Photos. I finally took photos.

I’m posting this here instead of on Hidden Jewels (for now), mainly because it’s a continuation from the past two weeks. I couldn’t concentrate on reading today, so I went back to the photos I’d taken earlier when the sun was at full blast, and did a tiny bit of photo editing.

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To the left, is a close-up of one of the quilting cottons I picked up yesterday at a local quilting shop. It’s a batik, much nicer in quality than the ones I’ve gotten at the chain fabric and craft stores. I can guess at how it was made…and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was from one of the handmade bolts.

I’m just wondering, at this point…if I wanted to go into crafting as a vocation, basically in my case, apparel design or jewelry design (though I’m more interested in apparel design, at the moment)…how I would do that.

M had been talking about my being able to go back to my art after graduation. The one place I researched which I know has a fashion design program, is FIDM, and their biggest selling point is making friends and networking, which isn’t really my strong suit.

There are a number of steps which come before being able to design apparel, however. I’m thinking that it starts with making clothes (or jewelry) from patterns, then graduates into mixing and matching elements from different patterns, then goes into draping and designing one’s own patterns.

My biggest hurdle with this is the fact that my own sense of style isn’t traditional. I can be interested by traditional work, but the lack of readily available patterns for menswear, for example, is one of those things that I notice and don’t really “get.” As a female person who sometimes wears clothing made for men (and who would wear more of it if it were cut for my body), I know that not everyone who is female wants to wear traditionally feminine clothing. I also know that clothing styled for men doesn’t have to look horrible on a female body, but the apparel industry isn’t really geared toward gender-variant expression at the moment.

Anyhow, going off of my last post, I did get up enough nerve to take some more photos. Not a lot of them, mind; I could have gone at it and photographed all of my Fat Quarters, too, but decided to try not to go overboard. 🙂

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The alternative to the carpet background is to lay down some muslin or something.

So…the above image is of the four bits of fabric I got yesterday, about 3 yards in total (each piece is .75 yards), which cost about $38, including tax. For fabric, that’s pretty good. At least it is where I live, where the cost of living is apparently pretty stupid high.

So…the two on the left are batiks; as I said, possibly hand-painted. The second from the right is faux shibori, I believe (shibori is a method of tie-dyeing which can get really intricate, though I think this one is just a pattern). On the far right, I believe that’s an indigo ikat pattern (ikat is a method of dyeing threads in a particular pattern before they’re woven, and then weaving them together so that a design shows up in the finished fabric).

I’m really interested in fabrics right now, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the color issue plus the texture issue. I just get stimulated by color (I still don’t know how or why), and I get stimulated tactilely by working with fabric…which is also a mystery. It’s just nice to feel things that feel nice. Which is weird because I don’t consider myself a highly physical person…cloth is something else, though.

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Above are the Kona Cotton Fat Quarters I got a while ago, on which to practice embroidery. Only the pink has been embroidered at this point, though (I used an orange Olympus-brand sashiko thread which doesn’t appear to be that high in quality). That, in turn, was only a trial where I was pushing myself to do anything except be on the computer. It worked…even though I did the embroidery non-traditionally, because I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t study the optimal thread path before starting.

Well. (It would matter if the stitching was weight-bearing; one of the original uses of sashiko is to reinforce fabric.)

I guess when you just want to get started as fast as possible, to kick yourself out of doing nothing into doing something, it helps.

And I guess we’re pretty deep into the night, now. Here, I mean. I’ll see how I feel, tomorrow. I might want to work; I might not want to. I might be able to work, or not.

Oh, wait: I go to my job, tomorrow.

Coming up, I’ll just start reviewing my old work for the ePortfolio, without committing to writing anything. Working from Competency to Competency, I should have an okay time getting an idea of what to write…my Prof still hasn’t returned my first essay, yet, so I don’t even know if I’m doing the correct work.

