Wednesday, 31 December 2008

End of Year Part II

Now here are my goals for 2009, with commentary:

1. Continue food and exercise plan.
I have made up a food and exercise diary on an Excel spreadsheet to help with this. I can see my motivation for exercising will probably be a problem, so I'll try to come up with some strategies to overcome this.

2. Save money and travel at end of year.
I've made up a budget (gosh, I love Excel!). Craft supplies are not a built-in expense! Knowing that everything I spend money on will be right there, recorded for posterity is really helping me think twice about buying things. The terrible exchange rate lately is really helping to cut down on impulse purchases on Etsy as well.

3. Sell at a shop or market at least once.
I'm already regretting setting this goal. What was I thinking?? But it will be a huge achievement if I can pull it off and I'm sure it will give me a massive confidence boost. If I sell anything, of course!

4. Project: write an appreciation letter once per week.
I like the idea of a year-long project. I heard about a survey recently - one group of people kept a diary about things they were grateful for, a second group of things that annoyed them. At the end of 3 months, the grateful people exercised more and reported higher levels of other positive attributes. I thought I'd do something similar with my own twist. Perhaps if I'm happy with them at the end of the year I'll have them bound.

5. Project: do a drawing once per week.
2009s version of keeping an art journal.

6. Practice piano once per week.
Now that the hobby room is tidy enough that I can actually sit in front of my keyboard, I'd like to use it! At the moment I'm thinking 1/2 hour per week is do-able, but I'll see how it goes.


Happy New Year!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

End of Year


four years old and fancy-free, originally uploaded by sapaho.

Here is the bit where I think about my New Year's resolutions and come up with some goals for next year. I've never really liked the idea of resolutions, or goals in general for that matter. In the last few years though, I've seemed to enjoy torturing myself with great long lists of "Goals" and "Things To Do".

At the start of this year, for example, I wrote a list of Near Year's resolution in the first page of my art journal. The style of writing is a bit flowery as I guess I was in an arty frame of mind. I will now reveal way more of myself than I feel comfortable with by listing these and reflecting on them, one year later:

1. Take a drawing course - don't be afraid.
I didn't end up doing this, more because of time and money restrictions than anything else. I didn't even get much time to practice drawing. In the last few months I started to formulate some ideas on what kinds of subjects and styles I would like to work on though.

2. Have more confidence in myself - take more risks.
Erm, I went completely backwards on this, in the craft department anyway. I pulled out of meet-ups, only went to 1 Brown Owls session and even procrastinated about visiting hand-made shops because of fear of meeting way-cooler-than-me people. In other areas of my life, things were a bit better. I travelled overseas and secured a contract position at my work.

3. Record all my ideas - everything is useful.
Hm, didn't actually have all that many ideas this year, so it wasn't that hard! My head's been in other places. An issue I did have was finding the time to follow through on the ideas.

4. Keep an art journal - at least once a week.
I certainly did keep an art journal, but not once a week! There are 13 pages filled in. Sometimes I didn't get time, sometimes I wasn't inspired. If I didn't have an idea beforehand, then I didn't bother. Perhaps I should try some doodling. I did find some blogs dedicated to art journalling. I read them regularly and they're very inspiring.

5. Keep in contact with my friends more.
Hm, yes and no. I emailed my regular friends more, but the friends I don't see very often I saw even less. It's a combination of shyness and laziness, I guess.

6. Make healthy eating and exercise into a habit again - take back lost ground.
I had my ups and downs on this one. I joined a gym at the start of the year and was going great guns for about 5 months, following my program and attending 3-4 times a week. I can't believe I was motivated for that long! A few factors suddenly came along that made the whole thing just crash to the ground. One of them was that I realised that I'd actually put on 10kgs. I struggled on for a few months, but one day I decided to chuck the guilt and the membership card out the window and do things differently. I'm loosely following the program from a book called Walk Off Weight and eating healthy in a way that suits me; things are going much better for me.

7. Turn the spare room into a studio, not just a storage room - make it inspirational.
I am working on this one - slowly but surely! I am finally just now starting to get the storage worked out. I faced up to reality 2 weekends ago and threw out a whole bunch of stationery-type stuff that I'll never use. That freed up quite a bit of space. I can see now that everything's going to fit in. I'm not at the 'making it pretty' stage yet, but it's coming.

8. Go on a holiday - continue life's experience.
Well, I certainly did this and then some! My trip to Japan in November was the most amazing experience I've ever had, and it changed me in ways I never anticipated.

I'll talk about my goals for next year in the next post. I don't want to bore you all too much in one go!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Busy Little Beaver

So many things have happened! I think I'll start with the trivial and work my way up to the 'wow'.

I cancelled my subscription to Handmade Magazine. I really should have checked it out at Mag Nation before I subscribed. Lesson learned! They put out three Christmas editions in a row, and I don't do Christmas. Even if there had been one or two generic projects in it, I would have been happy. There's a big emphasis on patchwork, quilting and beaded jewellery-making as well - again, things I'm not interested in. I saw a special Spring issue in the shops a few months back, but I was never sent it as part of the subscription, so I don't know what was going on there. Although, after I called up to cancel it, I received the final issue and it had a couple of nice embroidery patterns in it. But only a couple out of about 40 projects. So schnyeh. I'd rather have the back issues of Craft: Magazine. I love that mag - I always want to do every project in it! How many magazines can you say that about? I really wish there was a local equivalent. Speaking of cool mags, I asked for a subscription to Frankie Mag for Christmas. If I don't get it then I will definitely subscribe this year. I went to buy the latest issue last week from Mag Nation, but the guy said it wasn't there yet and was maybe coming out late. His indifference was inversely proportionate to my distress.

I used the refund I got from Handmade to buy a membership to Brown Owls for 2009. I'm not too sure about this. Don't get me wrong - I went to one session this year and it seems to be a lovely group with fabulous people. However, I pulled out of three Etsy meetups in a row due to extreme shyness and a sense of inferiority. (No, I didn't really hurt my back.) So I don't know how many sessions I will actually make it to. I feel really silly now thinking back on those last-minute mind-changes, but meeting new people is for me like public speaking while someone is running their fingernails down a blackboard for other people. It's multiplied by 100 when my crafts are involved. I wish I could blog at people, or something like that. I'm so much better at writing than talking. When I have the time to think about what I'm going to say I do much better. If it weren't for the internet I might not have any friends! And I probably wouldn't have a job either.

Anyhoo, now I will talk about my new book, Beginners Guide to Braiding: The Craft of Kumihimo by Jacqui Carey:

Book cover

I bought it as a reward for myself for reaching my first weight loss goal. It explains how to make kumihimo braid using the marudai, which is the frame used traditionally. Here is a picture of one:

Marudai frame (not from book - stolen from interwubs)

One of the first things I realised is that my foam disc can only be used to make one type of braid. There are many other types (square, flat, etc.) and patterns that can be made on the frame. These involve sliding the cords back and forth around the frame as you work. This would be a massive pain if using the disc, as the cords are all stuck fast in the slits around the disc, plus you'd really need a frame so you can use both hands to move the cords around. Also, you can attach weights to the braid to control the tension and make it looser or more dense, which you can't do with the disc. Thankfully, the book explains how you can make your own marudai from cardboard. Cool! Literally hundreds of different colour and patterns combinations are shown. The instructions are very clear and are accompanied by useful diagrams. The pictures have that special grainy, off-colour look that you see in books from the 70s and 80s, but I think this just adds to the charm!
Now I just need a whole bunch of this:

Bunches of biron - Japanese silk threads - from the careycompany.com website

Interestingly enough, when I did some quick Googling I found the author's online shop: Carey Company. Unfortunately, the prices are a bit too much for me. Thank goodness for cotton and cardboard!

