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Friday, March 25, 2011

Bartering! (Shirt VS Bag) - Continued 2

Struggling with this pattern yet again, I'm really feeling something got left out of the directions, which is decidedly annoying.  My finished (so far) product has the correct bottom & top widths, but incorrect height.  What is left to add will not make up the 4 3/4" that is missing!!!  What the hell?!  I mean honestly people, if a pattern has been published you would think it would have been tested by more than just the designer.  *fumes*  I do not like looking inept at my art but this seriously makes me feel like I'm a dunce that I keep screwing this up.

Needless to say, the original estimate on yarn needed was 5 skeins.  However due to the severe amount of technical difficulties involved I will not be buying the remaining 4 at one time but rather get the remaining one at a time because I feel that that estimate will likely be off... many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bartering! (Shirt VS Bag) - Continued 1

Ever been working on a project and get the feeling that it doesn't look right?  Yea, I did and while staring at the meager 2 inches of fabric I'd produced thus far (I've been taking a lot of breaks on this and working on other things) I got the feeling that it wasn't quite right.  Frankly I think I misread the directions - which have areas of fuzziness in them to me - and that honestly might be the issue.  So I frogged the shirt down to the foundation chain.

Starting from scratch...*sigh*...but if it's better and more correct, it's well worth it. many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mirror for Amaterasu - Part 1

I once commented to a non-artist about art saying:  "Art isn't meant to be perfect, it's simply meant to be."  I liked the quote so much that I even went so far as to add it to my Facebook for awhile.

While working on a piece I felt as a devotee I should do I came across the issue of struggling with my desire for things to be "just so" and just letting them be.

At the moment I am participating in a Goddess Workshop and our first round was with Amaterasu - Japanese sun goddess.  One of Her symbols is the mirror and I thought that it would be neat to take sun/fire colors and make a mirror for Her.  At first I balked at the idea of doing it completely from scratch, wanting to have it "perfect".  So I intentionally put it off.  But as we've moved on from Her to the next session - with The Muses - I am reminded again of the endeavor.  I added it to my list of projects and opted to give it a test go today even to see if I could work it out.

Frustatedly did I consult my math whiz of a boyfriend about dimensions, originally wishing to make a bagua style mirror (which actually is a Feng Shui symbol and thereby originally Chinese) with equal sized triangles.  I was informed that all 8 of them would not be the same size.  At that point I threw that idea out the window - much to his chagrin as he'd been working calculations for a estimated size.  Then I opted to try a trapezoid believe it to be easier.

Boy was I fooled!

My first one, while not perfectly, in lines on the glass looked pretty good.  That all went to hell when I actually cut the glass and it skewed the original lines *argh!*  At that point I considered giving up the endeavor altogether before I took the time to attempt to measure and cut anymore glass.  Then my quote rang in my ears and I decided that as a personal devotional piece perfection was not a requirement.  It was the inspiration, the thought, the meaning behind it rather than the finished product that I should be concerned with.  So long as it conveyed the meaning to me that I wished it to the Goddess would be pleased.

With that thought in mind I went ahead and finished out my remaining 7 pieces, cutting deliberately willy nilly and not worrying about exact size, just so long as it was approximate (a 3" base for each trapezoid and about a 1" top, with the sides close to 2").

As for now I'm taking a break (no pun intended) as I have no mirror on which to mount the stained glass.  Nor have I decided exactly how I want it attached.  (I'm considering having the mirror as a top layer and the pieces set on the back and hanging it from the wall, but am unsure as I've never mounted stained glass to something else.)

Glass Choices many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Thoughts on Sewing by Hand...

When I was a little girl my mother instilled in me that I "could not use her sewing machine until I could sew like I wanted to by hand."  This was a source of frustration to me because of course as anyone knows who has sewn with a machine and by hand, the former is faster.  I also associated it with looking "more professional" and being sturdier.  Now while the latter may be true I was thinking about the former more closely as I sat on the couch working to finish my latest creation by hand (since my sewing machine is on strike again.)

