads and drilling holes. Then, I knit a net of silver metallic crochet cord. and attached the cork "floats." I attached the ends of the silver net to a chain, and began the process of encrusting the piece with barnacles of seed beads, shell palettes, irregular pearls, and silver and glass beads.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The End. ...Or is it?

"SMILE" the final challenge.

The Bootcamp has been fun. I have not had the support of actually accomplishing it along with the others, as I discovered it a few days after it had started, and I had to wait a few more days to get my thoughts together. Working along by myself has been interesting because it is only a contract with myself, after all, and it has been my choice whether or not I finish. I have certainly planned to, in spite of delays of all sorts. What I have noticed is that there is a strong connection with Spirit, and the desire to move forward prevails and each day accomplished has motivated me to do the next. Now, I am seeing each day as things accomplished rather than things I have not done. Each day has a bit of creative excitement that keeps the connection thriving, in directions other than just the challenge for that day. So, even with the delays that were encountered, I find that I have created and finished several more projects in addition to the challenges, and I don't feel the least bit guilty about those delays. After all, creativity is where one finds it, and it is in the moment.
And I am smiling! Look at all the things I have created. So what if it took me over a month instead of 13 days? If I had been doing just photography as the other mostly did, it would have been 13 days. However, I was knitting, cooking, sewing, making jewelry, taking photos, blogging, and designing more, more, more in addition to housework and business "to-dos." So, how am I coming along? I am, really I am. It's just that I am doing so many things. I get inspired frequently now by the really great stuff that comes my way. It may be a photo I see, or some profound words, or a bit on the news, or the Bootcamp pages, or someone else's blog. Lately there are so many creative inspirations flying at me from all directions. It makes me feel like I am about to start a race and here I am at the starting line waiting for the shot to signal me to dash forward into yet another exciting creation.

Creativity Bootcamp Day 12

Creativity Bootcamp Day 12

The days challenge is the theme "SMOOTH"

So what is smooth? Something like a smoothie?

Smoothies are so simple and so delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day. Our temps have been close to 100 F on both sides this past week. So this tall cool one really hit the spot. First, I cut up fruit into small chunks so that they puree in the blender easily. I like to use ripe bananas as the foundation and add other fruit to this. For each person, I take 1/2 frozen banana, and a handful of other fruits. This one has yummy ripe peach slices added in, but strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits are great too. I add about 1/2 cup of juice (not too sweet as this is already very sweet, I used Gojiberry this time, but like apple cider too), and perhaps a few ice cubes and blend on high speed, sometimes adding a little bit of water if its too thick.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 11

Creativity Bootcamp Day 11


I knew exactly what I would do the moment I read this challenge word. It took a few days to put together, but part of the hush was that I had to do this without the hubby's knowing. Silly really, but I have recycled a pair of old flannel lounge pants and also an old cotton T-shirt. The pants were shredded apart at the center back seam, and beyond any repair short of placing a giant patch up the back.

I cut the legs off his freshly washed pants and cut them into strips along with the
shirt, and then tied the strips together to create strippon yarn.

Knitted up loosely on large needles, and a fast project, this deep cowl is soft and warm.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aruba is Done!

The Aruba Beach sweater is now off the needles! Done! Although the original plans were to embellish the sweater with beads, I like it as is. So, plans have changed, and I am currently thinking of designs for a necklace to wear with it. I also see this with a long tan tunic top, a short or long tube skirt, tights or leggings, and boots (not the nylon undergarment and white jeans). ...Stylin'!

This creation is the result of a knit-a-long conceived on Ravelry's Jane Thornley group. We were asked to come up with a summer travel destination, and re-create it in a project. Thinking beaches, I found an image of the beautiful white sand and greenish-blue waters of Aruba. I used Jane's Scotian Meadow Wrap pattern as a starting
point, and then switched stitching and turned a ragged rectangle into a sweater with long sleeves.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

...On Clearing Clutter

I know I am not the only person to have this problem. I have a lot of clutter. ...Now I feel like I am in an AA meeting, and it is pretty much the same thing. I know my method of handling my stuff is like an addiction. I know I am going to take it in hand and change, and it may not be the easiest thing I have ever done. Why have I come to this public announcement? ...Because maybe it will help someone else, and knowing that I have outed myself will help keep me on track.