A few days ago, I started this embroidery:

I saw the pattern on a blog (sorry, I read so many, I don't know which) and just fell in love with it. I know I've said I don't do Christmas, but it combines 3 of the things I love best about it - Christmas trees/ornaments, reindeer and sausage dogs. I know sausage dogs aren't particularly associated with the season, but they are so adorable, I just want to associate them with everything! I'm hoping to incorporate him into a pouch somehow; I'd like to make up 2-3 embroideries and then break out the sewing machine and make a bunch of pouches and bags in a big batch (well, big for me, anyway!).

Last but not least, I sold my Kokeshi Doll 1 after it being on Etsy for 9 months. Here's a reminder photo of it:


Turns out, the buyer is the owner of a shop in Northcote. Turns out, he and his partner are really cool and they want to stock my work! :0

*pause to let that sink in*

So if I can make about 10 dolls, they would be interested in seeing them. Ten is a huge amount for someone with as little spare time as me! I have a second finished one which I'm not happy with and never posted about cause I think it looks like a stubbie with a face, and a third one I'm nearly half way through that I was never really satisfied with either. Perhaps I will get them out and try to see them with less critical eyes.

Speaking of, the other day I wrote a list of New Years' Resolutions / Goals For 2009. I've become strangely interested in self-improvement the last few years and it always gives me a feeling of optimism to write a list of goals. Some of them are crafty and some not, but they are all to do with improving my life. I will have a look and think about the current year's list next week perhaps.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Please help independent crafters!

A new law may be passed in the U.S. that requires all toys and childrens' garments to be tested at the manufacturer's expense before they can be sold. These tests can cost thousands of dollars and will probably wipe all small and independent businesses off the face of the earth if the law is passed. More info from the Craftzine blog:

We've been following the CPSIA [Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act] development, and it's apparent the groundswell of protest is in full swing.

Petitions are being signed by the thousands, letters are being sent to Congress, and small business owners are mobilizing to take action against what they believe are unreasonable demands being placed on them by a law that will take effect on February 10. The new legislation will mandate that every part of a child's toy and clothing be tested for lead before it can be sold to the public.

The law was passed in response to high levels of lead being found in toys manufactured in Chinese factories, but does not take into account the thousands of small businesses who make toys and clothes in much smaller numbers, and many of them by hand in their own homes or workshops. If the law goes into effect as it's currently written, they will have to pay up to thousands of dollars to test just one set of handmade goods.

The lead test costs a minimum of US$180 [I have read of higher figures, ranging up to US$500 per component], and every part of the sample toy or garment would need to be tested separately before the product would be deemed safe. This includes buttons, thread, nuts and bolts, etc. Those who make one-off items would need to have every single item that they made tested. Incorporating this cost into the sale price of the item/s would make it impossible for independent crafters to make a living. I understand that it's important to keep children safe and not expose them to toxins where possible, but this Bill is very poorly thought-through. For more thoughts on the wider implications, see this blog post.

If you sell anything on Etsy or another U.S.-based website that could be construed as a toy or children's item, then you will be affected. I will be.

Please sign the online petition.

Thanks.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Flurries of activity

Mini monster is finished!

Perhaps one of my New Years' Resolutions should be to take better photos!

He's a few days late, oops. I'm terrible with deadlines. I love to do things for people and send them things, but I'm no good at actually organising it to be done. I have an excuse this time, though. You see, Boy downloaded Sim City 3000 for me. I'd mentioned to him that I was a bit nostalgic for it. I'd been completely obsessed with it about 6 years ago. Then my computer died and I lost all my cities, as well as my not-quite-legal copy of the game. I grieved, and I moved on. Other computer games filled in the gap. None of them had quite the same charm, though. Now it's back in my life - and it's back with a vengeance! My first city is named Lennyville (after my laptop). I may never craft again. (Just kidding.) Actually, SimCity is quite a good game for the crafter, as you can leave it running on the slowest setting and do some craft while you decide what to build next. As long as I keep one eye on the info bar where any problems or complaints come up, I'm easy!

Anyway, monsty is finally done. I thought ahead a little bit and made all of his arms and legs first before I started on the body. That way I got the fiddly bit over and done with, and I didn't have to worry so much about running out of yarn and/or not being able to re-create what I had done before. I think I will do it that way from now on. I had some trouble with his hair. First I tried embroidering it with eyelash yarn for a fuzzy look. I failed completely. No, it wasn't me, it was the yarn. Grr! I DON'T recommend doing this. The fuzzies on it make it impossible to pull through the hole, and the yarn is very weak so it snaps when you try to pull it hard. Resulting in much aggravation. When I switched to plain black acrylic I had much more luck. It took quite a while to cover his whole head though, and I'm not all that happy with the result. To me he looks like an army recruit! The monsters definitely need hair, though. They just look naked without it. The three methods I've tried are:
1. needle felting (Monstrous Muriel);
2. embroidery (mini-monster);
3. holding eyelash yarn together with the yarn used for the body (Scary Selby)
(I know I've only shown 2 of those up til now, sorry!)
Needle felting is the most aesthetically pleasing to me and the least pain in the butt to accomplish. With this particular monster, I decided to use black buttons for the eyes, but I immediately regretted it. That indefinable aspect that gives the face personality was missing. I made a last minute decision to embroider on some eyebrows, and that helped a lot. It still takes time for me until the bits of haberdashery I've attached seem to meld together into a face and they 'come alive'. I don't really have time for mini-me to sit there and develop a personality - I have to send him off straight away and just hope the recipient can see something in him. I also sent my swap partner the green and purple Japanese braid that I showed you in progress in the last post. I couldn't think of anything to do with it straight away, so I neatened up the ends into tassels and put it in with the package. I figure the green is quite festive!

I got so excited about working on monsters that I even got out the long-neglected Scary Selby and finished off his head as well. I've only got his arms to go now! Selby has the most adorable face; I can't wait to show him off to the public.

Last Thursday I also went to the Kris Kringle Night Market at Northcote Town Hall. I'm so glad that some of my friends could come along as well and support the handiness. I picked up some neat stuff:



There's an elfy Christmas decoration from jellibat, a little pouch to keep my USB stick in so it doesn't get lost in my bag, and a giant pincushion from the MS Society stall. I did get a couple of other things, but I can't show them to you because they're gifts. Even though I spent a little more than I would normally on these items, I loved doing it because I know they're made by someone from start to finish, not just churned out of a pollution-belching factory somewhere.