I also need to summarize Chapter 1 of the reading for Collection Development, and read over other people’s responses…

I can take my textbook with me tomorrow and try and work through Chapter 2 and review Chapter 1 on my lunch.

I can also take one or more quilting books with me, in case I can’t concentrate… 😉

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Quilting??! (“Why would one need release,” you say?)

I’m experiencing a lot of levels of frustration with my work environment, right now, and the dysfunction is sapping my determination at studying.

On the bright side, I went to the quilt shop, today. I also have a bunch of quilting books to read, if I can pull myself away from what I have to do long enough to devote myself to something that doesn’t have to be done, right now.

Of course, this writing doesn’t have to be done, either: but I have just been so frustrated that I’m like, “screw all of this.” I need to remember, though, that all workplaces are going to be somewhat dysfunctional. My own workplace is likely particularly so at this point, however.

So…I was just reminded to take my medication. 🙂 I also think it’s best that I put the study away for today, even though I have a lot of review ahead of me. This is due to not having stashed my assignments into ePortfolio pools at the time of their creation.

What I need to remember is that if I don’t commit myself to anything but my work, school, and upkeep, I have a good amount of time that I can devote to studying, on a daily basis. I don’t have children or a full-time job, and I live with family. I do have a disability to contend with, but that’s more of a mental struggle, than anything.

Probably the biggest thing I need to deal with is making sure I don’t go off on anyone from built-up stress, meaning that I’ll need to watch my anger level and give myself breaks when I need them.

Right now I’m being distracted by a show on orchids…it’s easy to get lost in stuff like this and lose track of time. Is that a good thing?

Anyhow…recently, I’ve purchased about…3 yards of fabric, and a large ruler to use in rotary cutting. I’ve just been hesitant to start into cutting and sewing. I have to give myself permission to do that, first. It also requires design, which I can shortcut into by reading and following some of the quilting books I have at the moment.

Right now, I’m considering doing a small model of what I would make, using the cheap fabrics from the big-box fabric store; and use the nice fabric for the final version. Or part of it, anyway.

I do have a bunch of fabric. Maybe tomorrow, I can photograph and upload some images. It will give me something to look forward to.

I’ve also decided that I’ll use the sewing machine, which should make things vastly simpler. There’s no real reason to stitch by hand, except personal preference; and I could make something much faster (and much larger and more complicated) by using a machine.

Sewing reorganization.

I’m going to leave continuation of the career questioning for another day. Today, I cleaned off the craft table (again) and reorganized the sewing, needlework and yarn stuff. I’m posting this to remind myself where everything is.

Basically, every small item needed for sewing besides chalk pencils, DMC embroidery floss, fabric shears, transfer paper, and large or blunt needles, is in the small plastic caddy that used to have my Fat Quarters in it. That is, I’ve moved the sewing machine threads, hand sewing needles, pincushion, pins, marking wheels, both hera, sashiko threads, and thimbles, to the caddy.

The new pack of transfer paper is in my white folder; the white Saral paper is still on the table. Embroidery hoops are in the sewing box with all my fabric, including all the Fat Quarters — both the Kona cotton and the patterned fabric — along with the dark blue cotton I got for embroidery.

My new circle templates for sashiko patternmaking are in the top drawer of the black file; my graph paper is going to live on top of the altar table in my office, for now.

I took the Wool-Eater crochet blanket out of the fabric box, and am thinking that I should probably either finish it or find larger storage for it. It’s pretty large and heavy, right about now. After finishing the final rows, I’ll need to weave in the yarn ends; which isn’t going to be fun, but it will make the thing okay to wash.

It’s fairly late right now…I have work tomorrow, as well. I’ve gotten into the pattern section of Japanese Country Quilting…which I suppose I can read more of, at lunch. I think this is enough writing, for today.

Embroidery; wishing to work with fabric.

Right now, what I want to do is sew, or do something else with color and my hands…like practice my writing in Japanese. Sewing…is just very nice when I want to feel something soft and see something come together. I picked up a number of small cuts of Kona cotton the other day, just to practice embroidery and seaming.

