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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Here A Leaf, There A Leaf ...

Hello again Internet People!  I think I finally have all the background pieces laid out for the Monumental basket project.   Everything is pinned in place and the stems and branches have been trimmed to fit.  Now if I can just get my husband to build me a frame to hold it all I can get started sewing it all down.  

In order to make sure everything went on straight and stayed where it should be I wrapped the fabric around a couple pieces of foam core board and taped it snugly to the back.  I did all the sewing on the basket and the handle while it was taped to the boards.  I don't want to do the rest of it that way because it is a pain in the ass, so I did finally break down last night and ask my husband to build me a frame to work on.  

As ridiculous as it may be, I hate asking my husband for help with things like this.  I really shouldn't, he is usually pretty happy to help me with whatever I want to do, but he is so busy all the time and I hate to bother him.  I have been trying for almost two weeks to figure out how to make the frame myself without bothering him, but I don't have the parts to work with and I have no way to get them without his help.  So when he told me last night that he was headed for the hardware store today I took my chance and finally asked.

While I am waiting for my new frame to be built I still have plenty of flowers to put together so they will be ready to apply when I get that far.  The flowers all go on top so they are the last things to be applied.                                                                   
Anyway, here are a couple of pictures.  They are the same view, but the first one has a light shining directly on it which washed out the colors of the leaves, but it is more true to the color of the background.  In the second picture the background is washed out and the leaves are a little more true to their colors, still kinda washed out, but not as bad..                                      

The skinny dark green stems that are on top of everything, they are for the Crocuses and the Grape Hyacinth, I will pull them back off when I start sewing and put them on last, just before the flower heads go on, and they will be trimmed down to fit when I get that far. 

For now, I think I have finally figured out how I can assemble the rest of flowers before attaching them to the background, so I am going to go work on that for a while and see how it works.  If I am successful I will have more pictures to share tomorrow.  If I am not successful, I will come back tomorrow and cry.  I am probably kidding on that last part.

Until next time ...                 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Its All About The Leaves

Hello again Internet People!  

Well, now that I have sat here for 5 minutes staring at those words I suppose I better start typing something or I am going to be here all damn day. Its not even that I don't have something to write about (that never stops me), I just can't figure out what I want to write about today.  

The basket project is coming along nicely.  I got the sides of the basket and 3/4's of the handle sewn down.  Of course after I got most of the way around the handle I figured out that I wanted some leaves poking out the sides behind the handle, so I ripped the stitches back out on the parts where the leaves will go.  I made leaves for the Eranthis and the Pansies and now I am trying to lay the leaves all out to determine where everybody is going to end up.  I ended up rearranging the flowers, again.  I am not sure why I spent so much time drawing up a design plan in the first place since I am changing it every step of the way, but it does give me a reference point.  Having the drawings of the flowers to look at while I arrange the pieces is certainly helpful anyway.                                    
Once I get all the leaves arranged maybe I will take another picture to share with all of you.  Once I start sewing them down there won't be very many more design changes, small additions I am sure, but no more major changes.  So I am trying very hard to get everything as close to perfect as I can.  I spent three hours placing and replacing leaves last night, and I am still not even close to being done.  Considering that I am only working with a couple dozen leaves at this point I would have to say I am probably obsessing a little tiny bit on this, but that is what I do best after all.

Until next time ...


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Preliminary Picture

Hello again Internet People!  I am here to put in my time at the keyboard before I get to spend the rest of the day obsessing on my project.  I am in the middle of sewing the handle on along the first edge and I cannot wait to get back to work!  I did some more re-designing after yesterday's realization about the handle redesign, only three of the branches will actually go in front of the handle.  I think I have figured out how to stabilize them so that they can stand out from the quilt without flopping around, I just have to work out the details.

Before I started sewing stuff down I spent two days laying parts out and just staring at them for a while.  Trying to establish a feel for what goes where and when.  Hopefully, I have a pretty good working plan now from which to proceed.  I did take a picture to share with you.  Please keep in mind that at this point nothing is sewn down, it is all just laying there in its approximate position to give me a feel for how it will all come together.

 The basket really is straight on the fabric, my picture is crooked.  

I went rounds with my husband the other day over that piece of green fabric I put across the bottom third of the basket.  I was trying to get him to tell me it was a great idea and that it would look awesome, but he didn't quite understand the concept yet so he didn't like it at all.  Once it is all finished you won't see anything except tiny spots of green behind the other leaves and flowers.  I was trying to explain to him the impossibility of placing individual leaves behind everything to cover the background, not that it is too much work, but that it creates too many layers.  I must have spent two damn hours trying to get him to understand what I was trying to do so he would tell me how great the idea was.  He never did.  Damn him.  Oh well, I have convinced myself that it is a great idea, and he just doesn't know shit.  Its working for me so far.

Now that I have updated all of you on my progress I think I am going to go make some more.  Until next time ...


Monday, February 25, 2013

Making Progress

Hello again Lovely Internet People!  Mother had an awesome weekend and she is starting off the new week feeling mighty fine.  Well, other than all the freakin aches and pains, but those are normal, I usually just ignore those.  
I made some significant progress on the "Monumental" basket project and actually started laying out pieces on the background fabric to arrange them.  The end result is not going to look very much like the picture I drew I am afraid.  Because of the fact that I traced around templates to place the flowers in the drawing, the ones in the drawing are all much larger than the actual flowers I am placing.  And I have decided to move the bottoms of most of the branches away from where I had originally placed them, the tops will end up in pretty much the same places but the angles of the branches will change.