My copy of Japanese Braiding for Beginners arrived on Friday as well. I'll talk more about that next time. That one was a reward to myself for achieving my first weight loss goal. I've been buying way too many presents for myself lately, though! I promise I will save up more money next month for travelling!

Work has been very very busy, and it's been annoying that I've had to spend my spare time organising things. Now that I've finally finished something though, I just have to decide whether to finish my current braid next, start a new mini-monster, or do the sausage dog with antlers embroidery I found on a blog the other day. Decisions!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Zine Time

It's all about the zine right now for me. I've been working away on writing my travel zine. One reason I'm writing it is that joined a(nother) swap on Swap-Bot for a longer zine, and this is the topic I most want to write about right now. The swap is due on 2nd January. I hope think I can finish it by then!

Sister Diane's Christmas Digest zine arrived in the mail tonight too:


It has a hand-cut cover with genuine Christmas wrapping paper decoration, and a personal message from Sister Diane. What a sweetie! I'm having a lot of fun reading it.

I'm also well into my Etsy Swap item. It's a mini monster. One of the ideas was to make a smaller version of something you normally make, so I ran with that. He's in a lovely, sparkly festive colour. Sorry it's a bit fuzzy - I was on the phone at the time I took the photo:


All my monsters seem to have something sticking out of the crotch during the creative process. What's the go with that?

In other zine-related news, I've set up a free (basic) account on ArtFire and listed my zines on it. I'm just waiting to see what happens (if anything). It's interesting to compare ArtFire with Etsy:

Fees
Etsy - US$0.20 per item for 4 month long listing, plus 3.5% commission on sales.
ArtFire - Free account: can list up to 10 items. Paid account: flat rate of US$7 per month. No listing fees or commission fees on individual items. (At that rate, I'd have to list over 50 items per month for ArtFire to beat Etsy on fees. That's not taking Etsy's commission into account though. I'm not very good at maths.)


Listing
Etsy - Have to fill out 5 separate pages, so it can take a while. Tagging system is quite good though - it gives you suggestions to refine your tags. Categories are very straightforward.
ArtFire - All fields are on a single page. So for example you can download photos while filling out other fields. Very fast. Also has extra features such as 'Inspiration' field and how many hours it took to make the item. Much better! Category system is a little confusing, but they are refining it with user feedback, so I'm sure it will improve with time. With the free account, you can only list one copy of each item, so I'll have to be quick off the mark to relist a zine once it sells. Don't know yet if it has the 'relist' feature that Etsy has or if I'd have to start from scratch each time. ArtFire is more obviously geared towards artists that make one-off items.

Establishment
Etsy - Has been around for about 5 years; has a lot of word-of-mouth marketing and a huge seller base. Does some advertising in magazines and websites based in the U.S., but many people complain that they don't do enough marketing.
ArtFire - Has only just begun (it's still in Beta, I believe) and is a bit buggy. Not very many sellers yet. This could be a good thing though - not too much competition! However, they've done a huge amount of marketing geared towards buyers already: they've purchased the back cover of Craft: Magazine for the next year, advertised on TV shows in the U.S., etc. People are very happy about this!
Also, thanks to Twitter (where the admin of ArtFire have an active account), I have noticed that they are listening to/acknowledging requests from users, and often tweaking the site to accommodate them, sometimes within just a few hours. There have been very few user-initiated changes to Etsy in the time I have been using it.

Exposure
Etsy - When a potential buyer does a search, the most newly listed items come up first. Because there are literally millions of items for sale, if your item was listed some time ago, there's practically no chance of a buyer sifting through enough items to find YOUR little gem. Many sellers are tempted to renew items regularly to push them to the top of the list, instead of waiting the 4-month period for them to expire. Of course, this costs US$0.20 per time, eating into one's profit margin. It's a dilemma.
ArtFire - Apparently every item that's listed appears on the front page for a certain amount of time, giving every seller some great exposure. The seller base is expanding rapidly though, so who knows how long this will last.

Features
Etsy - Has the bog standard forums and favourite list. Many people complain that the search feature is a bit crap. Sure, you can search by colour or sellers that have recently sold something, but you can't search by base country of seller. What the? Features such as the Treasuries seem to be more for sellers to play around than for buyers to find what they are looking for.
ArtFire - Has all of the standard features of Etsy, plus a few others such as Badges and a Karma score that can be earned. (I haven't managed to find out too much about these yet.) A big one is that you can customise the currency you want the prices shown in. Some terms are different, e.g. 'shop' in Etsy is 'My Studio' in ArtFire, and sellers are referred to as 'artisans'. There's much more of an inclusive, community feel to it. The categories are slightly different and have more emphasis on different materials and artforms. ArtFire is definitely geared towards artists - of all kinds.

Whether one site is 'better' than the other remains to be seen. This post was a lot longer than I intended it to be, as per usual!

More updates as they happen.
Bye!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

She's back

Well, it's been some time and I apologise for that. I've been back from Japan for two weeks now and I've been completely silent. I can't describe how absolutely amazing Japan was. In one word, it was brill! I'm writing a zine about my trip and observations. The working title is A Foreigner in Tokyo.

It was an intense 12 days of experiences - exploring, observing, walking, eating, drinking - and buying! I will mainly stick to the crafty stuff for your benefit. The store-bought travel guide was very useful for some things, but the only shopping it really touched on was electrical goods and vintage kimonos, neither of which I could really afford. Thankfully just before I left I just happened to stumble upon the most useful thing ever. I have to give unlimited amounts of gratitude to Marceline and her zine Tokyo Shopping Guide. This little guide helped me find all the crafty, cute, kawaii and kitsch shops I would never have found out about otherwise. Zines to the rescue!

The first craft shop I came across however was completely by accident. It was Day 5 and we had transferred from Tokyo to a small town at the foot of Mt. Fuji called Hakone.

A view of Mt. Fuji from Owakadani.

Boy and I were wandering down the street looking for a place to buy some food when I happened to glance through the window of a shop and see wool! My heart skipped a beat! I immediately went in and started rummaging around. It was one of those wonderful, old-fashioned shops where everything is all piled up, and the lady writes down the prices on a piece of paper. I bought a few kimono fabric squares, an amigurumi cow kit, some buttons, a crochet book called Magic Scrubbers Part 9 and my favourite find so far - a kumihimo braiding kit!

Braiding in action.

A few days later, we went to Tokyu Hands, which is a life-enhancing department store dedicated to all things fun and creative. Boy and I got some fun and creative stuff there! The top floor had a decent-sized craft section. It was interesting to see the types of crafts that were represented: e.g. glass engraving and leather-working. There were even a couple of whole calf skins! Euw! I only bought a couple of little things - some buttons and a stencil. The stationery floor was amazing! And amazingly crowded. Boy and I had a really quick look at everything, but nothing topped the rubber stamp making kits that we found. They came with a carving tool, 'blank' rubber stamp block (very similar to what erasers are made of), an ink pad and a handle for the stamp to slip into. Cool! Later in another store we picked up a whole set of tools with different profiles for advanced carving! This could be very fun!

My last crafty experience was on Day 10, which was a designated 'big shopping day'. :) After spending the morning in the electrical goods suburb of Akihibara, we went to Fabric Street, in Fabric Town. Well, it's actually called Nippori, but the whole place is filled with fabric and sewing accessories shops, so they must have thought they would just run with it.