The night before we went to the quilt shop, I realized that I could make a furoshiki as a perfect first embroidery project. (I also found a bilingual book on how to tie furoshiki at the Japanese bookstore.) Basically, a furoshiki is a square wrapping cloth that ties up so that you can carry things in it. I’ve read that these could be reinforced with sashiko embroidery, which is a specific type of embroidery focused on running stitch. I hadn’t entirely planned on going for sashiko.

It uses special thread and is usually somewhat geometric and precise. If I’m remembering correctly, we have red and yellow soft cotton sashiko thread; though I should be able to substitute perle cotton, according to the book Japanese Country Quilting: Sashiko Patterns and Projects for Beginners by Karen Kim Matsunaga.

I have perle cotton crochet thread in mauve, white, ecru, light blue, and variegated green…different sizes. The No. 20 feels substantial, though I also have No. 8 and No. 12. The green is from a company called H.H. Lizbeth, and it has a size that reads as, “80.” I’m…not entirely sure what that means, but it’s the finest perle cotton crochet thread I have.

I did retrieve my little sewing box …with a “cheaper” cotton I can practice on. I say “cheaper” in quotes because it probably cost more than what I just got, even though it is likely lower-quality.

Then again, I have something that I thought was a furoshiki until I opened it, and it was actually a heavily-starched washcloth. The label reads, Shirayuki Fukin,” which I think is the brand. After washing and drying, it fluffed up and softened, dramatically. At one time I had an actual furoshiki, but it’s either deep in storage or with family.

I think the hardest part about doing either quilting or making wrapping cloths, is keeping the dimensions accurate. I bring up quilting because…well, I’ve been thinking of going back to it. It’s just how to cut things en masse that is holding me back. Maybe I should just make little quilted sashiko coasters or something else using other forms of embroidery; just to toy around with things and practice, before I embark on a large project.

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:

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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…

Planties! :D

So…within the last three days, I’ve acquired 5 plants! Four of them are little tiny succulents, but still!

Now I’m wondering if I should use the pots here, or get something else for them. Maybe I can go to the Japanese dollar store and find something suitable. M has some pots, but they’re either too large, or ugly.

(not kidding)

I’ve also been working on a quilt square, and found a rubber thimble today which should help. My issue is pushing the needle through the fabric and stopping it with my thumbnail…which obviously is only going to work, to a certain point (the point at which I have no more thumbnail because I’ve gradually destroyed it with needle tips).

Unfortunately, my photo editor is down, for now. With all the updates that have been happening, it could have been anything.

Well, tomorrow is another day. I should be able to pick up some inexpensive ceramic pots…and I admit I am having trouble not thinking of the plants as living things. But “living things,” to me, means that I worry about and have empathy for what I think they may be going through, from what I know about life as a human…not the most rational thing.

🙂 But they’re cute. Pretty much all of them are cute! (I like miniature things, so…)

One pressure valve, released. Two to go.

I can say that today, I gave myself a break from studying. I also reorganized a good section of my art and craft supplies, and me being me, I realized that I have way more than enough stuff to play with. And if one mode of expression isn’t working out, as things currently stand, I can switch to a different medium.

Also, though: I now have 29 different Fat Quarters (quarter-yards of fabric) to work with. Actually, I have 31, but am probably not going to use a solid or the fabric I bought today which I found was screenprinted! The solid was for embroidery practice…and now that I think of it, I have some of it stretched on a hoop around here, somewhere. The other, I really liked, but on getting it home realized that…it’s not at all what I thought it was (the upshot is that I only lost $1 on it, and I can use it for a wall hanging or something).

I have also realized that it’s possible to make a quilt top with nothing more than Fat Quarters and Jelly Rolls (long strips of fabric). And that libraries are sometimes (much) better sources of books than Amazon, because Amazon seems to run on what’s popular more than what’s useful.