I had just laid everything out on my bed yesterday morning to start putting it together and the phone rang.  My eldest son, who had told me the last time we talked that they would not be coming down to visit this weekend, was calling to say they were on their way!  "On your way where?"  Was my first thought.  Once I realized he meant they were coming here, my second thought was, "damn, I have to clean the fucking house today after all."  I told him I wasn't going to do it, they would just have to deal with the fact that my house was a mess.  He grew up with me, he should be used to it.  But as soon as I hung up the phone, my husband and I were cleaning.  So, now we have a clean house again, and we had a very nice visit with the #1 son and our future daughter-in-law. 

Oh, I almost forgot, I did figure out how to transfer the major placement lines for the design from the picture to the fabric.  It was warm enough outside yesterday for me to open the front door and tape them up on the glass of the storm door.  I only transferred the lines for the basket, its handle, and the tops of the branches where they pass over or under the handle because that is all I really want to be stuck with from the original design.  

Last night I came up with a plan to fill the basket handle with a length of clothesline, I think it is going to look really cool.  I changed my mind about discharging the basket fabric, but I am going to pad the basket more than the rest of the quilt so it will have some dimension to it.  And the trim on the basket will be padded even more, possibly around the clothesline, I haven't decide yet.  (The technique is called Trapunto if anyone is interested.)  I did cut out a basket and the batting for it, but it is just a little too small so I will probably end up starting over on that.  Shit.  I just realized that if I cord the handle it will fuck up the branches that were going to be on top of it, unless they leave the quilt entirely.  I will have to do some more thinking on that to figure out how I want to deal with those.

I will work on pressing out branches and re-cutting and placing the basket today, and maybe I will take some pictures to share with all of you tomorrow.  It still takes a bit of imagination to "see" how parts of it will work, but I think it will be mostly understandable.  I think it is looking fuckin awesome, but I may be a little tiny bit prejudiced.

Until next time ...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Do NOT Touch Me!

Hello again Internet People!  I am here a little earlier than usual today and I am still not sure why.  I woke up at 7 a.m., and actually got out of bed.  This is not something that I would normally do.  Usually I would just roll over and try to go back to sleep for another hour, but I was wide awake and there was no more sleeping to be had so I got up, did my morning Facebook and email stuff and now I am here, trying desperately to figure out what the fuck I am going to write about today.

Now before anyone tries to give me a ration of shit for sleeping in everyday you should probably know that I don't get to bed until close to midnight each night, and then I have to wait for my husband to go to sleep so I can turn off the TV before I can even attempt it.  Most nights I don't get to sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning, and then I wake up every hour or so, all night long.  So, getting up at 8 a.m. isn't really as bad as it sounds.  Cut me some slack, K?

I suppose its kind of funny that I hate eating because it takes too much time out of my day, but I really do enjoy sleeping.  It might take up a lot of time and it may not be very productive, but I really do love sleeping.  Maybe it is because I have been sleep deprived for most of my life, but then I have been food deprived just as long so I am not sure.  The only thing I don't like about sleeping is being touched.  Do NOT touch me while I am sleeping.  I have kicked the cat across the room more times than I can count because she tries to lay on my legs when I am sleeping.  No she didn't really go across the room! I couldn't kick that hard from under that many blankets even if I tried!  I did however give my husband a fat lip one night.  I did NOT mean to!  I was asleep!  He was warned not to touch me, he never listens.  Fortunately he does learn, so he doesn't touch me anymore when I am sleeping, at least not on purpose.

My Grandpa was way worse than I am.  I remember when I was a kid Grandma always made sure us Grandkids knew to never touch Grandpa when he was sleeping.  He would wake up swinging if you touched him.  If you hollered at him from across the room he was fine, but get within five feet and you were taking your own life into your hands.  We always assumed Grandpa was that way as a result of his service during WWII, but I am not so sure anymore.  I have never been in combat.

Well, I reckon I ought to get to work on something.  I am not getting anything done sitting here typing.  Except the laundry.  I already stripped the bed and I am on the second load of laundry for the day, so I will have accomplished something today, even if I don't do anything else.  But that's not possible, there is always "else" to be done, and I better get to doing it or it won't get done.  I will be back again soon with more rambling nonsense, until then  ...

Caption courtesy of my 10 year old son

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

Hello again Internet People!  I find myself swimming aimlessly around in my head again today and I must say I am getting a little tired of it.  I have been having a new problem while working on my "Monumental" project and it is starting to really bother me.  Apparently I am developing some sort of arthritis or something in my knuckles of my right hand.  The first knuckle on the first two fingers, they are both swollen and they fucking hurt like the dickens!  The dents and holes in my finger tips have nothing on this, this is painful!  I suppose a normal person would just take a break from the hand sewing for a while and give them a rest, but we all know I am not a normal person.

I did manage to finish about 3/4 of the blossoms for the Grape Hyacinth flowers yesterday.  They are so damn cute!  I am really looking forward to putting this whole thing together, I just hope my hands survive!

I have been doing more research on other people's work and what it really looks like up close, and I have to say I am not doing nearly as badly as I thought I was.  I mentioned a while back that my poor eyesight requires me to get extremely close and personal with my work, which magnifies every little imperfection, even the imaginary ones.  I never looked at other people's work that closely before, but I have started doing so now.  It turns out that my work is at least as good as theirs is, sometimes even better!  I have one book on hand applique where the stitching in the pictures looks like what I did when I was 12!  Maybe I am not doing so bad after all.