I love this place!

The biggest shop was one called Tomato. It has a separate haberdashery shop, and then a main fabric shop with 5 floors. It was very exciting. I bought some kawaii buttons and beads, some braid, a frog plushie kit, some fat quarter packs, and some 1-2 metre lots of of some cheaper but still cute fabrics. I stood in a corner of the shop and quickly boned up on the Japanese for "one metre please" and "two metres please" before I approached the counter and I seemed to do OK. Interestingly the fabric with the cute kokeshi dolls on the black background was one of the cheapest in the whole shop. They had so many fat quarters that it made my head spin. In the end I just chose some pre-matched stacks with about 8 pieces each and 2 slightly larger pieces. Then I checked out some of the smaller shops on the street. One seemed to specialise in American quilt-making supplies, another had some random but great stuff. I could have bought a lot more, but I was aware of how the Australian Dollar had recently dive-bombed to pathetic lows, as well as the weight limit on my suitcase, so I was in tight-arse mode. I did stock up on some extra-large ricrac and pompom edging though!

Throughout the trip, I did no crafting whatsoever, and I didn't read anything longer than a menu. I thought I'd go crazy, but I didn't even realise until after it was over. I did however, put a lot of energy into writing and decorating my travel journal. I think that this was enough of a crafty/arty/writy outlet to satisfy me during the trip. Spending 12 days in an almost constant state of excitement was pretty draining - the first five days or so after I got back, I did very little, crafty or otherwise. I was suffering from a major case of the post-travelling blues. Then I got out my kumihimo braiding disc and gave it a try. It's my new favourite craft! I've churned out tons of five braids in different colours and materials, branching out from 8-strand to 16-strand thicknesses. I just don't know what to do with them, that's all. I've seen them made into keychains, necklaces and bracelets, but that would involve a foray into the realm of jewellery making that I've never been willing to take. When you think about it though, for every need that requires fairly thick string or cord, I could use a kumihimo braid. My brain is whizzing.

Kumihimo braid - 16-strand thickness using acrylic yarn; the first braid I made in 4 colours with cord from the kit.

In other news, I received my Etsy Christmas swap package last week. It's a beautiful illustration of a bird in a tree. I hung it in the loungeroom above the entrance to the hobby room and I love looking at it!

So pretty!

Also, I sold some zines while I was away! After a drought of about 6 weeks, I finally sold 2 copies of the Thrify Crafter zine. I also had a bulk order for 6 copies each of two of the smaller ones. That's so exciting! It's really spurring me on to write more.

Oh, yeah and P.S. here's a photo to prove I was really there!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Lost in Translation; or; Capybaras ... how cute are they??

Hello, konnichiwa and other cliched greetings from Japan!

There is so much to say that I don`t know where to begin. The cuteness is just overwhelming! The craft shops are overflowing! And the souvenirs are filling up my suitcase!
I will just quickly share with you my newest obsession - kapibarasan!
Yes, it's a capybara. Who hangs out with a camel.

Here is the 3-D version. They come in about 5 different sizes and you are supposed to display them stacked on top of each other with the biggest at the bottom and the smallest on the top. Cute and tidy!


{Picture Source}

Here he is (or she? I don't know!) in board book version:

{Picture Source}

I haven't seen any of the books myself yet, but they also come on tote bags, keyrings, etc. I have a smallish plush one, a coin purse-head one and a bag charm one. I tried to buy a second bag charm from a gashapon (plastic egg dispenser) machine, but it ate my money. *pouts* I have about 30 gashapon so far of everything from cheesy 70s TV show monsters to marble heads of ancient greek personages to an actual fossil.

And cause I`m a librarian at heart, here`s a picture of a real capybara for reference:

{Picture Source}


The real thing is just about as cute as the Japanised version, I think!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Mosaic Monday - Japan, here I come!



This is just a little post to let it be known that I haven't done any craft lately, and won't be for the next few weeks. I have a good reason, though! I've been insanely busy preparing for my trip to Japan. Boy and I leave in 2 days' time and I'm completely beside myself with excitement, fear and all-around general craziness!

I'm not going to take any craft supplies with me as I don't think I'll get time to fit any crafting in. I mean, if I'm sitting on my butt at home every night and I'm not crafting, then I doubt I'll be doing it on an overseas trip! (For the record, I've been more inclined to play computer games than craft lately. I go through phases, I guess. I try not to beat myself up about it. But that's a-whole-nother post!

Sure, I have plenty of time on the plane and in the airport to work on a portable project. 20 hours each way by my calculations! But no. No knitting needles or crochet hooks allowed in the carry-on luggage. How $*%&(@# frustrating! I got excited all over again when I thought to take some pencils and drawing paper to practice my drawing instead. However, Boy seems to think that pens and pencils may not be allowed in carry-on luggage as they might be considered to come under the heading of sharp objects. I'll be so @#$%($& if that's the case! I've decided to take 2 sets of pencils in case the carry-on ones get confiscated. I'm also taking glue stick, scissors and glitter glue (in my suitcase) to decorate my travel journal with. The notebook I bought is 100 pages long, and I wondered how on earth I would fill it up? Then I had the idea to make it into a themed art journal as well. So I will do lots of drawings in it, stick in photos and postcards, and make pockets in it to store brochures that I'm sure I'll collect along the way. Right now I'm probably more excited about that than anything else.

Here is my list of things to buy in Japan:
* fabric, ribbons, trims and buttons
* stationery
* special paper (for glue-less bookbinding, origami, etc)
* crazy crazy foods (though I won't be able to bring those back)
* religious paraphernalia (shinto, buddhist and taoist, if they have it)
* gaming merchandise
* figurines with flocking on them (that fuzzy, suede-like stuff) I don't know why but I love that right now!
* craft books and magazines
* all things amigurumi
* some things steampunk

I'm hoping I'll be able to post a couple of times to keep you updated. There's an internet cafe at the hotel we're staying in. Just gotta. Not. Log. On. To. Twitter.........



P.S. How about that Presidential election? What a rollercoaster ride!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Eight Great Things to do on Your Lunchbreak

This post stems mainly from the fact that now I'm on contract instead of a casual worker, I have to have an hour for lunch and finish at a set time instead of taking half an hour and finishing earlier - or whenever I like. *pouts*

* Go for a walk.
My new book Walk off Weight has you walking every day at different speeds and duration until, 8 weeks later, you are fitter and healthier than before. (Then you start over at Advanced Level). This has the added advantage that I won't have to do cardio exercise after work, and I will have more time to do my Susan Powter strength training video or my yoga DVD when I get home.

* Do online drawing course.
I have been wanting to take a drawing course for a few years now, but didn't have the money, time or courage. Perhaps this one?

* Do shopping chores.
Need to go to the chemist, or Lincraft, or the art supplies shop? Why wait til after work when you can get it out of the way in your lunchbreak?

* Maintain shop / post in blog.
Yes folks, you may be hearing from me a lot more often from now on!

