Sunday, March 24, 2013

Where does the Time Go?

I can't believe it's almost been a full month since I've posted. Here's a quick run down of what's been keeping me so busy.

-Getting a part time job while looking for a new full time one
-Searching for (and finding) a new full time job
-Looking for housing (including actual viewings now that places know their exact availability)
-Looking into possible room mate situations
-Working the last two weeks at my old job while training in at my new job AND getting part time hours at my new PT job

That's basically it, I'll give you a run down of last weekend to show that I really had absolutely no time for anything other than work and sleep.

Fri. 9 AM Wake up and go to work at new sales job at 10
Fri 10-7 Sales job
Fri 9 PM Get ready for work at the hotel
Fri 10-Sat 8 Work at hotel
Sat. 8-9 grab food and head to new job
Sat 9-5 Work at new job
Sat. 6-9 SLEEP
Sat 9 PM Wake and get ready for hotel job
Sat 10- Sun 8 Work
Sun 5-9PM Serve at part time job
Sun 10-Mon 8 Work at hotel
Mon 10-7 Work at new job

Notice the bold SLEEP bits? Notice how they total up to a whopping 11 hours over the course of that 60 hour span of time??? That is why I've been lax in posting.

Now I'm currently stealing away a few minutes of my second to last overnight shift at the hotel to let you know that I plan on returning to the blogosphere this coming week. On top of that, I actually have quite a bit of fun stuff to show you/talk about. I just need to get the time to snap some pictures and plan some project time around my shiny new daytime hours!!!

Here's a quick preview of what you can expect coming up (some sewing and some not):

  • Thrift store fabric find
  • Joann's shopping trip treasures
  • Journeys into decoupage (decoupoging? decoupogery???)
  • Papasan repair and facelift
  • Unifying my existing furniture
  • Graphpaper geekery
  • Rubber coating trials/tests
  • Defibrilating my suit project
  • Playing with whites
  • Spring cleaning my schedule/routines
My tentative plan at this point is to get anywhere from 2-3 posts out a week. This is mainly because some days I might only get 1-2 hours of work done on any one project, so if I get 2-3 days like those lumped together, I'll have more to show you per post and less personal expectation to get new posts out there quite as often. I also promise that if I have a busy week, I'll at least grab some time on the weekend to tell you about it, maybe brainstorm my plans for the coming week and just keep you in the loop.

Thank you for sticking with me through this and I can't wait to show you some of the fun (and somewhat strange) things that have come into my possession while I've been away.

I hope you all had a great start to your spring, and I look forward to welcoming the warmer months with you!


P.S. Sorry for all of the lists :-S

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Frustrating

  I know that I can't be the only person who's had this problem before. The internet is a big place with a multitude of fun things to find, share, and capture our hopes, dreams, and even...our hearts (stage audience sigh). However, with the positive side of its vastness comes the evil twin . . . TRYING TO FIND SOMETHING AMAZING TWICE!!!

  It's impossible sometimes. In this case I'm looking for a website for a fabric designer and quilter who had absolutely oodles of free quilt patterns on her site. I had a few picked out on my laptop but, as sometimes happens, I ended up with about 20 tabs open on my browser and decided to just close them all and start searching fresh. That was at least 2-3 days ago. I've spent the last 3 hours searching on and off for the site and designer itself as well as where on earth I found the link to it! I never just blatantly seach for fabric designers online, so I am almost positive it was linked through one of the sewing blogs I read. I haven't found it in any posts going back a week on every one of the blogs, but occasionally I pop in and check out new blogs as well.

  If anyone is up to the challange or has any ideas, here's the sparse knowledge that I have from my memories of the site and colections (I was busy looking at the fabric, not the site).