In other news, I have been debating starting a new project.  No, not another sewing project, a writing project this time.  I am still deciding where and how I want to go about it.  I thought about making another new Blog just for this project, but we have seen how well I do at keeping up with the other Blogs I already have, so I am not so sure about that idea.  I suppose I will probably just tag it as a special feature here on this Blog, for now at least.  The project will be called "Tales from Camp Purgatory" and it will be a slightly fictionalized accounting of my time "off the grid".  I can't do a completely factual story because there are a lot of details I don't really remember all that well, and I really do not want to deal with my ex-husband sticking his hand out for a piece of my pie, which I guarantee he would do if he thought he could get away with it.  So, while it may be loosely based on actual events, the names and details will be altered to protect me from the guilty.  

Now all I have to do is find a few more hours in the day to get to work on it.  Perhaps I will start devoting part of one day a week to it, or perhaps I will decide it is still just too fucking painful to relive, not really sure yet.  I think there are some valuable lessons to be shared, and I know there are some funny as fuck stories that you all will enjoy immensely, but it was also a very painful time in my life, so cut me some slack if I can't get very far with it yet.  I am doin' the best I can with what I have to work with here.                                   
In the meantime I guess I will get back to sewing and see how much pain I can tolerate today. Until next time:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Lie?

Hello again Internet People!  It is a grey, windy, dreary looking day outside today and I am just sitting here on my bed trying to figure out what to write about today.  Progress is being made on the "Monumental" project.  Last night I figured out how I am going to color the petals for the Jonquils and the fabric for the pussy willows, so I will probably be doing that later today.  

But I didn't want to write another boring update post, we need some more excitement around here!  There must be something more interesting than fabric flowers to talk about, but I am hard pressed to figure out what that is at the moment.  

I was watching (well, I was listening to) a show on TV a few weeks ago about how people like to lie on the internet.  It was a 20/20 or Nightline type show exposing all these people who had made up stories about themselves (or others) and spread them around the internet looking for attention or even money.  I just do not understand those people.  

I have mentioned before I think that I have always seen the internet as the only place I was really free to be honest, it the only place where I do not have to hide who I am and what I really believe.  I don't understand the attraction of lying on the internet.  So you manage to fool people who had no way of knowing any better, does that make you special or something?  I just don't get it.

My life had been fucked-up enough that I don't need to make up stories I guess.  And, although it was extremely important to me as a child to be the center of attention, I outgrew that a couple of decades ago.  Now I would rather blend in with crowd, I don't like being noticed.  I guess there must be part of me that still craves attention, since I am here writing this Blog for the whole world to see, but I still don't try very hard to get it noticed either.  And I rarely talk about anything all that personal, or even interesting.  There is a reason or that.  As much as I would love to have hundreds of followers, I would hate to have hundreds of followers.  Too much pressure, too many expectations, and too great a risk of somebody telling me that they don't like me.

I reckon that is the biggest fear I have.  Because I am being honest and truthfully myself, when people slam what I have to say, they are slamming me.  And I do totally take every fucking bit of it personally.  I know I shouldn't, and I have been working very hard at not doing it, but I still do.  Everything is personal to me.  

The one thing that stuck with me the most about that show was when they went through a list of warning signs to look for to show that someone is making the shit up.  Like an unbelievably high amount of bad things happening in their life, repeatedly and for a very long time without stopping. Unfortunately, that is MY life!  I have had times where it was literally one pile of shit after another being dumped into my life, so much so that if I hadn't been living it, I never would have believed it either.  It all fucking happened though, if I was going to make shit up it would be a whole lot more fun than the crap I have had to deal with, that's for damn sure! 

I guess we should feel sorry for those people who do feel the need to make up shit to post on the internet.  What a very sad life they must have if the only way they think they can get people to care about them is to lie.  I can't even comprehend the level of sadness that those people must live with every day, and I suffered from severe, chronic depression for a quarter of a century!

I cannot promise you that I will always make sense, or that I will always have something important to tell you, but I can give you a 100% money back guarantee that I will never lie to you. Not on purpose anyway.  I might occasionally misrepresent my position on something, but that is a matter of not finding the correct words at the time, it is never about deception!  I might bore you. I might irritate you. I might even offend you.  But I will never lie to you.  Please don't lie to me (unless you are telling me how wonderful you think I am, I can take those lies all day, any day!).

Until next time ...


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Its Magic!

Hello again Internet People!  I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I am not a morning person.  It takes forever for me to get up and moving and put my brain into gear for the day.  So when I originally came up with the idea of using this time of day to do my Blogging I was pretty sure that this was not going to work out very well.  I have never been so happy to know I was wrong.  By forcing myself to get away from my main computer and get over here as early as possible (I only Blog on the laptop, sitting on my bed) I have found that my entire day is far more productive.  It seems that I may have accidentally stumbled upon that "routine" or "schedule" I was looking for a while back.  Now if I could just figure out how to schedule in some eating I would be doing pretty good!

Yesterday I did a whole lot of pressing and ironing.  I pressed the seams on all the leaves I had basted and ironed all the fabrics I needed for the remaining parts of the design. 

The leaves behind them sure do help the colors of the flowers look brighter don't they?  My gawd I cannot wait to put this thing all together!

Yesterday I promised you all a magic trick, so here goes:

 These are the circles I traced and cut for the Lily of the Valley flowers.  You can see the pink lines around the edges.  (The pens are called Frixion, made by Pilot - check out yesterday's post for more info)

I took one of the circles and wrote the letter "L" in the middle so the next step would be more obvious. 

Here I took my little iron and just rubbed it around on the circle while it was hot.                    

Presto Change-o! A clean white circle!  All traces of the pink are gone! A word of warning here - when the ink "disappears" it actually turns white, so be careful when using them on dark fabrics!

