Back to the needles

…There is a now-sealed hole somewhere in one of my fingertips which proves that I was doing something creative, tonight. 🙂 Particularly…I was toying around with edging/reinforcing hems, and embroidery.

I seem to be particularly good at fly stitch, petal stitch, tulip stitch, buttonhole stitch, blanket stitch, and whatever that variant is which has one making larks-head-knots over the edge of a hem.

I also find it very interesting how embroidery can be like drawing, with mark-making and linear elements being key. There is also the fact that difference in line weight and color are the main ways to vary certain stitches, and that whenever I make a design unit one way, alternate ways to do them, present themselves…

…like the first time I had a go at this and tried to make a daisy, and instead got a maple leaf. Or the time I tried blanket stitch and realized I could write yama, yama, yama over and over again in kanji by varying the height of the anchor portions!

Not to mention that my stitches are like my handwriting, and they are characteristically mine right now in, say, the way that I tend to slant things that shouldn’t be slanted (or at least, aren’t ideally slanted). I’ve been having a bit of a time with keeping the legs of my fly stitches even: I’m having a hard time gauging how much the fabric will “give,” or distort, with a stitch.

I also find it very interesting, how often strategic needle entry and exit points, and wrapping of the working thread around the needle tip, are main components of the stitches I’m dealing with, now.

Right now, I’m trying to get better and more consistent at what I can do, rather than trying to do everything at once. For instance, I want to try feather stitch, but it’s kind of out of my comfort zone right now. Not to mention, I’m not sure I understand the instructions. I’m sure once I get good at and bored of straight fly stitch, feather stitch (like fly, but staggered) will be a welcome bridge into further designs.

I just stopped playing around with this, so no photos, yet. I’m sure that even though I was under a torchiere lamp, the light would have been sub-par for making an image of what I was doing. And some of it is really delicate, using only one out of six strands of DMC embroidery floss, which I’ve found is then broken down into two more filaments…

I do like the delicacy of using one strand, but…doing anything that could be seen, with that, would be a lot of work! (Detail of repeated fly-stitch elements [chevrons] on a collar, though, is something I’m thinking about.)

I find the repetitive work calming, though not boring or stressful (as versus knitting, for me. I don’t knit well). I have to pay attention to make sure the stitches turn out right, because when attention isn’t paid, it shows. What’s weird, though, is that when you’re paying attention most of the time, that shows too, and the errors fall into the background.

Earlier, I was telling D that I feel like one of the differences between the arts and crafts is that crafts are more obviously community-oriented. I have to learn technique from somebody, and heavily rely on skill and technique, so nothing I make is ever fully “mine;” there is always a debt and honor to those who taught me for having passed on the knowledge. (Kind of like martial arts…)

But that (the difference between art and craft) is a question, you know, that I keep going back to and which hasn’t been fully answered for me, yet. I should probably run some more searches on it. I’m wondering right now if there is a difference or if the difference was invented recently for some historical (likely money- or prestige- or sex-related) reason.

Anyhow, it was nice to just be able to work with my hands tonight, and not worry too much about the intellectual content of what I was doing. 🙂 I’m hoping to be able to find colored perle cotton tomorrow (No. 20), at the cute lace store that I found not so long ago. They had tons last time I was there, so it will probably be good.

Speaking of which…I opened the pattern I obtained from that store, tonight. The monpe pattern is extremely simple — so much so that I’m considering machine-stitching the trial pair in muslin — though I’ll have to enlarge it a bit because I’m apparently very curvy for someone who might wear Japanese clothes. 🙂

And, I have plenty of muslin with which to practice embroidery. Not to mention, a few plain mens’ shirts of which I bought duplicates (they were $5 each, on Clearance). I’m not sure if I do still fit them (they’re “Slim Fit”), but I can practice stitching on the collars (collars and cuffs seem to be the first places to get worn through, and if I can edge them, I can protect them and extend the life of the shirts. These shirts, though, are short-sleeved, so I can focus on the collar and plackets first).

The biggest concern I have now is the colorfastness of the embroidery thread, and whether, if I start hand-stitching my own items of clothing, I’ll end up with a bunch of stuff that I have to wash on Delicate or hand-wash or dry-clean (though it probably wouldn’t be as big a deal if there were a lot of it).