* Do craft in the park.
How relaxing and lovely would that be? I'm lucky enough to have 2 fabbo parks just next door to my building! Just one of the few perks of working for the government. I could also listen to educational podcasts while I'm crafting and kill two birds with one stone.

* Catch up on reading blogs.
Let's face it - I have so many blogs on my reader that this is never going to happen! But it's fun trying.

* Visit art galleries.
How many art galleries are within 2 blocks of my building? At least 3 I can think of off the top of my head. There must be more. Get some culcha up ya and go to some galleries!

* Cook a hot lunch - using the microwave and toaster oven!
I love cooking and I love a challenge!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Neglecting you again in thus manner


Again I have no photos of my own to show you. Trust me, it would be really boring. I made a shoe bag on the weekend to give Boy for his birthday. (It's okay, I'm not spoiling anything, it's already been given.) However, I'm going to take it back and do a little extra reinforcing stitching on it and put a different drawstring in it. That's ok to do to someone's gift, right?

I started an art journal page yesterday. Puzzle pieces and other confusing, maze-like images are the main theme. I'm not sure what I'm trying to express.

My zombie craft of choice lately has been knitted flowers. I plan on creating a whole army of them to take over all my shopping bags and embellish them to death! Yes, there shall be sequins!

(I'm a little nutty at the moment because I'm at work on the late shift and I'm all alone in the basement. *rocks back and forth* All I have is this webcam [link inactive] of the Melbourne skyline to keep me company. Yes, it is sunny. In the Above Land.)


Meanwhile, I have a strong urge to order hundreds of pens and pen accessories from this site: JetPens. *gurgles* Patience grasshopper, you will have your fill of Japanese pens soon.....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Speed Blogging, Part 4


Knitted Flower on Knitting Bag, originally uploaded by salihan.



Hey all,

Last night I finished/started some more knitted flowers. Anything more complicated is really beyond me at the moment.
My head's in an airplane and the rest of me is grounded at work!

Photos of that would be really boring, so I posted a much prettier flower from Flickr. Perhaps I'll try making that one when my head's screwed back on.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Mosaic Monday - Softies

So sure, it's Friday. But that pretty much reflects my whole crafty activity schedule lately.
Goals - uncompleted. Thoughts - unthought. Ideas - unhad. Crafts - unmade.

Here are a few things I've been obsessed with though:

Softies! How wonderful are they? I can completely understand why people collect them. Here's a quick summary mosaic from Flickr:


Today I also joined Twitter. At first I thought, what on earth is the point of this site? But then people started adding me ('following me' is the term they use, as if I'm some kind of goddess! Heh!). So I started looking at their profiles, and their shops or blogs, and who follows them, etc etc. And I guess that means that some of them are looking at my profile/blog/shop, hopefully!

P.S. Stephen Fry is following me!!!! How surreal!




Photo Credits:
1. Georgette & Lisette - Conjoined Twins plush, 2. Handsome Devil and P.T. Stitchy, 3. E, 4. horned ghost, 5. australian shepard plush, 6. Petronilla Oetingerilla, 7. Blue Mommy softie and kitten, 8. for etsy's upcycling contest, 9. Softie Mclovely Dinosaur "I'm ready for my close up", 10. for etsy's upcycling contest, 11. Frederick The Panda, 12. Puppy Forget Me Not, 13. Creature Feature: Alien - amigurumi, 14. jellimo kid dex, 15. Bjorn @ etsy.com, 16. reindeer oobees!!, 17. Striped bean softie, 18. Blue Siamese Kitty, 19. three chaps, 20. Dinosaur @ etsy.com, 21. new dolls, 22. Cute Face, 23. Prancer,Cupid & Donner, 24. Family :), 25. Luke The AstroNaughty

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Pronto!

Hello! Just a quick update on what I've been making.
I apologise in advance - all my photos came out a bit fuzzy today. It was just one of those days, I guess!

There's these bookmarks that I made for a swap. The actual swap was for a Reading Log - these were extra treats:

Creative, no? No, not really.

[The text reads: "Let's get married, go home and read a book. "Sure thing, dollface!"] It was quite fun working with the airbrush pen and collage, though I think my mojo was a bit off that day. Then today I made this:

L for Lenny.

Well, technically I cut it out last week, embroidered it on the weekend and sewed it tonight. It's a pouch to keep my mouse and laptop cables in. Note the wonkiness of the sewing along the zip and ric rac. It's actually a lot more pronounced in real life. It's just for me though, so who cares! I bought a bulk lot of 50 zips on Ebay today, so I'll be able to practice quite a bit!

Then this happened! The plushes that I bought in the Softies for Mirabel auction arrived!


I have decided to call the one on the left Miranda. It just popped into my head and I tend to trust that. The car ones on the right are called Beep, Toot and Vroom. I am going to keep them in my car. (It's my first anniversary of getting her it, so they're a bit like an anniversary gift.) My own Monstrous Muriel has popped up in the middle there. She just loves to socialise! This morning I almost had the feeling that she was looking at me, but then again, it was 6.30am and I was distracted with getting ready for work. I do like the way her face has turned out though - much more expressive than I had hoped for.

Speaking of Monstrosity, Etsy has created a new item category for dolls, which has forced me to decide whether Muriel et al are toys or dolls. Or art toys or art dolls. Or soft sculpture. Geez, I don't know!!

Friday, 3 October 2008

End of September Wrap-Up

Boring for you, but instructional for me.
My goals for September and results:

1. Increase items in shop to 38.
The number actually went down this month! I let some expired items stay expired because I didn't like the way I'd photographed them. But with Boy's new camera, we can fix that!

2. Work 2 hours on Long Term projects.
I did this and then some! I'm really enjoying knitting or crocheting while I listen to the audiobooks I downloaded from The Classic Tales Podcast and I was itching to do a lot more! But I held back because I knew I had so much else to do! I worked on Branwell the Brachiosaurus while I finished The Hound of the Baskervilles. I had never read any Sherlock Holmes mysteries before and I have to admit I had a pre-conceived notion of what it would be like. I was all ready to be hatin' on Holmes when he swept in at the end and solved the case after Watson had done all the work. I was really angry at how Holmes treated Watson. What is their relationship, anyway? Friends? Master and servant? Whatever it is, Holmes has him wrapped around his little finger. Poor Watson has no confidence in himself and is petrified of putting a step wrong. But even I had to be impressed by the lengths Holmes eventually went to to solve the case and the intelligent twists and intriguing clues. In spite of myself, I enjoyed it. Anyway, this wasn't supposed to become a book review!

3. Do 2 pages in Art Journal.
I did one and have finished the other today. I also started two others which I should hopefully finish next month. I've been experimenting more with layering paint and collage elements. I also want to try some more new techniques, so I will continue this one.

4. Utilise drawing board.
I stuck a few postcards to it with blutac, does that count? At the moment it's broken and in the way, but Boy and I made a plan which hopefully we'll carry out this weekend. It's past the deadline, but it'll still happen.

5. Look through old paintings and list one in shop.
I never got around to this. I was too busy playing computer game.

6. Reduce number of projects by 2.
I reduced them by one. I did start 2 projects and then finish them this month, but I don't think that counts!

