Fabric and fiber

Okay, so now I get to update you all on the quilting progress.

I kind of wish that I had planned out the color scheme better before I started sewing:

IMG_4023w

Right now, I’ve got at least one seam going on one side of all of the diamond portions of this square. Some of the wedges at the lower part of the image already have two triangles sewn to them, though. I’ve been doing this all by hand, so it’s quite labor-intensive. Not to mention, trying on my fingernails–! But I picked up some type of clear flexible rubber thimble, which may help protect the thumbnail I’ve been using to stop my needle.

Something I realized too late was that I would want the edges of the pieces to line up so that they make 45º wedges. I’m not entirely certain exactly how to make sure this happens. I know that after the wedges are made, I’ll want to sew them to each other and then to those larger outer triangles, then sew the resulting squares together.

The problem is that I’ve just been trying to sew 1/4″ (around 6mm) from the edge of the fabric. Not all my cuts are as extremely precise as they would need to be for this method to hold up on a large scale, though.

Right now I’m using mini acrylic shape templates, and a rotary cutter. I have just figured out how all the shapes would be cut out of a strip of fabric, which should help, later. If they’re lined up, they can all be sliced out of one long strip, with minimal waste.

I’ve also just figured out that if I stop sewing 1/4″ from the edge of the piece, I will want to start sewing the next seam at that vertex, again 1/4″ in.

It’s helped to kind of try and lay out what I think I want to do (as I did in my “Ideas” post), because then I have something to measure against when I find something else I also may want to do. These pieces were laying out on the craft table, and when they’re easily seen, it’s easy for me to work on them first. I’m not entirely certain, why.

I also know, though, that I do want to toy around with knitting, more; and at some time it will be worth it to make those pants! I think right now, though, making quilt squares may be less intimidating for me, while I build my skills.

Why knitting? I think I’m attracted to knitting because it’s hard. And because it’s meditative. I used to hate it, but that was when I was in the very beginning stages of learning it (I’m not sure what happened). I still can’t remember how to do a long-tail cast on, but I’ll get it, some time. (It’s possible that I like knitting a lot more now because I’m using actual wool yarn instead of acrylic yarn.)

I also just remembered that I never took photos of all my little knitting swatches…hmm. I should do that…

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Ideas are fun :)

Yes, I am still generating ideas of things to do. 🙂

As I was cleaning up the craft table, I ran across a printout which I realized is the exact dimensions of one of my linoleum blocks (2:3).

flowers in greyscale

The image to the right is what it looks like in greyscale (though I can’t remember if this is the 4″x6″ version or the 11″x14″ version, and am away from my source photos and image editor. It looks like the 11″x14″ version, though). I wouldn’t think it would be possible to do this and preserve the character of the image, but I ran across a posting earlier this week which does show that delicacy can be exhibited by a linoleum block print.

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to look at this in a painterly fashion; I can look at it as something to draw. With contour line in there, I can express the shapes. I can also edit and get creative with the background — with the lower left corner, I’m thinking of blacking it out and adding in lines of light to hint at vegetation behind.

So, there’s one project I can play with. The next one is a bit more ambitious: this is a pair of Japanese field pants (monpe), which I have some nice fabric for, but haven’t started, yet. I know I will have to make a trial pair of these, because with the version of the pattern I have, I’m one size above the maximum (I think I’m a size 16 in Misses’, right now). Luckily, this pattern isn’t difficult to alter, as it’s basically a couple of big rectangles which are slashed and stitched back together.

Apparently, the name for a trial garment is a toile. And…apparently, I don’t have to wash the muslin before I cut and stitch it, though it seems like a waste of muslin, otherwise.

I’m also not sure whether to use the elastic I have for the leg openings at the bottom. This is basically because I know latex degrades, and the elastic I have is YEARS old! But…maybe that’s OK for a trial garment?

In addition…do I stitch it by hand like I want to, or do I stitch it by machine, which will be faster and more durable?

(I think I want to stitch it by hand! I will just have to figure out a method to bind the seam allowances.)

On top of that, there is an option to integrate snaps into the legs, instead of using elastic. I’m just not sure if that’s what I want, yet.

But I guess that’s what a toile is for, right?

(And yes, I do want to make a pair in pink, now, in addition to the one I’ve got planned in black, blue and grey ikat…after this! After this!!!)

Strategy for the Research Guide on Zen & Wabi + Sabi

I’ve realized that I don’t have a lot of time to read deeply in all of my books, as regards my Research Guide. Perhaps I should have chosen something that I knew more about, rather than something relatively new which I was interested in! (I know about some other types of Buddhism, but not overly much about Zen.)