   1. It's a female designer and her name is escaping me entirely, but her name was the name for her fabric line
   2. She had multiple different lines of fabric, all were very fun, busy patterns, just with different themes/motifs/color schemes to the different collections
   3. She didn't sell her products directly from her site, but had links to where to buy her products, one of the purchasing sites only sold about 5-6 different designers' fabric and one of them was Ty Pennington's (of Extreme Home Makeover) home decor fabric line.
   4.Like I said before, she had a massive amount of free quilt patterns, the list was easily 50+ patterns long, but unfortunately my home printer is out of ink, so I couldn't get hard copies of the ones I loved right away.
   5. What I do remember of the site design is that it was very minimal. Lots of white on both sides with the main subject centered, and a fancily scripted list of links to different areas of her website.

  Well, there it is. It's not much to go on, which makes my search that much more difficult and frustrating. I know I don't have a lot of traffic on here, but if you happen to think of someone that seems to match this description, I would be thrilled to find her again!

Ah well, live and live on...or in this case search and search on.

Happy Thursday!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Decision, decisions, decisions

   Ugh, sometimes working an overnight shift can make for some interesting moments.

   Example, when you can't sleep after work, but decide to take a nap before your Oscar party, and wake up an hour before said party. This makes you have to choose between, tidying up for company or decorating for the party.

   Of course I chose to tidy up. In fact, I missed all of the red carpet coverage because I was busy throwing together my garlic bread. So instead of the promised Oscars decorations, here's a look at my new and improved sewing space. I apologize for the lighting in the pictures, it's a basement with horrible lighting, but the fact that it was after sunset didn't help at all.

Here's the current set up, I'm doing mostly pressing right now, so my little ironing board is winning the "Who gets the desktop" race against my Singer.
Just a few of my regularly used tools out in the open. Notice my sewing machine plug next to my pincushion, this means that I can easily swap out my sewing machine or my ironing board as needed without having to mess up the cables or pedal that are hidden behind the desk.

Here's the swap, notice the workplace essentials of a wine glass and candle for ambiance.
My tabletop ironing board could easily be set across that top box and the edge of my desk (that was my intention), but one of two outlets in the entire 30 ft long room, is over to the right of my cutting board and ruler. It can just barely reach, but I'd rather not have to fight the end of the cord.

     I hope this makes up a little bit for my getting your hopes up, though honestly I had only planned on a simple paper cut-out garland with some patterned paper popcorn cones, and of course Oscar ballots.

   Has anyone out there ever had to deal with a temporary or transitional workspace for your sewing and/or crafting? How did it go? Were you able to keep your space relatively well confined, or did you end up hauling everything out and then packing it back up again at the beginning and end of each session?

May your bobbin always be full!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Time Makes Fools...

Goodness me, how long has it been?! I can't believe I haven't posted for five whole days.

I don't have pics because life has been running me ragged, but here's a bit of what I've been working on (I've had a mild case of crafting ADD, so it's mostly unrelated to my jacket :-S  ).

First off, I finally relocated my sewing and crafting supplies from our living room couch, just in time for the Oscar party we're hosting tomorrow! I found a place in the basement just outside my bedroom where I rearanged my desk and some storage boxes so that I could reach the outlet...yes, that's singular, for my sewing machine, lamp, iron, and a place to plug my computer in.

During the relocation project, I was letting my mind wander and found a small side project that I had been meaning to start creeping towards the forefront of my thoughts. I've always wanted to get into quilting, but I thought becoming more comfortable with the basics of sewing and the soecifics of my sewing machine first would be a good idea. I eventually settled on an idea that would give me the best of both worlds. I'm making a quilt out of my basic white sheeting fabric, but to embelish it, I'm hand stitching in stripes of each color of the rainbow. The quilt will be 5 blocks by 7 and each block will end up 8 1/2" wide after the seams are sewn. This gives me the opportunity to do some cutting (already done) and work on my hand stitching/embroidery skills, and eventually I will get the chance to work with piecing it together. It's going to be all squares, so here's to hoping for a moderate success, and I will be posting pictures after I have a few blocks sewn to give you a bit of an idea.