In the past three days, I have discovered something I want to share. I discovered Louise Hay on YouTube. I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. Anyway, her series of ten videos on You Can Heal You Life. I am big on body awareness, and her videos made me feel better. Right from the first "I love you!" on Day 1, I felt lighter and freer. Day 2 was amazing. I felt so good that I set ten tasks that I wanted to do that day just because I love myself. The tasks I chose were things that have been hanging over me for a long time. They ranged from clearing off a comfy chair in my office, to taking care of sticky note actions (that have been on the face of my pc for the past week), to fun things like taking time to knit. I got eight of the ten done, and that was great because I got several other things done that had just popped up. On Day 3, I listed the two remaining tasks and added 8 more. ...And guess what? I did eight out of ten and the two remaining were the same two! They both had to do with clutter.

For a long time, I have been agonizing over piles of clutter. My results were not that surprising to me, but what is there to be done about this dilemma? I have had a mix of fun and work,…Very light on the work. I have read books, watched the TV shows, and challenged myself before, and I know there is a solution! So, I asked myself: "How can I look at this in a different way?" When I look at the clutter task at hand, I feel lost, and it seems overwhelming when I look at it, just too much.

Here is what I have come up with in terms of each of the reasons that come up as I ask this:
  • I don’t know where to put it ...Have a plan in mind before beginning. Example: I bought several plastic file boxes at the dollar store for saving old tax papers, which went into the attic.
  • There is so much to sort! ...Don’t mix things in the first place (I have a tendency to put stuff on top of other stuff)
  • How do I sort all this? ...Have a container for tossing out, one for saving what I think is mostly there, and make piles of the rest.
  • Where do I begin? ...If the mess is contained, as in a box, remove the box to an organized place (as in bedroom floor) and attack it there. It won’t be amplified by surrounding mess, and each sort will look like a neat stack. Then, each neat stack can be dealt with appropriately, and this is how you are to think of it. …Not “I am going to get rid of it all.” This implies an all or nothing approach that is defeating from the beginning

Here are a few other thoughts I have had that I believe to be helpful:

  1. Take before and after photos so that I can relish the positive change!
  2. Give myself the “I love me” talk before, during, and after the task
  3. Have a solid benefit in mind of what each task will provide before beginning, as well as the “after” image in mind, and remind myself of it as I work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 10

Creativity Bootcamp Day 10

"Full Bodied"
Definition: robust, concentrated, fruity, full-flavored, heady, heavy, lusty, mellow, potent,strong, well-matured,redolent, rich

Does this speak something yummy? Something like the most delectable blueberries I found at the store. So, I know what I will do today! They just called out to be a pie!

Well, pie was made and eaten! Sorry no pie photo, unless you want to see our purple tongues.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 8 ...again

Creativity Bootcamp Day 8

So, finally back on track and only a few challenges away from completion. Day 8's challenge is "ornament." Struggling with not enough knowledge (I just dabble at jewelry making), I did a bit of research on what others have used for stringing, and it's still a hard decision to make. I am aiming for something with no shape of its own. The LBS recommends fine nylon. I just don't like nylon. Back in the 60-70's when everyone was stringing beads, we had something called tiger tail and it always broke. However, there was not that much available back then. I tried other stuff like nylon, but hated the results of everything I used. Now, here I am again, faced with the same issue, but now there are a gazillion products out there that promise perfect results. Sure. However, I have great hopes for the Power Pro string I bought. I am learning new tricks with my creation. Dabbler that I am, this excites me. I want results that look high quality and professional.In the meantime, I just did these danglers, while I figure out the others.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 9 ....Grumble, grumble.....


OK, I have gotten behind with the bootcamp big time! Well, I have not been totally off track though. With preparation for the Fourth of July and long weekend and everyone home 24/7, I had my hands full. Life is like that and we just do the best we can. Being a rather practical person, I like to make moments count and I just can't do something because it is something to do. Tomorrow(?), I will tackle Day 8 (ornament) , the jewelry stringing issue head on, and intend to be back knocking out projects and getting to the finish line with the bootcamp. ...After all, it's only a few more days! I have come too far to quit now! However, there is one thing that requires my attention today, and that is making a cake for 30 people. It's my mother's birthday, and I am taking cake to the senior center she has been going to for a few hours each weekday for nearly two years now.