The concept of it being "more professional" implies that it can only be done "right" if it's done with a machine.  Really though, that's a ridiculous notion as any artist or crafter who knows their art can be considered a professional at it and many, including myself, would rather resent the implication that because it was handmade it wasn't professional.

What really is the look you receive is "manufactured".  A machine isn't supposed to make errors, it's consistent, and so long as it's built/programmed correctly it remains that way.  Wear and tear after awhile can cause issues, but they are less fallible than people are.  Looking at my stitches I notice the line is not straight, and the space between stitches are uneven, but that's the human part of the equation coming through.  It doesn't mean it's poorly made, as that can happen with a machine just as easily.  It just doesn't look the same, and the "look" to duplicate what a machine does is highly inefficient when done solely by hand.  (That is the closeness and double-sidedness of the stitching, and other "complicated" techniques.)

But to defend all that is handmade, there is a certain quaintness to it.  An air that can never be duplicated by something the mass makes the same thing over and over again.  Things that are handmade are often "imperfect" and thereby unique.  There are little quirks in the design that came through it's construction.  For those who want to blend and be like everyone else mass manufactured has it's appeal.  Nowadays it's a status symbol to have stuff made like that.  But once long ago, pre-Industrial Revolution (eg before the 18th century), things were made by hand solely.  Tools, as with knitting and weaving, were used, but not the complex monstrosities that exist in factories today.  Things were expensive by even that times' standards because many things took large amount of effort and time on behalf of the artist or crafter.  Materials were much more limited in availability and design and took more effort and money to get.  There were also more limitations on what you could get - color and what something was made of - depending on your resources, area, and means.  But don't get me wrong, industrialization isn't all bad, it's afforded us a great many conveniences that most of us would be quite lost without.  However the trade up is that we seem to have lost appreciation for what we are buying and what it took to provide it.  I would certainly be curious to know the difference in cost between a silk shirt made pre-Industrial Revolution and one made nowadays; as well as the difference in construction/means of production and geographical availability. many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Bartering...Reiki Awakening Logo: Part 2

Like a good little artist we decided to start the project where cross stitch is supposed to be started, in the center (this ensures that your piece is centered which is important when you go to have it framed!)  That being the case we started with the lettering and we're quite pleased with it.  Although it's funny that the "text" looks much smaller in real life than on our program.

Altogether I'm personally not a fan of backstitching, and while I understand it's purpose I like a full cross stitched letter more.  Though in this case the purpose of the backstitching was to downplay the word so it didn't take away from the name that would be under it - which I feel was successful :D. 

I think this was a great color choice and am much more pleased with the look of her name than I'd been when first choosing the "font". many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

More Bartering...Reiki Awakening Logo: Part 1

If you didn't know, as well as being an artist I'm also a healer and teacher.  A fellow Reiki Master who I consider both a friend and mentor had a class she was offering that I desperately wanted to take.  Working for myself from home funds are limited still (though I'm working on my positive thinking and manifestation and making progress).  I asked how she felt about a trade at the point that I found out I couldn't pay her - stoopid IRS eating my tax refund :( - and she was fine with it.

As I love doing my art in some cases I'm not overly attached to it, so long as it goes to a good home and to someone who appreciates it, parting with it isn't a big deal.  Granted I like to be paid, I tend towards covering my expenses and making a small fee (usually intuitively chosen) rather than charging for my time.  Besides I think if I added all of that together my prices would be ridiculous because what artist would want to work for minimum wage?!

So I offered her whatever she wanted, so long as the supplies didn't greatly exceed what she wanted for her class (which in most cases they don't) and we ended up talking about a logo for her Reiki business.  I'd been wanting to design one for her and had some inspiration so straight away got to work on it.  What I came up with was simple but I think classy.  I had a few orders come in via my main store and was able to purchase the supplies all in town (rather than ordering offline and waiting) and paid less than I could have otherwise, which was great.

I've been "diligently" working on it though it's all in cross stitch and you can imagine how long THAT is taking (though for all this effort I think it'll look great when I'm done)!