In any case, the Research Guide is the last major project I have to do. I have a mostly-complete project due in another of my classes, and a Mock Final, then a Final in my Database class. The Research Guide is the major thing that’s left to tackle.

(Actually, I just realized that I totally forgot about a couple of chapters of reading, due to the fact that I stopped recording assignments in my Bullet Journal about two weeks ago. However, this is just background information for the Research Guide, and can feasibly wait until after the Guide is done.)

I’m still feeling pretty good, about now; I’m just trying to figure out how to tackle this topic tomorrow. I’ll complete my reading in Six Names of Beauty and look in the two books on wabi sabi I’ve got. A fourth is by D. T. Suzuki, who helped popularize Zen in the West. I will have to look into the chapter where he talks about aesthetics…

And I’ll need to confront the bags of library books, tomorrow. However, I think it will be fun, which is the upshot.

Tired again.

Right now I’m having a bit of a time with wanting to post and not wanting to sit at my computer. Apparently, my old tablet was able to be fixed, but I’m also not working on that, either.

I have a lot to do over the next week, and I’m not really happy about it. I only have four weeks to go in the semester, however. It just feels like I’m wasting my life by planning for the rest of it…but that’s about how I felt through all of high school. It’s also apparent that what I am doing is likely the most valuable thing I can be doing right now.

I just really hate group projects. Not to mention that I’m not comfortable in Database Management and feel like I’m slacking because I’m a week behind (largely due to a month full of family visitations — which can be nice, but they take up resources of time and energy).

And…politics are a bit scary. But the only way I’m involved is by existing and living a normal life, so…

(said every commoner under a tyrant ever)

I also did get curious/fatigued enough to look at my watercolor lightfastness chart. I REALLY REALLY should not use Alizarin Crimson! It’s been about four months since I put that thing in the sun. (Aureolin is still going strong.) The Crimson has just…noticeably faded. I checked that one (as a known fugitive pigment) to see if anything had faded at all. It’s kind of shocking.

After the next week is over, I can try and post some images. I was looking over my backposts and I realized I really, really miss working with color.

Maybe I’ll start looking at tutorials online like I’ve seen others doing, to help me with subject matter and looseness.

Otherwise…I’ve got to go to work tomorrow, and am not sure if it is an additional stressor, or a relief from stress. (Is it procrastination to go to work when you have unfinished assignments?)

I’m also questioning whether I should have stayed in Cataloging despite almost bombing my Beginning Cataloging class (which is the only grade I’ve got at this point which is not some version of A). The thing is, I can’t use Cataloging outside of a library system, whereas I can use Digital Services skills in Web Development and Web Design (which is where I think I want to be…it just may be much more lucrative to be a Librarian).

I am just really hoping that not all Web Development is as math-based as my Database Management class…I work well with languages, but logic problems are a different thing. I should be able to find out whether I picked the wrong path in Intro to Programming, though…and I only have one month left of this semester.

And come Fall, if all goes well, it should be my last semester.

I have a feeling I would be good in Collection Development, too…

What if (things had gone differently)? Math and Design:

I know I was told to stop blogging late at night, but it’s hard when you feel like you didn’t wake up too long ago. I did finally accomplish that shower, though, and I have taken medication already; so I should have a limited amount of time between now and the point where I can’t think in words, anymore.

Right now, I’m wondering how my proficiencies might have been different if I had continued within the Graphic Arts program, as versus the (Fine) Arts program, in community college. I am aware that the Master’s program I’m in now features various Design possibilities, but this is high-level stuff, and not all of it is related to Graphic Design.

For example: Instructional Design, Database Design, Web Design, Interface Design, Interaction Design, Design Thinking…

That’s much broader than I think they would have taught me at the place where I first started looking into Graphic Arts. There were three things that discouraged me from following through with it:

  • A comment from a teacher stating she thought I, “could do more,” than being a Graphic Designer. (I believe she meant Fine Arts or something along that line; by the time I was in her class, I already had a BA in Creative Writing.)
  • My then-dislike of dealing with people; I was told that what people ask you to do is generally not what they actually want done, and it would be my job to find out what they actually needed (much like the premise of a Reference Interview, but I wouldn’t know that until later).
  • The fact that I was told I would either need an apprenticeship or a graduate degree in order to be successful as a Graphic Designer.