I also began a new hardanger project, though the instructions on the pattern didn't have a size requirement for the fabric, but it was in a packet that were supposed to be 9" doilies. I cut a square 13" to give myself room to work, and started counting up from the center to begin my border (hardanger pieces begin with the border and work their way in) was about 12 holes short!!! I got mad for about 30 seconds, then I composed myself and decided to change it into a freestyle hardanger piece. I'm working backwards from the center and taking it as an opportunity to try some new stitches for the first time.

Did I mention an Oscar party earlier? Why yes I did! Nothing fancy, and potluck style, but I will be taking pictures of what decorations I do use for you to enjoy tomorrow.

I hoe you all stayed busy this week, and have lots of projects planned for this coming week as well. I know I do. What's on the docket for you all before next weekend?

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."  -Albert Einstein


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pay no attention to the man behind the B̶o̶x̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶W̶i̶n̶e̶ Curtain

Hooray! I love having multiple days off in a row. As someone who doesn't have a standard M-F sort of job, I count myself lucky that almost every week I get two if not three days off in a row (the upside of working ten hour shifts!). This morning marks the beginning of one of these blocks of time, I left work shortly after 8 o'clock Tue. and I don't need to be back until Thurs. night at 11 P.M.!

So, what to sweetie is working both today and Thursday during the day, so we may do something Wed, but that leaves two whole days open. I need to sleep a few times in there, so I guess I have about 20 hours or so off awake and on my own free time before I have to work again. Hmmm, what to do, what to do...

I know, I'll SEW!!!

First things first, get your supplies in order, right? Right! That meant a quick stop at Hugo's Wine and Spirits on my way home from work (my two boxes of wine that I've had for a few months each just BOTH got to the point of needing to tip them to get flow the other day!!!). Not to fear, I picked up these bad boys, so I'm set for a good while now.

Aren't they beautiful?! The White Zin. is my go-to, but the other guy was sitting all alone with a lovely "sale" sign, I'm always up to trying a new Vino!

 Next, we have to change out of work clothes and get into something comfy, warm, and fabulous. I'm relocating back down to the icy depths of the basement so that our living room can have its loveseat back, so the warm part is pretty important. Luckily I just did laundry a few days ago, so I grabbed some fluffy wool socks, pajama/athletic pants, a comfy t-shirt and an amazing robe length black shawl neck cardigan I got at Express a few years back.

"Strike a pose" -Vogue

Last, we need some entertainment. As I won't be working in front of a tv anymore (probably for the best), my two options were Classical Minnesota Public Radio or an audiobook. I've been working my way through the Game of Thrones series so today it wasn't much of a contest, sorry MPR.

I love having my audiobook library on my phone!

Ta Da, that's it, I already have my sewing supplies realtively in order (as much as they ever seem to get), now it's on to my wish/to-do list for these days. I'm definitely a list person, so this is more for me than you, don't get bummed if I don't make it through everything.

-Assemble the torso of my first jacket muslin

-Check fit and adjust pattern as needed

-Create second torso muslin to new measurements, if it fits, attach sleeves

-Adjust sleeves as necessary

-Get a "final" muslin completed

-Practice lining said muslin and practice other finishing details (buttonholes, seams and hems finished properly, basically try and make a "wearable muslin".

-Take breaks throughout to post pictures and throw together updates for YOU GUYS!!!

So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Are there any certain, distinctly non sewing items that you like to have with you whenever you work?

Winefully yours,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stranded at the Drive-in...I mean Hotel

That's right everybody, never have I been more happy to work at a hotel.

Here on the frigid plains of the upper Midwest, we had a blizzard last night. It began at around 6pm, and lasted until 6 this evening. I was able to get myself into work just fine last night for my 10pm to 8am shift. However, when the worst of the weather hit us at around 1-5 in the morning, all roads in town plus the interstate were posted as "no travel advised". I decided it want worth it to struggle my way home to sleep then have to come back to work again at 10 tonight. Instead, I grabbed the key to one of our "no show" rooms from last night, slopes down on the bed, and was out cold for a solid eight hours.