This is one of the projects I finished:


It's the headband that I crocheted. I'm very happy with how it turned out - only it's a bit too small! I'll have to add maybe 5 stitches when I make the next one. But I can't remember if I did 70 or 75 last time. Am I feelin' lucky, punk?

Here is the other one:


It's a laptop sleeve for my laptop, Lenny. It's just a very simple cover that will protect him from scratches, etc. (Soryr that the photo is so small and fuzzy.) I can feel this is only the beginning of the great pouch frenzy. Soon, all of my belongings will be in pouches! Even Boy! hehehehe

Here's my latest art journal entry. The theme is Spring. And mucking around with paints and collage. I like sticking stuff. It's calming. I really want to start another altered book but a) I already have one on the make; and b) shnyeh, who has time?


Some time ago I also blocked my skinny scarves. I think I've mentioned before that I was happy with them except for the fact that the ends twisted into ringlet curls that would look great on a 5-year-old girl, but not on my scarves! So I blocked them:



They turned out all right - the photos of them didn't! Boy, help!

OCTOBER GOALS:
1. Work 3 hours on Long Term projects.
2. Reduce number of projects by 2.
3. Finish 2 pages of altered book.
4. Re-arrange hobby room: drawing board area.
5. Start new zine. (I signed up for another zine swap. Oops!)


P.S.
Confused by the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis? Read this simple yet biting comic.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Eight Great Products

I've decided to make like a poor person in the interests of my trip that's coming up in about 5 weeks now. However, this has made me even more excited about all the wonderful crafting equipment that's out there. Here's a summary:

Eight Great Products I'd Like to Get my Hands On


1. Padding Compound - This is the stuff that's used to glue notepads together. All you have to do is clamp some pages together, paint it along the edge and Voila!, you've made your very own note pad. For a compulsive list maker and increasingly enthusiastic re-user like me, it would be very handy. You could probably apply it to lots of other craft projects as well.

2. Diamond Glaze - It's a varnish that pours on thick, like a layer of resin, and it can be used on bottle caps, fridge magnets, paper, fabric, just about anything. You just pour it on, without the time consuming mess, faffing around with moulds and noxious fumes of resin. Well, probably not quite as many noxious fumes, relatively speaking.

3. Gel Medium - This medium is used with acrylic paints to change their properties. It can slow down the drying time and other stuff. I found out from the interwubs (bless it!) that you can also use it to transfer images. Paint it on the image, lay it on down face down onto your surface, and rub hard. Peel the paper off and whammo! The image is now on something else! I know this one is freely available, and less than a 15-minute walk away too, it's just that I don't think my credit card can take much more of a beating right now. But I want it!

4. Glitter - Oh sure, it's readily available in Australia, but have you seen how expensive it is? Why is that?? I wonder if I can make my own.... hmmm....

5. Temporary Marker - It's a fabric marking pen that magically disappears 48 hours after it's applied. How wondrous! I really need that cos I tend to go a bit overboard with the dressmaker's chalk and everything ends up with orange marks on it. You'd want to make sure you can finish your project in one go though. Often that's not possible for me!

6. Double-Sided Interfacing - I'm not sure what the official name for this stuff, but it's iron-on interfacing that's sticky on both sides. You'd think it would be easy to get a hold of, but no. The fact that Spotlight doesn't label anything properly and when it does, it doesn't specify one side or both, makes it quite difficult. Grrrr! (*busts a vein*) Boy and I were there just last Sunday, and we had a very stimulating conversation about why less people are shopping at big chain craft stores and how shopping online is much easier and more convenient. On that particular occasion, I would have much rather have spent a little extra on postage than spend money on petrol and parking, waste time wandering around the shop to find what I was looking for, paw through heavy bolts of fabric that were improperly labelled, spend more time in line waiting to pay, and finally leave with only one of the three things I was looking for.
Okay, rant over now!

7. Stencil Set - I never thought I'd hear myself saying that I want a tool that's used in quilting, but there you go! I can't for the life of me cut fabric into even squares or rectangles. They always end up looking really hinky and thus the end product does also! I'd really love one that can do circles and ovals of different sizes for both fabric and paper projects. There are times when I want my work to look handmade not homemade - and trust me there is a difference! I don't mind if a sewn fabric pouch that I'm just using myself is a little wonky, but if I'm putting them out there for public perusal, I don't want them to be too embarrassing. Not that I would try and sell pouches anyway, probably. There's about 3 trillion of them on Etsy already anyway. It must be a Thing. Anyway, I digress.

8. A photocopier - Colour, of course! Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

106 Books Meme

Below are the top 106 books tagged “unread” in Librarything.

The rules:
Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your tbr list.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre - talking book - the tape died.
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies - currently reading
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner ?
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged - it was insufferable.
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo - only the kiddie version.
Dracula
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
1984
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Dune
The Prince (Machavelli, I'm assuming)
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The unbearable lightness of being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Podcastin'



Woohoo! There's a new episode of the Lixie Knits It podcast! [Link is to blog; link to podcast in sidebar] Her boyfriend husband Pooch always insists on being interviewed for the podcast, even though he knows absolutely nothing about wool. In this episode, he uses his extensive knowledge of wines to match with the best wools. It's very funny. There's also an interesting section on knitting bags, and blog reviews.

Gosh, I love Lixie!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Spring Cleaning

Hi!

During last week, I mostly worked on my Art Journal and laying down a base for painting on my art book. I used this journal entry to let out the stress and frustrations of the week, and it's pretty moribund. I did most of it while I was either drunk or hungover. So I'll just show you a detail:


This corner shows how I've taught myself to always find something positive in the bad and try to draw it out.

Materials include: acrylic paint, scrap fabric, scrap clear plastic, sticker offcuts from Kinder Surprises, scrunched up tissue, wine (applied with fingers), glitter glue.

My next entry will be all about Spring! If only the weather would co-operate....

Then on Saturday I made a display board showing all my projects with a bar showing how far off they are from being completed. Basically it has the same info as the sidebar of my blog, except it has the handy bonus that I don't have to log on to look at it! Now when I can't decide which project to work on, I have it all there to help me decide. I laminated the backing sheets and the project cards so they can be written on with whiteboard markers and erased. (The marker I stole obtained from work says erasable on it but geez, it takes a lot of rubbing and spitting to get it off! I wonder if it might have something to do with the laminated surface. Or possibly karma. The concept is solid anyway, even if the details are a bit wonky, I think). I'm finding it handy already.

It helped me decide to rip this:


Yup, it's all gone! Sparky's lovely dress that was reduced to a tunic (due to a shortage of yarn) that was reduced to a funny-lookin, half-finished, shoved-in-the-back-of-the-cupboard bit of a woolly mess. I loved the feel of the yarn, the colour, the lace pattern that alternated with columns of reverse stocking-stitch. It was the human element I didn't like - the wavy hem, the crooked column edges, the wonky stitches around the lace, the atrocious-looking join between the body and the yoke. So in the spirit of spring cleaning, out it went! Sorry Sparky, I'll make you something smaller but much nicer for your birthday this year.