And then, there was this bit:

  • Being harangued off of a (supposed) Graphic Design email list for not using my legal name.

At the time, I was not thinking about graduate degrees at all. My prior undergraduate experience (in Creative Writing) had been so stressful — mostly due to the fact that I had a disability that I was only beginning to realize the scope of, and treat — that I didn’t want to deal with the stress of assignments, grades, and tests, again.

Of course, though, work was a scarier prospect, especially as I knew I was starting out from a (theoretically) compromised position. (I have a bunch of intersecting minority statuses that together, well, they work out in the form of my being underemployed, now. Statistically, it’s not surprising.)

I did end up going back to school, but that was to community college. Initially it was to a bunch of art and computer-related classes. Then I got into a Vocational program because I wanted to be employed. I started the Master’s program in Library and Information Science, got culture-shocked, and withdrew for three years (it’s also likely that my symptoms flared because of the stress, now that I think about it).

During that time, I completed an Art degree from the aforementioned community college district, and made decent headway into a General Business certificate (which I decided to pull out of, after Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing caused me to wonder if my business model was actually viable, and what I was actually selling, if I was selling jewelry. At the time, I hadn’t done the introspection on the latter, and as for whether the jeweling angle was viable…it might have been, for someone who didn’t need health insurance, and was working in metal).

With support and about ten years down the line, I did go back to the Master’s program. I’m hoping to graduate this December. This is expressly for my own financial independence, leading to my physical independence. But I am finding that I like the, “Information Science,” portion of this, more than I expected. At this point, I’m wondering whether I will want or need further skills, and if so, in what?

Web Design? Information Science? Computer Science?

When I was younger, I did well in Math until doing well in Math contributed to making me a target of harassment and group exclusion. Because my experience was so horrible (it was: I would literally dissociate staring at my homework), I really didn’t want to take Math again in undergrad work (this is why I didn’t major in a Hard Science). I have dealt with Math four times since high school:

  • In Statistics (completed)
  • In Accounting (dropped)
  • In Calculus (dropped)
  • In Database Design and Implementation (in process)

…And I’m wondering whether to go back, in order to further work with computers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only dropped Accounting because I got seriously ill during the class (I’m pretty sure it was the flu, and that I was not only sick but contagious) and did not feel I could catch up. I dropped Calculus because I had no idea if I was doing things right (and was too shy to engage the instructor for help during Office Hours).

It doesn’t help that I’ve been used to having so much Math homework that it was impossible to complete and check it all, within a night’s timeframe; so for a number of years when I was in Math, I just didn’t check my calculations. I’m also not certain I remember how to, anymore. (In addition, the utility of what we were being taught was never divulged; and I learned to play before working because the work would never end, otherwise. Not a great program.)

At this point I can see the usefulness of taking a gamble with one’s GPA in order to actually learn new things. But it feels easier to play it safe than to risk a poor grade. Of course, though, risking a poor grade also means that I might surprise myself with a spectacular performance, and I’d learn something I didn’t think I could.

I do suppose it depends on what I really want to do (or who I really want to be or become). Or what blocks I want or need to burst through.

I did just remember that there are a couple of places online where I can brush up on my Math skills. Plus, I work in the Library field: we have resources. If I want to enter a program on Information Science alone, I can see that I would need to work on this before taking a graduate entry exam. But what would I do with those skills? I can see being a Full-Stack Developer or something, but…

Hmm. I haven’t thought about it…

Assessing where I am, and looking forward:

Okay,

I have made it through Wednesday and today! (I didn’t expect that.) It was especially difficult to get myself out of bed, today, because I knew I had to update an Entity-Relation diagram and had no idea how I would do it. (E-R diagrams are used to plan database architecture.)

I ended up resting for a bit (even though I felt guilty as I did so) and then evolving a plan for how to tackle this…and, unexpectedly, it worked out!

I’m not sure if I should write down how I did it here, or if that will be too arcane for everyone else who reads this blog…(I can write it down in my notes, before I forget). But for one thing: giant paper helps. Color-coding also helps, and 3″x5″ cards help! I also think that because the diagram forces one to think abstractly, it’s likely a good thing that I’m the one doing it.

There’s also the point that I’m not entirely certain how my brain works. I mean, apparently, it knew how to go through the process. I just needed to be open to it.

Back to essentials, though: I seriously need to wash my hair, and I seriously need to exercise. I also seriously need to clean up my office! There is so much paper trash in here. And my bedroom…needs to be dusted, so I can get back to using my desk.