 I did manage to cut all the brown branches yesterday, along with the handle and trim parts for the basket.  I am almost to the point where I can start laying everything out on the background.  I should have the Daffodils and Jonquils done later today I think, other than the flowering branches I have all the flowers and flower parts complete except for the Lily of the Valley and the Grape Hyacinth, and those are going to take a few days to complete.  Keep your fingers crossed and I might just have something really cool to show you by this weekend.  No guarantees on that one, but I am trying.

In the meantime, If I am going to get anywhere with this project I guess I better sign outta here and get to work.  Until next time ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Pretty Little Primroses

Good Morning Internet People (It is morning here while I am typing so just go with it)!  It is a beautiful day here at Mother's house and I cannot wait to see what all I can accomplish today.  I am going to have to start cutting those brown stems and that basket out pretty soon, I am just whipping thru these flowers like crazy.  I finished the Primrose flowers yesterday, and the Eranthis, and all the parts for both the tulips.

The colors are a little washed out in the pictures, they are much brighter than they appear here.  These are the Primrose flowers.  Each petal was individually sewn, turned, closed and then stitched together at the points before tacking the tiny yo-yo in the center.   They were so much fun to make I am thinking of adding a few more to the picture.

These are the Eranthis (Winter Aconite) flowers, again they are much brighter than they appear.  Believe it or not, each petal started out as a small square which was folded into a triangle and the gathered along the raw edges.  The little half flower will sit behind the other ones in the finished picture.    

I didn't take a picture of the tulips yet.  They are not assembled.  I still need to press all the pieces before I can put them together.  I have a red one and a yellow one.  Since my background fabric is so dark I doubled all the pieces of the yellow one, and sewed the duplicates together, that should be enough to keep the yellow flower yellow.  I cut out two yellow crocuses as well, so I may need to think about lining them too, that will be a pain, those pieces are tiny!

For now I am going to go finish turning under the edges on the Amaryllis and start on the big leaves next.  Tomorrow I will try to show you pictures of my new magic trick I learned.  I found the most awesome marking pens for use on this project.  They were NOT designed for use on fabric, but some incredibly smart person figured out that they work remarkably well.  They are called "Frixion", they are erasable gel pens made by Pilot.  And yes, they even actually erase from paper!  Not like the erasable pens we had when I was a kid, those were messy obnoxious failures, these are fucking awesome.  They are supposed to erase with friction, hence the name, but they also erase with heat!  (Always TEST before using on something important!)  As I said, I will try to take some pictures later today to share with all of you tomorrow so you can see this amazing trick in action!

Until then I will leave you all with this ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It Is Just So Sad ...

 Hello again Internet People!  I am going to switch gears a little bit and change the subject on you all today.  For weeks now I have been rambling on about this project or that idea that I have been working on.  Today, there will be none of that.  I'll come back tomorrow with another update and (hopefully) pictures! But for today, ... today we need to get real for a few minutes.

I don't know how many of you saw the news, or even had a clue who she was, but there was a Country & Western singer who committed suicide this weekend, and I need to talk about it.  Her name was Mindy McCready.  She wasn't one of the biggest names, but she really did have an impact in my life, and I am very, very sad.  When I started my life over again a dozen years ago or so, Mindy was there.  Her music (along with that of a lot of other people) helped me through to the other side and I will be forever grateful for it.

Her death is sad.  The fact that she left two young children behind, one without any parent, is also very sad.  But what makes me sad is the fact that she didn't have anyone who could have talked her down.  After all the joy and inspiration she had given me (and I am sure a lot of other people), that she had no one to return it to her makes me very, very sad.

I understand the attraction of suicide.  I spent the better part of my life wishing for the sweet release of permanent slumber.  I can tell you today that I am ever so grateful that I did not give in to those desires, but at the time, nothing else offered as much promise for the future as eliminating the future did.  And today I am grateful for all of those years I spent tormented by the living hell that I had created.  I know, that sounds crazy, but it is true.  If I had not had all of those terrible experiences I would not be the person I am today, and if I had given in to the lure of an easy out, I would not be here to enjoy the wonderful life I am now living.

Life is hard.  People are fucked.  Shit happens.  But for all the bad in the world, and there is a fuck-load of it, there is so much good out there too.  It may be harder to recognize, but it is there if you search for it.  And the tiniest good thing can out weigh the most monstrous bad, if you let it.  

I learned the hard way that your life is determined by your attitude.  If you only look for the negative, only give credence to that which is "bad', then you will have a life filled with it.  But when you focus on that which is positive, living in gratitude for the "good" that surrounds you, no matter how small, well, life gets a whole lot better.  I know it worked for me.

There is help out there of you need it.  No one needs to suffer alone.  But no one else can fix it for you either.  You have to make the choice for yourself, and you have to do the work for yourself.  It really doesn't have to be difficult, we tend to make it that way, but it doesn't have to be.  

I just want to close out today by reminding all of you that you are NOT alone.  There are almost 8 billion people on this planet, and at least one of them cares for you.  I know this for a fact because I am one of those people and I do care, about everyone.  You are never alone on this world unless you choose to be, so please reach out to someone if you need help, there is a whole world of people just waiting to help you.                              

Monday, February 18, 2013

Design Progress Report

Hello again Internet People!  Happy President's Day to those of you in the U.S.  And Happy whatever holiday it is today in Canada for anyone who happens to be there.  I know it is a holiday in Canada today, I just don't remember what it is about.  