I'm already utilising my rescued yarn to make this crocheted headband. I'm experimenting with a design that pushes the top of the crocheted stitch outwards and turns it into a design feature. (Sorry, no pictures, I can't be bothered. Next time, I promise!) I really like how it's turning out, and I might make a few in different colours. I might actually mean it this time, too!

Meanwhile, I was having a really serious think about this knitted sleeveless top (I believe they're called a shell in the U.S.) that I started about 2 years ago. I'm about 1/4 of the way into it:

[This picture was taken a while back. It's about twice as long now.]

At first I thought, "are you serious, girl? What were you thinking? You're gonna look like you're wearing a Muppet-fur vest!" Then I thought some more and I think it wouldn't be so bad as a cardigan. This piece could be the back; there's still plenty of leeway to make two fronts, a collar and some cute cap sleeves and have plenty of wool left over for making matching accessories. Rockin!

I also completely cleared off the table in the lounge and made it into a painting/drawing station, leaving plenty of room in the hobby room for a sewing station on the big desk. I don't have a picture of this cos - well, how boring would that be?
My only concern is that the light isn't as good in the lounge. You see, the slat blinds are broken in both rooms (long term issues with the landlord, grrr!). They won't go up and down, but I can adjust the angle to let some light in. I keep the one in the lounge permanently down so that when Boy and I are out, rudey people can't peek in at our stuff. The one in the hobby room is permanently open because there's nothing for said people to look at; it's tied open with an ingenious system of cords and old lanyards. I have a small lamp on the painting table in the lounge, but it doesn't help much. I'm thinking of getting a natural light lamp because - well, how cool would that be?

Anyway, bye!

P.S. Monstrous Muriel is in the shop!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Eight Great Blogs!

I've decided to start an occasional series where I list things I like, just cause I feel like it. I've started with my favourite blogs. Well, a few of them. The list on my reader currently runs to 141, and it was quite difficult to choose just 8. Perhaps I should call this Eight Great Blogs, Part 1!

* Meet Me At Mikes - The blog of the shop of the same name in Fitzroy. Mostly art, craft and vintage wares. Full of kitsch, funny, sweet, personal content. Updated frequently. The recent story about how the author helped a drag queen home late one night was absolutely adorable and typical of her generous spirit. I've got this one at the top of my reader!

* Crazy Aunt Purl - Used to be all about knitting, now it's more about the author's quirky life as a Southern gal living in Los Angeles. She posts once every 2 or 3 days, so you get regular updates without it being overwhelming. Her four cats, her commute to work, her out-of-control garden and her wine-laced knitting jaunts are a source of endless amusing stories. She also chronicles her attempts to improve her life by, among other things, deciding that she won't buy anything (unneccessary) for 6 months. I always click onto her blog when I need a pick-me-up.

* Plush You! - These guys just love plush! It's the blog for the Schmancy Shop and annual exhibition in Seattle. All kinds of handmade soft toys are featured, from the amazingly adorable to the truly creepy. The annual Plush You exhibition is on in October, and it makes me want to impulsively buy a plane ticket! I get lots of inspiration from this blog, though I haven't done anything about it yet!

* Crafty Pod - Home of the Craftypod podcast and so much more. Sister Diane is the doyen of all that is crafty, kitschy and fabulous. Her wry sense of humour and childlike glee in discovering new items makes both the blog and the podcast very consumable. (I actually get excited whenever I see a new podcast coming out.) I especially love her regular presentations of vintage booklets with the wierdest crafts you have ever seen. I'm not sure how often she posts as my reader doesn't pick her up properly (*pouts*) but its always a joy to read.
NOTE: This website is now offline. Here is the Craftypod Instagram.

* Joyful Abode - Mostly about cooking, this blog also touches on house-y stuff generally and the author's personal life. (Just recently she held a raffle to help raise money for the vets bills for a stray dog she found recently. She often shares kind gestures such as this.) The recipes are always easy and slip right into just about anyone's life, and she loves sharing tutorials of how she figured out different techniques. She has an online shop selling aprons, stationery, etc, but she doesn't annoyingly drop it into every post like some. This blog always makes me feel like I too, can be a 21st-century Betty Crocker. Posts about 3-4 times a week.

* The Tiny Fig - The blog of Connie, an Etsy seller from Canada. She makes the most adorable kawaii-inspired jewellery and more recently fabric pouches. She occasionally posts about personal topics, but it's mostly about the development of her range and her experiences with new equipment, materials and techniques. Despite the frequent mentions of her shop, she only talks about her experiences, not 'go buy my stuff' type plugs, so it's interesting to read. She is happy to share the lessons she's learned about running an independent craft business, and even hosts a second blog called Sweet Figments, which highlights other sellers. I feel I can really relate to this blog as I have similar experiences and problems as an Etsy seller. I love clicking on and finding out what she's up to!
NOTE: While the shop is still running, the blogs mentioned in this point are offline.

* Accidental Hedonist - This one's all about food, baby! And drink! It includes everything from summaries of current issues (e.g. a spinach recall (?!)) to reviews of kitchen equipment to articles about the history of whiskey and other spirits. The tone is down-to-earth yet knowledgeable. It's a fascinating read from a true gourmand, but it updates a bit too often for me to keep up properly. Still, I try my best!

* D'Blogala - I have only just discovered this blog, but it looks wonderful. It's written by Dawn Sokol, who runs classes and has now written a book about art journals. It's full of techniques, materials and ideas, and she seems very happy to answer reader's questions and provide encouragement. I will definitely have to go through the old posts on this one and I'm sure I'll be painting up a storm in no time! I've already visited Riot Art n Craft for a few supplies.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Mosaic Monday - Lazy




I didn't do any craft at all on the weekend. I didn't cross off anything on my list, or achieve any of my goals.

And it felt great!

How could anyone stay inside on a day like Saturday? 25oC, sun shining, light breeze, blue sky... lovely! A drive, a walk and lunch with some amazing friends and the always amazing Boy. I even had time for a little Op-Shopping. I picked up a couple of wooden bead bracelets, a framed embroidery, and a tin Barbie lunchbox just ripe for major girly radical feminist altering.

And on Sunday, I went shopping! New clothes, new bathers, new jewellery, new make-up. Spring, here I come!



P.S. I didn't even play any Spore!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

What I did last Winter...

... well, a couple of weeks ago, anyway.

I had so many projects in progress that I was determined to finish something. Even if it meant breaking out the needle and weaving ends in! I finally finished these:



I started them in March 2006. This was the most annoying, frustrating and infuriating project I have ever worked on. The pattern didn't make sense, it requires at least 6 double-pointed needles (which means you have to buy 2 sets), for a utilitarian project the back is pretty fugly (picture on the right), it has 12 ends to weave in (24 in my case as I was knitting with two strands), ... well, you get the gist. I feel like I've been whingeing and ranting a bit too much lately, so I'm going to try and cut back a bit.

On a more cheery note, I finished Monstrous Muriel!:


I'm not too sure about the shape of her body and position of her legs, but I love everything else, especially her needle-felted perm. I can't decide whether to keep her, donate her to Softies for Mirabel, or put her on Etsy (my craft inferiority complex being the main reason why I'm wavering on the second or third option).