Luckily, I don’t have to go back to work for two more weeks, unless I choose to, so I have some extra time that I can use to either study or take care of myself (including cleaning up weeks of entropy). I’m hoping to get ahead in my schoolwork, but I’m not betting on it.

A few days ago, I did see my prescribing doctor. I’m thinking that I’ll stay on the same medication I’ve been on. My doctor suggested bupropion (Wellbutrin) to lower my appetite, but every time I start a new medication, I have to adjust to my mind working differently.

I’m already on one medication to counteract the side effects of another medication (drowsiness); the bupropion would be to counteract another side effect, which is the tendency to eat constantly.

As far as I’m aware, I could go on treating side effects of medications that treat side effects forever and end up on way more drugs than are necessary. It’s possible that all I need to do is drink water first, when I find myself hovering around the refrigerator.

Anyhow. I know that the next three days will be a bit tight where it comes to academics, or at least, I’ll have things to do. It would be great to get some exercise in, in the early morning. Today, it was basically storming (which has been rare, this season), so I didn’t go out. Not to mention that what I had to work on, was a group project, and so I couldn’t let it slide.

And I also did finally see that most of my professors have their email addresses on their “Home” pages, not under “Contact”. I’m not sure if that does mean I’m supposed to contact them about accommodations? Hmm.

Well, that train of thought just died.

I suppose that I could also get back to reading. I have one class (Instructional Design) which I may have to do a lot of research for, depending on whether my proposal goes through or not. The way the project is set up, I have to have an Information Literacy basis…and I’m not too familiar with that (which might be surprising, as I’m in a Library & Information Science program).

Also…I’m not sure whether I really want to do MySQL this Summer, or hold off on that and use Web tutorials to learn MySQL, while taking Cybersecurity and Intro to Programming. My fear is that 5 units in Summer Session is going to be way too much, like I could barely handle 10 units this semester, while I had them (my 1-unit class ended yesterday).

Last night I was thinking of just doing Programming and Cybersecurity, and doing MySQL on my own…which still sounds like the balanced route. If I can commit to it.

The weird thing, though, is that I’m not too bad at database design; and I didn’t expect that to be the case. Though my professor did say that Entity-Relation diagramming was something of an “art”…

(sounds like me)

…I did end up using my art supplies to mark out rough drafts of my diagram. It would have been tougher without the materials.

Man, there are so many books I want to read…(I’m looking at my bookshelf, now)…particularly the Japanese language and Graphic Design ones. It’s funny that right now when I look at pages of my Japanese language writing in my photos, I can’t really distinguish them from my English language writing, unless I’m writing vertically. (It all merges into “text.”)

But it is such a big power-boost to be able to write in kanji.

Yes, it would be nice to clean up in here so I have the space to do whatever I want. (I briefly pondered practicing my sewing, today, but just didn’t do it.)

I could also get back on assembling my e-Portfolio, which has had to take a back seat for the past few weeks. The major issue there, is where to host it, and where will it be secure?

But that could be a fun project (especially if I code the pages myself)!

Hmm. I’d just have to keep them securely backed up…that actually does sound fun. And productive. I wonder if I should have a cloud backup, too, just in case…

Moving back to dry media for general purposes.

Instead of roaming over backposts to see various snapshots of myself in time, maybe what I need to do is write. Most of my free time today has been taken up with homework, eating, or sleeping. I’m not sure if that’s normal.

I have 22 pages to go before I’ll have finished my major reading assignment for Political Advocacy, which I should complete tomorrow — and work on the Discussion Topics, as well. I can already start writing on the earlier chapters…I just didn’t. It’s easier for me to intake information than to make something new with it.

Early this morning, I also had to get up for a class meeting, before heading out for a family brunch. After that, I came home and basically fell asleep, and stayed asleep for three hours. (I was surprised, too.)

Oh, wait. I’m missing the part where we went to the art-supply store. I had planned to get some 1/4″ masking tape (to mark off quilting seam allowances) and a bottle of that scarlet ink I mentioned, before. What I ended up doing was spending some gift money on a couple of small sketchbooks and pen cleaning solutions, in addition.

They also have these silicone things called Colour Shapers, which I know I can use to apply masking fluid for watercolors (latex won’t ruin these like it ruins regular brushes)…but I’m intimidated by latex masking fluids just from jump (they all carry Caution Labels; breathing the fumes or touching the fluid can trigger sensitization and allergic reactions). Because the Colour Shapers are expensive, and I haven’t even been using watercolors recently, I let it go this time.