So, my last major assignment for Reference Services (the Research Guide thing) went well, though I was up late working on it, and didn’t get to bed until early morning. I had basically been working on it really hard-core for at least three days, which is probably the reason that I barely thought at all about my other two classes, today.

I still have to take my Final in my Database class, which means I should study. Even though the Mock Final was easy, it was also ungraded and just a study aid, so I don’t know if my answers were correct. I’ll want to make sure I can confidently answer the questions, before I start. If I’m lucky, it will take around 30 to 45 minutes. I would like to do that before the material becomes too stale in my memory.

The other thing I have to do is depersonalize my Instructional Design proposal, and make an example of something I would use in my proposed Instructional Unit. That shouldn’t be too hard, and I already have something in mind (a timeline of the evolution of thought around gender variance in the U.S.), but that will likely take more energy than I would like to put into it, considering it’s due so soon.

It’s easy for me to conceptualize what happened in what order, but pinning down hard dates is going to be much more difficult…unless I hardcore utilize some history texts, or contact a nearby Historical Society.

In the meantime, what I’ve started to do is reorganize all of my art supplies and storage, which might get me to use it again. My problem is that things are put away out of sight, and then I forget that I have them. They just become furniture. A bunch of 11″x14″ pads of paper, I’ve moved to the place where I stored my ArtBins, while the ArtBins are now under the craft table. My charcoals and Conté crayons and pastels, I also found tonight. They have an allure — maybe from the fact that they get my hands dirty.

(Though a bunch of my Conté sticks are missing. I’m not entirely sure where I put them — unless they’re with the rest of my unused pastels and charcoals, and there’s a good chance they are. However…being earthtone, they’re best for drawing people’s bodies…which isn’t what I’m inspired by.)

I actually have a set of 10 NuPastels and a set of Sargent Art hard pastels, the latter of which have never been used. The thing about NuPastels is that I know some of those colors are staining…which isn’t really comforting, unless you like that kind of thing (and it is possible to like it). I liked the stained fingertips, before I thought about it a bit (I’m fairly certain the culprit was Phthalo Blue. I still have those little guys [the blue NuPastels]).

The other thing is that they need to be sealed, but I’m not as against using fixative now that I know what I’m doing and also that I don’t have to do it. I’m not forced to do it for a class, that is. My biggest question is trying to figure out if I have the appropriate cartridges for my respirator (I would need “organic vapor and mists” cartridges); but now that I have an easel, I can spray much more easily, and out of the wind.

I do want to try and use the General’s White Charcoal stuff again, though, even though I’ve been wary of whether it’s toxic or not. From what I can tell, it’s likely that the Prop 65 warnings are on there just because of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but without knowing…it’s kind of tough to decide to just use it.

I am cautious, though. I am. And I know what I’m doing, so…that probably makes a big difference.

I also threw out some stuff which needed to be thrown out, and put my brushes into an empty furikake (rice topping) jar, which is almost kind of perfect. I took them out of their travel case, because the case was just getting dusty, and the brushes were staying hidden. I know myself a little better now than I used to. If I can see something, I’m more likely to gently edge myself into using it, and end up painting before I’m aware of myself enough to stop.

So there’s that which I want to photograph — just so I can remember where everything is — and the watercolor lightfastness chart four-month results I never posted here (I’ve eliminated some colors from my “good to use” list, for various reasons, while some — like Prussian Blue, which fades a little in intensity after four months in direct sun, but is still beautiful and handy for mixing, I’m a little torn about. Just get some anti-UV glass and don’t put your paintings in the window, I say).

😉

You know, I don’t believe I’ve taken my medication, yet. I should probably do that.

I was wondering how I could be so energetic, so late…

And before I forget, I’m going to remind myself here that if I am at a loss as to what to do with my watercolors, just try mixing chromatic greys, neutrals, and black, and seeing what comes of it. The test images can be anything I want…