My Floss Choices
(so far so good with them, although I will likely try colors for the "red" hues that are closer together next time)

Aida Cloth
(not my original color choice but what was immediately available) many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Bartering! (Shirt VS Bag)

from March 17, 2011 - originally posted @ Faith Works' Blog

Recently I tasked my Sewing Goddess to make me a messenger bag. It's a case of, I would do it myself, but not really and well I love her work so much I'd much rather her do it! So being that we are both artists I offered a trade of one crafted piece for another and asked her what she wanted.

*dramatic pause*

A shirt...

I could have been daunted, as I've never made an actual "garment" (eg something you put on rather than an accessory), but I find the challenge interesting...

Being the pattern hoarder that I am (I will keep a copy of any pattern that seems even remotely interesting to me in design whether I have immediate plans for it or not) I had a number of "shirts" that could be made, all of them crocheted. I let her choose and that was an adventure in itself because I had at least 20 to choose from. She finally settled on this cute little crop top halter with a beaded fringe (although the beads are hard to see in the picture I sent).

Then came the hard part...choosing a color. After slaving away trying to find the yarn that the written pattern copy I'd seen called for and failing, I finally found something similar. However being the exacting type of artist, or rather artisan, I am I wanted to see the actual yarn used. Knowing from past experiences that substituting could be fun, but also "dangerous" to one's piece I figured for my first foray I would play it safe. I finally find it, again thanks to the internet and am appalled at the boring and otherwise *ew* colors. Almost all pastels and a few bright shades and totally about 15 choices. EW! I showed them to her, she chose one, but despite it being her choice from what I'd asked her about what color she wanted it didn't seem to fit. Consulting a foreign LYS to me I found another option (as well as a slew on Ravelry that "might" work because they were similar fiber & weight) I come across the lovely "Butterfly" by Kertzer. That's all fine and good if it weren't for the 12.50 + tax/skein price. (I wanted to keep our price ranges similar, so that neither of us was "breaking the bank".) I relented and decided to go with her choice of the original, but had yet to click the "buy now"...I wanted to try one more option - my own favorite LYS, The Yarn Lounge....

Going there yesterday for a day of yarning and what ended up being a "car picnic" I chanced to ask Melanie about substituting, giving her the weight, gauge, and fiber content. While there was no Egyptian Cotton, there was a lovely Peruvian Pima cotton and with much better shade selections - including a gorgeous dark blue called Caneel Bay. I was in love and knew that this should be what I used for her shirt and it wasn't so costly as to make it not worthwhile, even with having to buy 5 skeins instead of 3...

So we're excited to have started this shirt after doing a partial gauge swatch (we really do hate swatches and rebel at doing entire ones). The color is lovely and better suited we think to the person it's for, and it's also lovely to work with!

You can check out our piece on Facebook here. Feel free to friend us & "Like" the store! And if you see anything you like we take commissions! :D

Happy Crafting,
Aradia many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Derby's Crochet Hook Case

from March 18, 2011 - originally posted @ Faith Works' Blog

In honor of my other half and my return to the land of crafting I decided to try my hand again at making a crochet hook case. My initial case was made for yours truly and without regard to any directions, therefore it's not quite up to par. However, kudos to me, I actually paid attention this time and constructed it as directed. Needless to say it looks conceptually much better, although my fabric choice is odd so it is "full of character"! Perhaps now that I have made one more successfully some will pop up in the store....stay tuned! many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Sewing Machine Issues - Funny

from March 18, 2011 - originally posted @ Faith Works' Blog

So I have been struggling with my sewing machine for months. I've read back and forth through the booklet desperately trying to find out why it was malfunctioning...

Now I will admit I am not the best seamstress and quite honestly don't even consider myself any good - novice at best. But I do understand very basic things and yet I was completely stumped as to what was going on with my machine. It was working, everything was fine, then all the sudden it started snapping the thread, or it slipped out of the needle. As you can imagine I was quite frustrated.