I never did make it so far as to start sewing yesterday, but I think I will have better luck with that today.  After I logged outta here I started tracing templates onto fabric and then cutting them out.  I am still cutting.  All done tracing, for now, but lots more cutting out to do.  I also need to make more bias strips out of brown fabrics for the tree branches, I have plenty of green stems made, so of course I had to design a project which uses primarily brown ones.

I actually drew out a few extra flowers while I was at it.  I am thinking I might add a couple more Crocuses and another (smaller) Grape Hyacinth instead of moving the pansies to the left.  I have also decided to make the primrose flowers (the little heart shaped petal ones) 3-D and put a couple of leaves behind them.  I still have to figure out how to design a leaf pattern for the pansies, they have jagged edges on pointy spears, not the easiest thing to recreate in cotton fabric, but they will need some kind of greenery behind them and little skinny Daffodil leaves are not going to cut it.

So, now I am filling up dozens of little plastic containers and zip-lock baggies, separating all the different flower parts and pieces.  I tell you what, one of the neatest things I have found to use to keep myself organized are those little plastic tubs that they package lunch meat in.  I have dozens of the darn things and I NEED dozens more!  They are just the right size for so many damn things.  I have 6 of them filled with safety pins, for pinning quilts with, and I can usually pin two twin quilts, or one queen-sized quilt from each box.  

I have always been a re-user type of person, being poor kinda mandates that anyway, but I would be the same no matter how much money I had.  I am always trying to figure out ways to turn trash into treasures, not in the crafty, make a snowman out of a bleach jug way, but more in the creative, use the cottage cheese container lid as a paint mixing tray or for stencil plastic way.  A great percentage of my creative tools have been hijacked from their original intended purposes and re-imagined into something completely different.  I prefer them that way.

Well, if I am ever going to get to do any sewing again I better get outta here and get to work.  I am sure I will return again soon (hopefully tomorrow even) to beguile you all with more of my rambling nonsense, but until then ...


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unveiling The First "Monumental" Design

Hello again Internet People!  Well, it ain't perfect, but it is good the fuck enough.  So here is a photo of my design plan for the first Flower Basket art quilt : 

Not too bad for someone who cannot draw!  The paper is 18" x 24".  I started with a piece of foam core board which I marked with a 2 1/4" grid.  I used my big, four foot level to mark out the lines and it just happens to be 2 1/4" thick, so it made a good grid to work from.  As I mentioned yesterday I drew the basket out first and then laid another piece of paper over it and traced it through.  Then I took the templates for the pattern pieces and traced them into the pattern.  The basket and the branches were the only things drawn "freehand" (I did use rulers, a straight one and a bendy one, but no templates).

The bare sticks are flowering branches and they will have leaves and flowers on them in the finished design, but after drawing them in on the one branch (the Mexican Orange Blossom - upper right) I decided it was unnecessary to draw them all in at this time.  The lollypop looking things are just the centers of the Jonquils and Daffodils, the petals are 3-D and drawing them in was just too distracting.  You can kind of see what I mean if you look at the three circles at the lower left, those are the Eranthis, I tried drawing the petals in lightly for them and it is just messy looking.

After staring at it for a while last night I have decided to flip the Pansies on the right with the Grape Hyacinth on the left.  I don't want to try to re-draw either of them, so I am just making a mental note for that change.  There will also be a pile of Forget-me-nots in the lower left corner, beside the basket, which I didn't draw in yet.  

So today I get to trace out a whole bunch more circles for more of those teeny tiny yo-yos, I need 30 purple-blue ones for the hyacinth, plus however freaking many white ones I need for the Lily of the Valley.  Then there are all the petals for all the flat flowers, I haven't even started on any of those.  Oh, and I still have to go find my basket fabric which is outside somewhere.  I have some ideas I want to play with for the basket fabric, fortunately I have like four yards of the stuff, so there is lots of it to fuck up before I figure out what I am doing.  I was thinking of maybe trying some discharge dyeing on parts of it, so the basket itself is a lighter shade than the handle and the trim.  I have never done any of that before so I am not sure what it will turn out like, but I have plenty to work with so there is no harm in trying it out.

I think my biggest challenge at the moment is going to be transferring the placement lines for the basket from the paper to the base fabric.  Its too damn big to fit on my light box that's for sure!  I have a couple of windows that are big enough, but they are a pain in the ass to reach because there is furniture in front of them.  Oh well, I will find a way, I always do.

For now I think I will go get to tracing circles onto fabric so I can get back to sewing again.  I have spent the better part of a week developing the pattern and haven't had the time to sew, so now that it is done, I do.  And I am.  Until next time:


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Designing And Re-Designing

Hello again Internet People!  After some further research I have started over on my design plan.  It turns out that the wood sorrel that looked so cute in the bottom corner doesn't actually bloom until June.  And there were some other design flaws that I decided would be easier to correct if I just started from scratch.  Fortunately, for once in my life, I actually thought ahead on this project.  When I drew out the original basket I knew I would have more than a few false starts on this project, and as I said I may want to do more than one basket, so I just taped another piece of paper over the top and traced it thru.  So when I decided to change the design, I just took off the top piece of paper and rolled it up for later, and then taped a new piece down on top.  

This time I went thru my big flower book and marked all of the flowers that bloom from February thru April with an orange sticky bookmark, then went thru and made a new list of the flowers I thought I could reproduce.  Now I am trying to arrange them all in the basket.  It struck me yesterday that perhaps a class in flower arranging might have been a little less pointless than I had originally thought, but I think I am doing okay anyway.  I drew in a background lattice of what will be flowering branches (cherry, peach, and Mexican orange blossoms, along with a few sprigs of pussy willows), and started adding the flowers again last night.  I have an Amaryllis, a Grape Hyacinth, and two revised tulips along with the Lily of the Valley and those little yellow flowers I talked about yesterday (they are called Eranthis, or Winter Aconite, by the way) all put back in and I am working on redesigning the daffodil and jonquils to put them back in next.  I decided my original ones were way too big, so I am shrinking them to fit in with the scale of the other flowers.  I am sure the scale is going to be off for some of these, but I am trying my best to keep them all in line. 