I make my cakes from scratch. Always have. Its not that hard to do, and the end result is so worth it.
This one is Boston Cream Pie. ...and guess what?!!! Bootcamp Day 9's challenge is "Drizzle." That certainly sounds like chocolate glaze topping on the cake! I plan to cut the cupcakes in half and spread a filling, replace the top and add chocolate glaze. Here is the recipe I followed. It's a petty good one, but I think the cakes are a little too dense. The one thing that really made me crazy was the way measurements were listed. I like to see a list of ingredients that tells me ALL I need of one thing. This had the ingredients broken up between the cake, filling and glaze, but had no separations that made me think about that. I also like to see separate sections for each part, not listed as the next step. Anyway, they are done now, and ready to go to the center for devouring. Thank goodness!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 8

Creativity Bootcamp Day 8

An obvious solution for the "ornament" challenge is jewelry! This is almost too easy, as I have been thinking on a new pair of earrings for a few weeks now. It almost feels like cheating, as I didn't have to wrack my brain over what I could do. However, it makes up for Day 7's challenge that took me a few days to figure out before it came in like a lightning bolt. Sometimes though, even a simple thing can take on aspects of complexity. Dabbler that I am, I have tried using carpet thread for a few past projects that I wanted to dangle and have freedom of movement. After a few wears, the thread has stretched. so, I made a quick stop at the nearby bead store to make inquiries about what I ought to use to get this limp noodley result. What I was told was to use a nylon thread. It looks just like that nasty stuff that they used to sew into garments and the ends would poke out mercilessly attacking any skin within reach. I already tried some of that stuff years ago. It doesn't hold up well against wear, breaking easily. So, I am paused, once again looking for a solution.

In the meantime, I have been working on the Aruba sweater. The front is finished now.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pink Ruffles and Shabby Chic

Several years ago, when I bought a queen bed, I made a duvet cover for my feather comforter, using an abundance of very old green and white cotton seersucker, cut into squares. I purchased a set of pink and white striped twin sheets, which I cut into squares and strips, and sewed them all together. Teaming this duvet with a set of pink sheets and some additional green bordered pillowcases made for a beautiful combination. However, while folding my clean sheets last week, I noticed that my pink pillowcases were becoming frayed along the edges. ...Yes, I must have had my glasses on at that moment, or it would have passed unnoticed. This fraying did not have me tossing them out and making a mental note to go shopping. With lots of wear left in the sheets, I certainly wanted to extend the use of the cases. Here is where not throwing anything away can pay off! Instead, I got out the sewing machine and remnants of fabric and made them new again.

Here is how I did this (Please pardon some of the photos that came out on the dark side)...

1. Cut the hems off your cases at the stitching.

2. Then, cut a strip of your ruffle fabric that is about 1.5 inches wider than your hem measurement.

A nicely flouncing ruffle is achieved by using the rule of thumb of cutting the strip 1.5 times longer than the edge you are sewing it to. For a very flouncy look, be more generous. Mine follows the rule of thumb.

3. Hem one edge of the ruffle strip, by turning 1/4 inch to the wrong side and pressing it flat. Then, turn it again, so that the raw edge is hidden, and press again.

4. On the opposite edge of your ruffle, run gathering stitches. This is done by sewing with the right side up, and having two rows of stitching, about 1/4 inch from the edge, and again 1/4 inch away from the first row. Gathering stitches will be the longest straight stitch setting on your machine.

5. After you have done the gathering stitches, then mark your ruffle by pinning each end as it lies flat. Then, match up the two pins, and lay it flat again. This will give you another halfway marker, dividing it into quarters.

Mark your pillow case edges in the same way.

6. Now, match up the markers and pin the ruffle to the case. Match the seam of the ruffle to the seam of the pillow case, and make sure that the right side of the ruffle is facing down against the right side of the case. The stitches that are viewable to you will then be gathered up by pulling the same ends of each set of rows, simultaneously, so that they will pull in evenly. Work slowly, and arrange the gathers so that they are evenly distributed between the pins. Be sure that the gathers are not so tight that they are tighter than the case.

7. Finally! Sew your ruffle to the case, with your stitching line just above the 1/2 inch gathering row, using a normal stitch length. This row of stitching is between the two gathering rows. Then, use an overcast or zig-zag stitch to finish the raw edges. Now, you can pull out the gathering stitch row that is outside all the stitching. Trim the thread ends, and turn and press your ruffle seam toward the casing side.