I adjusted the tension, messed with the bobbin and top thread, even re-threaded the entire machine. I consulted my sewing goddess for her help and went through her suggestions as well as double checking everything from the manual (not noticing any improvement), and consulting the internet. There were several "main" suggestions that usually yielded this issue: bad thread, tension being wrong, needle being the wrong size, wrong type of thread. After that it got repetitive, till I noted a suggestion that the needle itself could have been faulty and a defect may have been cutting the thread. I noted another point, making sure the needle was properly installed in the machine but I disregarded that.

It's always the last thing you check (because even if it was the first thing you checked you'd have found it thereby making it also the last thing as well).

I tell you what having exhausted my brain, putting my machine away, being concerned about having to entirely replace it, etc and so on...

I went to check the needle for any imperfections and lo & was in backwards. Yes that's right I had installed my new needle (having broken the last one) backwards. How silly is that? All this trouble - even me going to the extent where I went out and bought new thread and nothing was wrong aside from me doing something backwards! many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Latest Sewn Creation: My New DPN Case!

from March 18, 2011 - originally posted @ Faith Works' Blog

Having fixed my sewing machine issues (see post before this one) and receiving my set of 15 DPN (double pointed needles) in the mail today I opted to make another case for my lovely new tools! While retail stores have them and they are quite nice, the sheer amount of hooks & needles I have is such that I'd have spent a fortune in cases!

Having collected and kept fabric from my quilting grandmother and mother and hoarding it as well as random other sewing materials over the years I opted to make my own.

Mind you having found a simple tutorial in a crochet book about it didn't hurt for basic instructions.

Of course if you visited our blog before you've seen our hook case we made (entirely by hand *shudder*) for our other half and you'll likely notice the "uniqueness" of the design (honestly kind of hideous). As you can note from the pictures of this one it's not much better in the color scheme but it definitely has character...

More to come later! :D many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

My Sewing Machine Hates Me...

Really, I think it does.

For the past few months (as you'll notice from a post I'm going to import to here later) I've been having "issues" with my sewing machine.  Frankly it's not that old, so it shouldn't be "crapping out on me" as they say.  But now having fixed the other issue - which was totally my fault, I have another one AND in the middle of a project albeit a short one.

My top thread has decided to break again and furthermore tangle in the bobbin case.  I consulted the almighty internets and came across this thread (pardon the pun) concerning my specific issue and am about to fiddle with my machine yet again to see if I can solve this conundrum.

Otherwise I'm giving up and deciding that Faeries must have been using my sewing machine and that's why it hates me - perhaps I should feed it...

***indeterminate passage of time as a result of trying yet again to appease my machine***

It's official, I'm waving the white thread, er flag.  My back - from leaning forward - is killing me, my thread is still not cooperating and I've just decided that calling it quits is a much safer thing for all involved.  Me - 0, Sewing Machine - 1.  While it's not a permanent defeat it's enough to stop me in my tracks and listen to the Sewing Gods, who apparently have decreed that I shall not sew anymore today.  I suppose I shouldn't complain given the fact that I did complete a brand new project yesterday...then again it'd be great if I could do the same again.  But apparently that's asking too much, oops.  Perhaps tomorrow? many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...

Just arrived...

I'm a blogger, I like to blog, and it's just one of the things I do.  I guess part of it stems from being a writer and talkative in general (as I don't mind sharing my opinions here and there!)  But also I like to inspire and drive others to be creative and go beyond, "just what's there" and perhaps in my ramblings and daily/weekly goings on I can do this for someone every now and again, that would be nice :).

This blog is focused on things I'm doing of an artistic nature, hobby-like, but not for sale.  You'll notice that I'll be importing some posts from my other blog that is dedicated to my store - but this is for freebies and everything that's "not serious".

You'll also see a "realer" side of me I suppose.  For the sake of professionalism I try not to put anything negative on my business' blog.  I certainly don't want to hear about someone's troubles and complaints.  But then again as an artist accidents and mistakes do happen and while some are happy ones that result in wonderful innovation, many others are things that result in failure and complete frustration.

Here you'll find the real deal, the person behind the art...who at times has less than stellar days when creating or hits roadblocks.  She's a real person, someone you would live next to, or see at the supermarket who just like you has bad days sometimes! many things, sew little thyme for ewe and eye...