It occurred to me yesterday that this would probably be a lot easier if I had waited a month or so to work out this design plan.  Then most of these damn flowers will be blooming in my own yard so that I could take better pictures and have models to work out the scale from.  This is one of the many drawbacks of my obsessions, I cannot wait.  Its okay though, I am having a grand time and that is the most important thing.  If I can manage to hang on to this obsession long enough to complete it I might just have a beautiful picture when I am done, and as long as I think it is beautiful, then it will all be worth while.          
At any rate I am not getting any further with my design while I am sitting here typing so I think I am going to sign outta here again and get back to work.  Have a great weekend!  Until next time ...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Its Friday, and I am Fried!

Hello again Internet People!  Its been a busy couple of days here at Mother's house, and it shows no sign of getting any less busy any time soon.  I am hard at work trying to draw up a design plan for my "Monumental" project, but I haven't gotten very far yet.  I have compiled lists of which flowers bloom when, and their relative sizes so that I can put them together more realistically .  I have decided upon making a basket of flowers, well actually, I think it is going to end up being several baskets, but I am starting with one.  The first one will be a basket of Spring flowers.  So far I have a daffodil,  a Lily, two tulips, two jonquils, some Lily-of-the-Valley, some wood sorrel, three primroses, and three of something else I can't remember the name of, cute little yellow flowers (not crocus, these are smaller than that).  I will shoot a picture of the design at some point to share with all of you, but I don't have time today.  I have been having some issues with trying to lay it all out since some of the flowers are 3-D they will sit atop of other things that are flat to the background.  So I have a lot of places where the lines are over top of each other and it looks like a freakin mess, but I am hoping I will be able to remember what goes where.  I should write it down somewhere, but I probably won't.

We took the kids to the Planetarium last night to watch a show.  That was a lot of fun!  I have never been to one before, so it was a great new experience for all of us.  Of course it cut into my design time so I didn't make very much progress yesterday.  And today looks to be even less productive.

Oh, I wanted to update you all on something else I said a few days ago.  I mentioned that I had learned that I was doing applique "wrong" all these years, well, I was wrong, again.  I found the old book that I used to learn from in the first place, and it shows it being done just the way I have been doing it.  I guess, like most things, everyone has their own way of doing things, and whatever works for you is probably as "right" as it needs to be.  I can see where the way I have been doing it would be better for something that is not going to be backed and quilted, but when the back doesn't show at all it is not so important for it to look good. 

Well, I need to get out of here and go help my husband for a few hours so I guess this is all I have time for today.  Hopefully things will calm down tomorrow and I will work on a better post for all of you when it does.  Until then, ...


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

Hello again Internet People!   Happy Wednesday! Yesterday ended up being a pretty productive day despite all of my efforts to the contrary, and I am hoping for more of the same today.  After a few hours of searching I managed to find some vintage Millinery books with flower making instructions, there are 5 total that I found that I would like to have, and one that I have managed to get so far.  I am pretty sure they are all in the public domain, now I just have to see where I can download them from without having to pay some ridiculous price.  If the original author is not being compensated I don't like to pay very much for a book.  I have no trouble paying a ridiculous price IF the author is getting their share, but I sell public domain books and I don't charge outrageous prices for them.  We even put massive collections together and sell them for way less than some of these folks are trying to get for each freakin book!  

So, I decided that if I can't get the old patterns for free, I will just have to make my own.  A few years back I bought a bunch of flower gardening books when I was going through that phase, and it turns out they are filled with pictures of flowers.  Who'da thunk?  And, not only do they have pictures, but they even have all the information on growth patterns and sizes and everything.  So, now I am re-thinking the design of this "Monumental" project I am working on.  My original thought had been a large basket of flowers, but I had given up on that idea, now I am reconsidering.  I mentioned before that I didn't want to have to think hard enough to make this a "realistic" picture, but maybe I do after all.  I want to see how "realistic" looking I can make at least some of the flowers.  Some of the ones I have already made are total fantasy flowers, they do not exist in nature, but I don't necessarily have to use those on the same project, nor do I have to make ALL of the flowers in this project be realistic, it is supposed to be art after all, right?

I will keep thinking on this.  Today I am working up a list of flowers that I think I can produce reasonable replicas of.  Once I figure out what I have to work with maybe I can work out a functional design plan.  I am starting to get to the point where I have enough parts and pieces to get started on the actual project so I really need to figure out what the hell the project is going to be!

Before I log outta here I did want to share one other little "duh" moment I had this week.  I have made no secret of the fact that I am fucking weird, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.  All of my life I have had this thing about threading needles.  I have always had to do it the hard way, there was something of a "pride" factor involved I think.  I was "proud" of the fact that I always threaded the needle myself, with no external aids.  Well, I got over that this week.  I went out and dug my little "Abe Lincoln" wire needle threader out of the sewing box it has sat in, unused, for the last 35 years, and I put it to work for me.  My gawd it makes life SO much easier!  I don't think I will ever attempt to thread another needle without one again.  Well, not by choice anyway.  So, the next time someone tells you that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, you can let them know that the dog can teach itself anything it wants to learn, at any age.  This old bitch has proven that to be true!