For my own reference, I also do have permanent masking fluid made with liquid wax, which is much safer and is likely what I would try on a first serious test of dealing with this stuff routinely. I had to use latex liquid frisket in Watercolor class, but still…it’s scary to me. Not to mention that it tore up my painting when I tried to get it off.

Also, I’m not sure that liquid wax will ruin brushes at all, the way latex will.

Anyhow. I’ve decided that I’m going to try working in graphite and colored pencil, again, in the sketchbooks I’ve got. I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to carry it (though I do have a satchel bought just for this purpose), but I feel the need to get back to my roots. That means “comic” work — though it usually isn’t funny. 😉

I had mentioned a very long time ago on this blog, the possibility of doing watercolor underpaintings, and then working on top of that with colored pencil. I’m not sure if that would be sacrilege if the paints I’m using are in fact better quality than what I put on top… 😛 …I think I’ll need to avoid the more toxic paints, at least.

Maybe this would actually be a good role for less expensive formulations, though, like the Reeves watercolors which are basically just lying around here unused (they’re M’s, and also really old). There are also my Pitt brush markers, which are fantastic for sketchbooks. And I have the Copics (greyscale) and Tombow markers, as well.

As for colored pencils…my collection begins before the year 2000 and includes Prismacolors (the oldest of which, I might want to replace if I get back into this: the newer ones seem to have much better covering power), Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Blick brand standard colored pencils.

I have one LYRA Color-Giant, which lets me know that the LYRA brand pencils are vulnerable to what looks like wax bloom (though I think they’re supposed to be oil-based, not wax-based?). I have also heard that Prismacolors are vulnerable to this, though I haven’t seen any noticeable bloom on any of my older work.

I’m leaving out the water-soluble pencils, but they would be useful on heavier paper.

So I guess there’s a basic decision there to go back to using dry media for practice and visualization purposes. Although charcoal would be useful, I don’t want to be sealing my sketchbooks, so I’m (reluctantly) going to avoid studies in charcoal within them. (I might still be able to use carbon black, though [maybe], and I’ll definitely be able to use black ink.)

The issue is that charcoal never really adheres well to the page unless a fixative is sprayed (or painted, in the case of underdrawings on intended acrylic paintings) over it. That means that the drawing degrades whenever the book is handled. Though charcoal has been wonderful for layout for me in the past, I hate dealing with spray fixative because of the odor, and I really don’t want to be breathing this stuff.

I can wear a respirator, but I’m uncertain I have the correct (organics?) cartridges to filter out what needs to be removed. (“Organics” probably corresponds to a certain 3M cartridge code, and I don’t know what that is, yet.)

I mean, even hairspray (Aqua Net) in lieu of a quality fixative, smells horrible in the quantities needed to seal a drawing.

My biggest deal right now is whether to go ahead and use my wood-cased soft graphite pencils (multiple brands, but mostly Faber-Castell), whether I want to use woodless graphite sticks in addition (Cretacolor Monolith), and whether I want to use graphite crayons (LYRA) on top of that.

The issue with the Monolith sticks is that they often have random hard bits embedded which scratch the paper. Not an issue when dealing with wet media, but certainly an issue if further work is to be done with colored pencil (the indentation will cause the pigment to skip over the scratch, leaving a light mark).

I haven’t yet found the same problem with the LYRA graphite crayons, but I’ve also not used the LYRAs very much. I do know that Faber-Castell makes wonderful soft graphite pencils, but they lack the impact and expression of either the Monoliths or the LYRAs, because their leads are so thin.

Hmm.

I guess it’s not a bad thing that I’m actually using up my pencils…

By the way, the image in the post linked here was made entirely with the Monolith woodless graphite sticks.

And I suppose it is a good thing that I have too many colored pencils, rather than not enough. But I really need to sort through them again. They’re still in order from my last major work with them, and that’s not great…

Also: Koh-I-Noor makes a set of Progresso woodless colored pencils very similar to Cretacolor’s Monolith woodless graphite pencils, which I would recommend if only for the fact that they lend much more expressive marks, in addition to the ability to “wash” an area with the flat of the side of the tip (if that makes sense).

No, they aren’t paying me. 🙂 And no, you don’t need to buy them. 🙂 But I might start carrying mine, with me. The issue is how to carry as little as possible, and still enough.

I think I feel better, now, after having written that and gone through my backposts. It’s good to have a sense of continuity. That is what I set this blog up for, in the first place…