Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hellenic Reconstructionist Altar Cloth - Part 4

For those who've been following this I know it's been awhile since I've put anything out about it.  Technical difficulties have greatly inhibited progress and Murphy's Law seems to have been rampant through this process as I'm sure you've ascertained.  The biggest update so far is a determination that estimating size with the Jacquard technique in Tunisian is problematic and far from exact.  So we're settling on design elements more and exact dimensions less.  I know that with the dimensions estimated that the cloth will be greater (thus far in width) than the estimated original dimensions so it's not too small which is good - so it serves it's purpose if not altogether how it was originally conceived.

Funny how art has a mind of it's own...much like a living being it becomes what it will become your plants be damned!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Organization @ the Workplace (eg Home)

If you didn't know I work from home.  This lends itself to certain pros and cons.  Working for myself means I can go to work whenever I want.  I can take off days or weeks at a time, have long lunches and my level of productivity is solely derived from myself and my setting of deadlines.

However, as any of you who work for themselves know it's not all cake and pie.  When I'm commissioned, I'm technically working for the commissioner, thereby being judged and otherwise evaluated by them.  So I'm my own boss most of the time, until that comes up.  This for me is quite fine as I am very detail oriented and strive to  please my customers as best I can and being so exacting I can wheedle out any serious issues before even beginning a project.

I happen to be a harsh taskmaster though and my levels of expectation when it comes to productivity are nearly (if not completely) astronomical.  I expect to work more than 16 hours in a day and get "everything" done every day.  Honestly that is quite impossible if you factor in breaks, meals, sleep, and the fact that even just looking at the "work" portion of my day I pile entirely too much in for a 24 hour period.  I have often joked that I need to find a way to add another 16 hours to my day...

Despite my desire for insane levels of productivity I happen to be quite terrible at managing my time.  This may strike you as odd, but really it does make sense.  Many of my artistic conquests take innumberably amounts of time to get things done.  Fiber arts especially being almost 100% always handmade (at least in my case) take hours upon hours to make progress on.  While I'm not complaining by any means as I adore many of these crafts it can be inconvenient to have several to do which would eat up 90% of the hours of the day to make any "real" progress on...*sigh*

So finally, after much frustration and some floundering I'm attempting to instill not just a home routine (which has helped immensely) but also a work routine.  And yes ladies & gents, limits too even.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New DPN Case!

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

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

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

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

More to come later! :D

Sewing Machine Issues - Funny

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bartering! (Shirt VS Bag)

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

*dramatic pause*

A shirt...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Crafting,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hellenic Reconstructionist Altar Cloth - Part 3

Late last night having finished all of the calculations for size and an initial pricing estimate I am all ready to start on this project when I suddenly realize that there is no way that I could do it without altering my original chart (which didn't fit the exact dimensions of what I was working on but now that fact becomes integral to maintaining a certain finished size...)

So I opt to place my chart to the exact amount of stitches across and rows, and even saved the colors in an approximation. I finished it up, exported a JPG and all was right in the world.

I wake this morning, discussing the piece with a friend and show her the remade chart. She comments on how pretty it is and I think to myself that I ought to try something texturally to give definition to the border. Because visually speaking for as "pretty" as it may be to someone who can see that does no good for someone who is blind (which is the case of whom this piece is intended for).

So began several small swatch attempts at different rubbing in Tunisian, none of which really came out "right". Were I to be using regular crochet I could easily satisfy this issues by working in the front or back loop in single crochet or front and back post stitches in double crochet - or even just using front posts and regular double crochet. While I considered changing my pattern for a second I knew that it would defeat the purpose of a "perfect grid" which works great with Tunisian but is imperfect with regular crochet due to the shape of individual stitches. Alas...

*ooo light bulb* One more thought has now suddenly occurred to me of mixing the two techniques...I'll be back momentarily to let you know how it goes...

Back *sigh* first attempt did not work, and a last minute idea while it "works" doesn't yield the effect I'm going for. So for the sake of my sanity and getting this project done I am relenting. Perhaps something smaller at a later date...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hellenic Reconstructionist Altar Cloth - Part 2

An update on our piece, finally I was able to get the initial yarn for the project to work up my swatch and see how much I will need and note the amount of stitches and rows the pieces will be across.

My original dimensions were 21" x 28", but to accommodate the border (which only adds a small amount but what I added I still wanted to fit in with the "divisible by 7" element in the pieces) I've changed it to 28" x 35".

I originally tried to estimate my gauge from an inch swatch, just to get a general idea, but I've noted that it's not as exact as I'd've hoped and the math doesn't match (which means the edging which isn't really a stitch threw it off).

While at the store I looked through the reds - there was True Red & Tomato - and decided to stay with the original choice of Tomato, though in real light it is much more a shade of rust than a red red. Seeing the muted tone of that color I opted to go with Thistle as the choice for the other color, I wanted something of a similar value, so as not to overpower the piece with the accent color.

I will be taking progress pictures, including an initial picture of the supplies & gauge swatch (which will be frogged after it's weighed so I can use all that I have to start with) on the store's Facebook page and my personal Ravelry page.

This piece is turning out to be much more involved than I originally thought it would. I'm not math expert and it truly was a struggle at first to make sure that the math fit the dimensions I wanted. Generally when following a pattern tweaking things isn't hard, but when you're not sure and you don't know your own gauge (as I didn't because I've never worked with this yarn before) it's hard to estimate without an actual sample in front of you!

Stay tuned for more updates!