That's about all I have to offer you for today.  Until next time ...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Learning To Sew

 Hello again Internet People!  I almost didn't come here to write today. I am just not feeling it today.  I would much rather be spending my time and energies on sewing rather than writing, but since I am trying to make this Blog a regular feature in my life, here I am.

I mentioned in passing the other day that I have been doing a lot of reading mixed in with all this sewing.  What I did not mention was what I was reading.  They are all sewing books of one kind or another.  And I actually did learn somethings that I thought I should share with all of you.  I have told you all before that I am completely self-taught when it comes to sewing (well most things actually, but especially sewing).  I have never taken a class, I think my Mom showed me how to thread a needle and tie a knot, but beyond that I have had to figure it all out on my own.  And it turns out I have been doing some things backwards for a very long time!  

When I first started sewing I started with hand embroidery. One of the things I learned was that it is very important that the back of the work looks neat and tidy, not a mass of jumbled threads and crap.  When I graduated to hand applique, I kept the same mind set.  So when I sew a piece down, I would do the traveling forward inside the folded edge of the piece I was attaching, the only thing that shows on the back is a tiny catch stitch.  Apparently, this is fucking wrong.  Completely freakin backwards of the "correct way" to do it, where you only catch a tiny piece on the piece you are attaching and travel under the background piece.  Now that I understand how it is "supposed" to be done, I think I am going to have even more fun with it.  The "right" way looks a whole lot easier than my way.

The funny thing about this is that usually my way is easier than the "right way".  There are a lot of things that I don't do the way the "experts" say they are supposed to be done, in pretty much all aspects of my life, but especially in sewing. 

Here is another interesting little tid bit of information that I learned: when hand sewing apparently the goal is about 8 stitches to the inch.  Consistency in stitch size is the most important goal, but all the "experts" in my books say 8 stitches to the inch is good.  Well, it turns out I do 12 stitches to the inch, and pretty damn consistently too.  I had never really paid attention before, but I started wondering last night so I measured off an inch on a handful of the petals I stitched yesterday, and every one of them inches had 12 stitches within it.  I am pretty freakin impressed with myself on that one.

I learned something else too that I wanted to share with all of you, but for the life of me I cannot remember what the hell it was at the moment.  I know it was related to hand sewing, and it was pretty exciting, but I have no fucking clue what it was!  Oh well, it will come back to me eventually and I will tell you when it does.  In the mean time, now that I have put in some time here I am going to go get to sewing.  I'll try to be more entertaining next time.  Until then ...


Monday, February 11, 2013

Its Monday, Again ...

Hello again Internet People!  I spent the entire afternoon yesterday pressing and cutting and pressing some more.  I now have dozens of stems pre-pressed and ready for use.  Since I cut all of the bias strips from fat quarters all of my stems are pretty short pieces, I took the shortest ones and just folded those directly in half.  The longer ones I folded in from both sides, in thirds, like a commercial bias binding.  It turns out I have a real knack for folding bias binding, which came in real handy.  

I also pressed out all of the leaves and flower petals that I had completed so far and I cut up a whole bunch of other fat quarters of various colors to use for more flowers and flower petals.  I didn't do very much sewing yesterday, by the time I was done cutting and pressing I was in too much pain to concentrate for very long.  I did put together the petals for one flower, but that was as far as I got.   I think I need to design some more flowers that are not 3-dimensional to balance out the design, but I am still a long ways off from worrying about that.  I probably should try to come up with an actual design first.  Its times like these that I really wish I could fucking draw!  It would be so helpful to be able to sketch out a design plan to work from.  Oh well, I guess that would probably take some of the adventure out of the process anyway.

Oh, by the way, I just remembered, I misspoke the other day and I wanted to clear something up.  The whole eating issue thing, I said I gave up on the idea of eating every two hours because it was leading me to "obsess" over food.  That was the Wrong word!  The word I was looking for was "fixate".  I make this distinction for a reason.  To me, I have come to see my obsessions as a good thing, they are fun (when I can keep them under control).  Fixations are bad.  Fixations lead to depression and all sorts of bad thoughts and feelings.  I don't like fixations.  So, fixating on food is not a good thing for me, I spent so much energy trying to make sure I stuck to the schedule that I ended up actually eating less than I would have otherwise, and I felt worse about eating less.  That is not going to help, at all.  So, no more fixating, I just need to eat.  And on that note, I hit 98 pounds last night!  Yeah!  I am finally back to being the original "98 pound weakling" that was my claim to fame for so many years.

And now, to celebrate this minor accomplishment, I am going to go make some flowers.  I will talk at you all again next time.  Until then, ...


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finding Flowers for Mother

 Hello again Internet People!  I spent some time last night looking for tutorials for different fabric flowers and oh my gawd did I find the glory hole!  There is a wonderful woman on Pinterest who has pinned dozens upon dozens of them!  Guess where I will be spending the rest of my day? 

I never had a whole lot of interest in making these kind of things before.  Much like the yo-yo's, I thought fabric flowers were cute, but mostly pointless.  Now I am developing a new appreciation for them, especially in how I can use them in my art.  I found a book the other day when I was at Joann's buying that silk thread, it shows how to make the most beautiful fabric flowers using a set of special tools called flower irons.  Of course now I NEED all those tools, but I am trying to not go there.  I do have a tool which is similar, and has some similar attachments, so I can try some of the projects out without too much trouble, but it does not stop me from NEEDing the complete set.  At almost $200, I will do without it, but that doesn't stop me from NEEDing it either.  