Meanwhile, I'm mainly bludging of an evening, and failing to get up the motivation to do anything. I did a little work on Scary Selby earlier tonight - it took some courage to try to solve the top-of-head-looking-hinky problem, but I think I'm doing all right. I ran out of steam just before the end and swapped to the beret for a few rows.
I made up a list of things to do on the weekend. I love making lists. It's kinda the only craft-related thing I can do at work without looking obviously like I'm not working. (I did have an actual idea at work that I wrote down yesterday, too.) I have soooo many things on that list that I'm gonna do this weekend! I can't wait!

P.S.
Oh, I keep forgetting - when I was in Daylesford I bought this book:


It's very cool and inspirational. I really have to get out my sewing machine!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Magazines

I let my subscription to Creative Knitting lapse - because it was shit* - and I subscribed to Handmade instead. I figured that as I was branching out in my crafty endeavours, this would give me some ideas for different crafts. I received my first issue in the mail yesterday. Perhaps I should have put in a bit more research before I decided where to switch my loyalties to. Or perhaps it was just an unfortunate issue to be my first. It's the bumper Christmas issue!

Well, I don't celebrate Christmas, and I only like Christmas decorations for their kitsch value, which kinda cuts out anything made after about 1980. Now, if it had a Dias de los Muertos issue, that would rock big time! As if! At least there's some sites in the U.S. that cater to that, like the Crafty Chica. It also had a rather disturbing preponderance of teddy bears. I like most stuffed animals, and even beanie kids, but traditional teddy bears just don't float my boat. Sometimes they even make me wanna cry. I don't know why. I must have deep-seated emotional issues.
Anyhoo.

I've been having a lot of fun making my monsters lately. I like them a lot more than the kokeshi dolls. They can be lumpy and lop-sided and have 7 arms and it doesn't matter. I feel a lot freer and less pressure to make them perfect. In an effort to give them more personality, I've decided to write a new zine called 'Monster Stories' or something similar, with a half-page story about each monster and a drawing of her/him. I might make both black-and-white and deluxe colour versions. Maybe I'll make a little mini-booklet to offer with each monster with the same information. Course, this may take some time as it takes me forever to make each monster.

Meanwhile, my brain has been obsessed with how to turn this into a softie:

An individual of the species Brongla.

It's my first Spore creature! Isn't he cute!

*goes back to obsessing*



* Why was it shit? They take patterns from British magazines (with permission or not, I don't know) and Paton's pattern books for almost all of their content. There seems to be a lot of padding to make the magazine longer - unnecessarily large title headings, etc. Often, the finished item isn't shown from different angles; there's often just a single photo and you can tell the close-ups (when there are any) are all just zoomed in from the main photo. In the last few issues, there were no articles whatsoever. I buy magazines more for the patterns than the articles anyway, but many people don't. Also, the patterns were always pretty dull and uninspired. Yet another plain, stocking stitch jumper with a bit of froo-froo on the bottom hem. I've read similar complaints from other readers on their forums, which they don't seem to have addressed. And really, I already have more patterns than I could possibly knit in my lifetime. I've gotten much better patterns for free, Knitty being only one of hundreds of great sources. Then there's Twist Collective, a new online magazine where the articles are free, and you pay individually for the patterns you want. I must check it out sometime! But to be honest, I've gone off pattern collecting a bit. Even vintage ones don't excite me much anymore. I'm more interested in the pictures in them than the patterns. There's much scanning and printing and collaging fun to be had!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

P.S.

It's Spring!

Yay!

Can't you smell it?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Monthly Wrap-Up


colorful woody, originally uploaded by swelldesigner.


Two months ago I set some crafty goals for myself. I achieved most of them in one day, a few weeks ago. If only more days were like that! Here's a summary of how I went:

1. Increase number of items in shop from 35 to 45.
No chance, no how! It's still 35. This goal was waaaaay too ambitious.

2. Finish 3 older projects.
I finished 2 - the Amigurumi Chihuahua and the Flower Facewashers. I guess 1 per month is a more realistic goal.

3. Re-photograph and re-list 4 projects.
I actualy did 6! Thanks to Boy's new camera and his enthusiasm for trying it out. So that one worked out well!

4. Work on long-term project/s for at least 4 hours total.
I did this in 1-hour blocks and I managed 3. All this energy was spent on the Circular Rug, mainly because it's the easiest one. I worked on this Zombie Project while listening to The Hound of the Baskervilles. Enlightening! I want to find out how it ends, so I'll extend this goal into next month.

5. Improve storage situation in hobby room.
Well, if you count putting away all the stuff that I bought over the last few months, then yes, I did improve things! Mainly it was getting a new eco-bag and going, 'right, that's my new fabric storage area'. So not really.

6. Set next month's goals at the start of the month, not a week in!!
3 days in isn't too bad!

I learned a lot from this and I've adjusted my goals a little bit to reflect the things I'd like to achieve this time, and also the fact that I probably won't have much time in the near future (more on that later). So here are my September goals:

1. Increase number of items in shop from 35 to 38.
2. Work 2 hours on Long Term projects.
3. Do 2 pages in art journal.
4. Utilise drawing board in some way.
5. Look through old paintings and list at least one in shop.
6. Reduce number of projects by 2 (either by finishing or dismantling).

I've tried to keep these a bit light-on this month, as I will be pretty busy. I've renewed my motivation to exercise and lose a bit of weight before I go on my trip, and also..... da da daaaaa!
Spore came out yesterday! In case anyone doesn't know, it's the latest computer game from the makers of The Sims. You manipulate an evolving creature from a single-celled organism, right up to leaving the planet and conquering other galaxies. It's the ultimate god game. It's just my kind of game! =)

See you in a bit. Probably quite a bit....

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Crumpler Bags


The Crumpler Bags, originally uploaded by Kieron.


I'm completely obsessed with Crumpler Bags at the moment. I decided I needed a satchel bag for my trip to Japan. I asked a friend where she got hers, and she recommended this brand. I spent ages surfing their site - aside from the fact there are so many to choose from, the site is really fun to play around with.

And now I understand what the little symbol is I've been seeing on bags everywhere throughout the city. It's a brand, it's a cult and it's a Melbourne design success story!

I must have one! If I had a money tree, I'd buy 20 for all my knitting projects! In reality, it will be really handy for trips to the zoo, and the park and anywhere I'm going to be walking around a lot, basically. I'd like to do a lot more of that when the weather gets warmer.

I want Crumpler!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Sox


After a long time spent ummming and ahhhing, I've finally decided to spend my money on upgrading to a Flickr Pro account. [Link is to my photos.] It was a toss up between that and the bookbinding kit I was drooling at on Etsy last week. It was the promise of three free months that swayed me.

As far as I can tell, you don't actually get much with the Flickr Pro account. Much that I would find useful, anyway. I get access to all of my photos, not just the last 200 (there's currently 262 on there). I can have as many sets as I like, not just 3. This appeals to the organisational side of my personality. Though at the moment it looks like I'll only have about 5, until I start putting photos from trips, etc on there. The other features - like increased upload limit and ability to upload videos - I'll probably never need.

So it was kind of a waste of money.

Oh well.