There’s that, and the fact that perle cotton and embroidery thread work up very differently…one is round in cross-section; the other, flat. This has a strong effect in how they behave when stitched (particularly in edgings and very very much so in buttonhole and blanket stitches, at least), which is why I’m going to try and get some perle cotton (in a color other than white, black, or ecru) tomorrow.

Also, no: I really have no idea why I like to work with needles. Except, maybe, I’m precision-oriented and highly attentive to detail? That could have something to do with it…

I’ve gotten the idea, also, that if all I want to do is hand-stitch (and also because I love playing with color), it’s possible that I might enjoy quilting. I’ve had the idea before…we were researching it for a bit, and then I laid off of it for some reason that I can’t remember. Was it because I was lacking a cutting mat? I have that, now.

Hmm.

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Breaking out of the narrowness, for a bit:

For Christmas festivities last night, I cleaned off the craft table and stowed some stuff away. When I was putting it back, I used a little miniature set of…well, organizers, which helped very much! I am planning on expanding the organizers soon, which is why I’m not saying what they are, 😛 but…I would hope at least to clean up that area. I would also like to arrange things so that I don’t forget about the resources I have, while chasing after new ones.

For instance, in addition to the drawing and painting which I’ve done and which I have resources for (and which are difficult for me to start, not kidding — though I have been doing some visual research and started with a different method of approach to the painting I mentioned last post: color blocks as versus contour-line drawing), I also have wanted to do embroidery, sewing, and beading, in the recent past. I also have tools for wirework and crochet. And…bead embroidery, now that I think about it. (Also, knitting: but I’m unmotivated at knitting.) 🙂

(EDIT: Oh, and collage and block printing! I entirely forgot about that!)

These things fall into a rather unattended area of intellectual property law, as I would be creating things with the help of others (in the form of instruction in technique). However, they aren’t particularly novel inventions (thus the technique can’t be patented), and don’t fall under copyright, so long as I don’t resell the physical patterns themselves as my own. What remains is down to friendliness, honor, and often-unspoken community norms. That, my dears, is Craft, and it is ruled by “managed openness” (not my term, but I can’t find the reference right now).

One of the main reasons to gravitate back to the Fine Arts, for me, is that the Intellectual Property slog is much clearer, even if so hard to enforce that it’s almost useless. In that case, I’m making images or sculptures or prints from my own mind that would normally not be reproduced by anyone else (until uploaded to the Web, that is, where anyone can download and use my unique contribution without my permission. There is no Universal IP Law that applies globally; it depends on international contracts which no one has to buy into).

And yes, I do believe I’ve talked about this before (possibly not in such detail), under the tag, “copyleft.”

I had entirely forgotten that I have a pattern for monpe (Japanese field pants) and the fabric to make them with (and wanted to make them)! I also forgot that I have plenty of needles, at least one good thimble, hand-sewing thread and basting thread, and sharp scissors ready at hand!

And I want to get back into hand-sewing. I really want to get back into hand-sewing, and I don’t even know why. There is just a thrill in making things, you know?

Maybe one of my gifts to myself this Christmas will be allowing myself the time and freedom to do this. Do anything I want, regardless of whether I can sell it or call it fully “mine” or not.

I also want to read and practice and write, at least a little, in Japanese. For now this will be limited to my textbooks, but I have enough books to give me a good variety of beginning approaches and reading material.

My biggest hurdle at this point is kanji (Chinese-based characters), though the book Beginning Japanese by Kluemper, et. al, starts out teaching kanji along with syllabary (as it’s geared toward AP Japanese students — it seems to move faster, even, than Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa, et. al, though they look like they cover the same material). I need to practice and reinforce what I know and what I’ve forgotten, so that I can move forward.

Maybe tomorrow, I can mop the kitchen floor and lay out, pin, and cut out my pattern on muslin. I know by now that I’ll need to make it a Size 16, which is the largest size available for this pattern. If things go how they may, though…I may start dropping weight on my own relatively soon, because of going off of a medication which causes weight gain. I still haven’t made that last jump to not ever taking it, but right now I’m on a half-dose of normal, and have been for a while.

I do think that it would be foolish of me to state, though, that the weight gain is entirely due to medication; genetics are also playing a role, as is lack of activity. My appetite hasn’t been as much of an issue since I started probiotics (amazingly enough). But since I will need to take a shower soon anyway, it wouldn’t hurt tomorrow to get in some physical activity.

See, I knew that I would get around to articulating my priorities over Winter Break! …about midway through Winter Break, yeah! 😛