Upon waking, I got up, took all the sheets off of the bed, got dressed and made my way downstairs to get clean sheets and...Bibbity, bobbity, boo! We had one more room to sell for tonight! (a good thing because we're full up with travelers stuck here after coming for presidents day weekend).

Unfortunately this means that I didn't get within miles (literally) of my sewing machine. Luckily I have my perpetual craft of my Hardanger embroidery with me, so that's what I'll be working on for the next hour until my shift.

I hope you all had a safe and relaxing holiday. Anybody have some holiday and/or travel horror stories they'd like to share?

My lovely bed from last night, after I had torn off the sheets, getting ready to make it up clean again.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Handanger, what is it and how do I pronounce it?

Folks, a few times in my posts I've mentioned Hardanger Embroidery. I just wanted to take some time and explain this particular needlecraft a bit as it is very near and dear to my heart.

Hardanger (pronounced hard-unger, like "Hunger" without the "H") is a traditional form of Norwegian Embroidery using 22 count cotton weave cloth (this is the standard, but other weaves can be used) and Perl cotton thread, typically ranging from #5 to #12 weight depending on the fabric being used, and the stitches being made. Traditionally it is done with the thread and the cloth being the same color, usually white or cream.

I am originally from southern Minnesota where there is a large community with strong Norwegian heritage. My Grandma Johnson (doesn't get much more Norwegian American than that, does it?) wasn't taught by her mother or grandmother or anything nostalgic like that. Rather, she and some of her girlfriend decided to take a class offered through the town's Community Ed. services, and after the class finished, they continued to meet up once a week to work on their various projects, share tips and experiences, learn/new stitches, and chit chat. They were lucky enough to have the lovely lady who had lead the class join them and help with any tips or advanced techniques.

My Grandmother has been gone for 8 years this coming April, and to this day, some of my most vivid memories of her involve her sitting in her armchair and working away at a doily or table runner while Grandpa sat watching TV.

So when I decided to do a "homemade" Christmas this last year (honestly intended to save a bit of money on a tight budget), I chose to begin teaching myself Hardanger in honor of my Grandmother's memory.

The basic supplies needed are cloth, thread, and needles. Typically two weights of thread are used for any given project, if your heavier thread is #5, then you will usually use #8 (one level finer) for any needle-weaving. Whereas using #8 for your blocks would mean buying #12 for the detailed work. I typically use #5 and #8 as there are more colors readily available in these sizes than #12.

A close up of my current Hardanger supply box featured in yesterday's organizing post. Different colors and weights of thread, fine point scissors, and two different sizes of tapestry needles (20 and 22) along the right side.

The basis of all Hardanger pieces is a block of stitches referred to as a Kloster Block. It looks like this.

These are places corner to corner or end to end to create "step" and "row" type patterns to create an outline shape, then further blocks are places inside as well as decorative blocks, needle-weaving, and other patterns to create the details of the design.

Hardanger today is used mostly for doilys, table runners, and decorative pillows, but the possibilities are endless. Full tablecloths, window treatments, Christmas ornaments, card inserts, bookmarks, even full bed coverings.

Here are some samplings of the simple doily patterns that I currently own.

The top is a pictured design in a book I was given by one of Grandma's stitching buddies (Thanks Kathy!) The bottom is a spare card insert from Christmas, I wanted to have one almost all the way done in case it turned out I had forgotten somebody, or one got messed up during the card assembly process.

Personally, I find hand stitching to be extremely relaxing and I always keep a Hardanger piece in progress to keep my hands busy and give my mind (slightly ADD here) a task to focus on. I am addicted to classical Minnesota Public Radio, and often prefer this to watching TV, unless there is a specific movie or show on that I want to watch. I also listen to a lot of audio books and these are great to do while stitching away because you don't need your eyes.

What sort of projects do you do for "crafting therapy" either when you're in a slump, or just on the side? Have you ever looked into the creative and cloth based traditions of your own heritage? If not, hop online and see what you find, it's great way to connect with your roots, and can lead to some very meaningful pieces to give as gifts to family members.

Writing Sewing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write sew, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
-Graham Green (altered slightly)