So, anyway, now I am looking at all of the other ways people have developed for making pretty flowers out of fabric.  And my goodness there sure are a lot of them!  Now I just gotta get busy figuring out how to make them all, and figuring out just how the heck I am going to put them all together on this project.  I am a little concerned about the weight and stability of the finished piece.  Working with 3-dimensional applique is a lot different than flat work in the amount of support that will be needed to keep everything in place.  

I found the fabric I plan to use as the background, it is about 30" x 36", so it is rather large to start with.  I still haven't figured out how I am going to arrange all of the flowers, I am thinking along the lines of twisting, intertwined vines, rather like a Celtic knot design, with the flowers placed along the vines.  I am not going for realism, I don't want to think that hard.  This piece is supposed to be representative, not necessarily realistic, but I am still a ways off from being ready to place anything on a background so this may all change before I get to where ever it is I am going.

In the mean time I am going to go play with that lady on Pinterest and see about making me some more flowers to go with all of them leaves and yo-yo's I showed you yesterday. I hope all of you get to enjoy your day as much as I plan on enjoying mine!  Until next time ...



Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Lot of Rambling And A Little Bit of Genius

Hello again Internet People!  Well, it looks like this might just work, at least for a little while.  I mentioned yesterday that I thought I might do better at getting here to post something if I started earlier in the day, and here I am!  I even have some pictures to share with all of you this time.  Nothing exciting, well, unless you are as compulsive as I am about these things.  I find them very exciting, but I have mentioned before that I am kinda weird.

Yesterday I talked about how I had organized all of my thread collections.  I struggled for a long time trying to figure out the best way to store the damn things, and I have tried many different options, but these are the ones that ended up working for me.  You know those plastic drawer units?  The ones with like three drawers set in a plastic case?  Yeah, those cases are crap, but the drawers are awesome.  And since they came in a variety of sizes there are drawers available to fit almost any spool size, so that is what I use.  I keep the drawers inside of a wooden chest of drawers which also houses most of my machine embroidery supplies.

This drawer is my Rayon threads.  They are mostly used for machine embroidery but I have been known to use them for any number of applications.  Just not for construction, these are mostly cheap ass threads, they will not stand up to any real stress                   

 This drawer holds my cotton threads (as well as a little drawer full of cheap ass polyester threads).  These are my "go-to" threads for just about everything.  Well, they were, before I discovered the silk threads.

This picture is an example of my obsessive compulsive nature at work.  This is my collection of DMC hand embroidery floss.  I do believe I have every single color they produce (or I did as of 2005).  I actually went online and found a list of all of the colors they made and printed it out.  I then carried that damn thing with me in my purse for months and every time I found the stuff on sale somewhere I would whip out my list, collect a few more, and cross them off the list.  I then wound each of them onto their own little floss bobbin and labeled them and organized them by colors in these great little boxes.  And that is where they have sat since.  I brought them in the house last weekend, I think it is time to put them to use.

 Here is a picture of the leaves I have been working on for the last two weeks.  I counted last night and there are 152 that are either basted or lined and ready to go.  I still have another little bucket of ones I haven't finished yet, but there are probably only about 50 more to go.
  And here are ALL of my teeny tiny yo-yos.  I have a few more blue ones I haven't sewn yet, but I think I am yo-yo-ed out at the moment.  I did find some more uses for them, so I am sure I will make a few more before I am done, but for now I am working on other parts.

Speaking of hand sewing I figured something out yesterday that I NEED to share with all of you.  I don't know how many of you do any hand sewing, but I think most people have a basic understanding of the process.  When I learned to sew I was 10, I had little hands and the thimbles my mother had were all way too big for me, so I never learned to use one.  As a teenager I did a lot of hand embroidery on denim which is extremely punishing to ones fingers if one does not use a thimble.  I found then that band-aids worked pretty well.  The only problem was the threads and fabrics tend to get hung up on the band-aid and they become a real pain in the neck.  Okay, fast forward 30 years, I am starting to redevelop the callouses that protected my fingers, but they aren't there yet.  I ended up getting the back end of a needle embedded in my finger tip and it made a little pocket in the skin which keeps catching the needle and it fucking hurts!  I was looking online at some of these new fangled thimbles which are basically just a thick pad that sticks directly to the pad of your finger.  Now that might just work!  So I was looking at them, they wanted like $5 for 24 of them or something like that, and I almost bought them, but then the light bulb came on.  I have a whole stack of these sticky backed little silicone/rubber dots that you put on the bottom of stuff to keep it from scratching your furniture.  I bought them to put an the back of my acrylic rulers, but I found the cut out portions around the dots actually worked better for that, so I still had all the dots.  And guess what?!  They fucking work excellently!  And they are sticky enough to stay on and to be reused! And I got a pack of 24 of the for like a $1.29!  Some days my brilliance amazes me (well what really amazes me is that it took me so damn long to figure this out, but that's another story).

Oh, I should probably give you all an update on my weight gain plan, I have kinda been neglecting that lately.  I gave up on the whole idea of eating every two hours.  It ended up just making me obsess about it too much and it was counterproductive.  So I have just been trying to make myself eat something whenever i can, and eat an extra bite or two whenever I can.  It has actually been working.  I reached a low of 94.6 pounds, but the scale has since been heading in the other direction steadily.  Slowly, but steadily, and that is just the way I was hoping it would go.  I have found that if I can eat at least two "meals" a day (plus snackings of course) I think I can keep the needle heading in the right direction.  The last time I checked I was back up to 97.6 pounds, if I can just get it back into the triple digits again I will quit worrying about it.  Until then, I just have to find a balance between making myself eat something and obsessing about making myself eat something.  I will get there, it is just gonna take some time.

While we are waiting I am going to go get back to sewing and leave you all with this little gem ...