8. The final step! Do a row of edge-stitching, which is simply a row of normal size stitches, that are very close to the seam, or about 1/8 inch away on the casing side. This will hold the seam in place on the inside and keep a crisper look.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 7

Creativity Bootcamp Day 7
We are talking "Fly" for Day 7. It gave me pause, yet you can see that I have not been slacking. Then, out of the "blue" came an idea from the blog of my friend, Jocerane, in France. She suggested starting a tale of a traveling blue oak leaf, and I thought "Perfect!" So, to compliment her blog, here is my tale of the Little Blue Oak Leaf (leaf recycled from an envelope I received in the mail!):

The Little Blue Oak Leaf was caught into the winds and flew hither and thither, not knowing where it would land, or what condition it would be in when it did. Poor little leaf! Finally, in a furious storm in the dead of night, it felt itself caught and held fast. Exhausted, it fell fast asleep. When it awoke with the first rays of dawn, it knew a terrible dread! It was held fast in the jaws of a ferocious dragon.

Oh the terror it felt! Poor little leaf. Yet, as the dragon awoke, he gave a great yawn, and the little leaf lost no time in catching his escape on a breeze that nearly drowned him in a birdbath. Luck, however, was with him, and he was caught and saved by the fairy who inhabited the birdbath who fortunately was taking her morning splash.
This kindly fairy gently set it down with some of it's distant relatives, the Pin Oak leaves of South Carolina. The Little Blue Oak Leaf had flown all the way across the Atlantic Ocean!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 6

Creativity Bootcamp Day 6


"The Hurrier I Go the Behinder I Get..."
One thing about posting to the public, you can't hide getting off-track. I admit it, I have fallen behind on the Bootcamp. I am still working on it, in my mind, but other things have jumped in as priorities. It all to the good. Why? ...Because it is all part of the process. If something I am doing gives me some inspirational burst that takes me into another direction for a moment, that is just who I am. I am certainly capable of focusing and doing one thing at a time, but occasionally, our journeys present us with opportunities that are fleeting and must be grasped at that very moment or they will dissipate and be gone. I like to take those opportunities. For instance, In the past few days, rather than follow the Bootcamp on a day by day basis, I have found the needed inspiration to continue with a knitting project I was in limbo with. Decisions, ...decisions. It was all about fluidity. This is my inspiration photo, a beach in Aruba...

I was stumped over the yarn progression. I began with linen, cotton, and some blends. Then, as I got into the blue-greens of the water, I went into mohair and wool. The texture annoyed my sensibilities. I didn't care for how the well-defined stitches morphed into furry blurry. It was lacking in fluidity. As this project is planned to be a sweater, it seemed that more consistency was needed. So, ...
What happened? Well, I became aware of a fiber artist (more on her later!) using fabric strips in an incredible way, and it inspired me to use more of my own. My problem is that my amazingly huge fabric stash has never come out of the boxes since I moved into this house eight years ago! My lack of organization has many reasons from long illness, mother moving in, daughter-in-law moving in, both moving out, surgery (all better now!), mother moving back in, etc., etc. As I am doing very little sewing, I had no real reason to unpack. Recently however, I have been wanting to sew again, and this recent exposure was decisive. So, I have been put to the task of unpacking and storing fabrics in a shelving unit. I am thrilled! This is a huge organizing leap forward for me. ...And it might not have happened without the bootcamp!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Creativity Bootcamp Day 5

Creativity Bootcamp Day 5 "But as artists, how can we express the world as we see it if we are not feeling it on a deeply emotional level?" ...Exactly! That is just what I was feeling yesterday with the Heavy Metal assignment! I didn't FEEL it, so I had no desire to express it creatively. No guilt at all! Today however, I felt this one: Grow. I like to grow things. Especially herbs, but I don't have a very green thumb. What does grow well for me is devoured by the insect population. As I have an aversion to using herbs that have been toxified by pesticides, there is not much harvesting. Oh well. So I guess you could say I putter at gardening. My yard really has too much shade, and what grows best here is moss. You have seen it before in some of my previous blogs. So, I have to say all I grew here was the sprig of mint peeking out of the top of the recycled flower pot (lined with clear wrap because the pot probably has lead or something in it). Anyway, just a fun way to serve a refreshing treat of watermelon.