Growing into myself: nonbinary gender presentation.

I am not sure if I have mentioned here, my recurring dream series in which I’m investigating (or considering) gender transition. I think it started when my first gender therapist retired. Since then, I’ve been through — a lot. Enough to cause me to wonder if I am following the pattern of having been gender-variant in youth (the stereotypical term is “tomboy,” but I wasn’t a jock), and mainstreaming a bit, in my adult life.

If I think about it, a lot of what was labeled, “queer,” in my youth is absolutely normal for an adult person — like wearing my dad’s old clothes. The kids I grew up with just had unrealistic gender expectations, I think.

It wasn’t until after I was 19 that I learned what, “transgender” meant, and though I feel like I synced very well with the student community at the time, I can’t really trust those memories. Back then, I had a mental condition which was going untreated, which affected my judgment and cognition.

As the memories formed, that is, they were formed on the basis of a messed-up input system, calling the validity of my judgments at the time, into question. The fact is, though, I still have the memories which were made with the invalid encoding…so I have to take that into account when I remember them. I don’t know how else I would remember them, though.

At this point in my life, I’m in a much more stable condition, but there is still the history of about two decades of experience in which I was learning all I could about gender variance. That was two decades of questioning my gender.

I know now that I am likely not a transgender man, even if I may want to be. I’m thinking that it must be simpler (no offense meant) for a person who identifies as something for which there’s already room in society, even if it is an expansion of an existing category. Whereas, from the place I sit, I see no clear and set (and desirable) path forward as regards nonbinary people.

I know that I feel most at ease when I consider myself nonbinary (that is, neither a woman nor a man) — the term “enby” has come up in relation to this on the Reader, apparently a reading of, “nb,” for, “nonbinary.”

Of course…that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is necessarily any less intense than it would be, if I were a cisgender man or a transgender man. What I actually am is something that I’ve decided not to really advertise, because it could get actually intense. And I’ve had enough of that, in my youth.

I also still have anger problems. That’s relatively okay when you’re a kid. Not so much, when you’re a legal adult.

The thing is, it then becomes apparent, when I do come out, that I’m skating under the radar as a woman — when I do not consider myself a woman at all. Regardless of whether I’m obviously female, or whether I wear mainstream clothes. I have no obligation to mark myself. However, I’m not totally settled in this arrangement.

The thought has come up to partially transition (my dream was specifically about getting top surgery so that I could take testosterone and not appear as a man or significantly androgynous person with breasts), so that I’ll be more obviously nonbinary, but that is a uniquely dangerous position in this society. It would seem less dangerous, apparently, than being a transgender woman of color — except for the fact that I could then be mistaken for a transgender woman of color. (Then again, I’m uncertain of the statistics of societal violence against nonbinary people.)

Amazingly, I’m not alone in having a lot of trepidation about that. It’s one thing if you’re driven and need to transition. It’s another if you maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, want to transition, but see people being killed for transitioning.

I also fairly obviously, to myself, have a mental map for a body that leans feminine, even though my gender identity does not coincide with “woman” (and seriously does not coincide with “straight woman”…I just don’t want what most straight men can offer me).

And yes, I do know that a lot of what I’ve been involved with, craftwise, is femininely-oriented. There’s a reason for that: I was trying to get as much out of being permitted to do things like sew and make jewelry as I could, to see if there could be any reason for me to stay female. So now I’ve got a history of crocheting, and stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ The art is more gender-neutral, but again, I have this attachment to flowers…

I mean, you see where I was going with my opening paragraph now, right? But still, those are hobbies, and not anything that tells me who I am. Even if I were male, I’d still be able to crochet, and sew, and make jewelry, and art with floral themes…people may just look at me weird. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And that’s what I’m up against, when I’m thinking about transitioning to a male presentation.

And then there’s all the stuff about arteriosclerosis and acne and body hair, and I tend to back down when I consider that (though I did find my first coarse arm hair, the other day…I’m pretty sure that my body will take care of part of the masculinization process itself, as it ages).

Not that I wouldn’t like to be a buff, soft guy. I think it’s closer to where I am, than not. But that’s idealized, and it comes with a very high price. (It would also be easier for me to go to the gym if men [who see me as a woman] would stop hitting on me. Seriously.)

So at this point…I’m basically choosing not to disclose, or to selectively disclose, my gender status. And I’m not choosing my wardrobe (largely) based on what will get me pegged as a gender and/or sexual minority (GSM): mostly because I’ve aged out of being able to comfortably wear most mens’ pants and shorts (age means curves…and there isn’t anything wrong with wearing clothes that fit because they fit).

Of course, this means that I go around basically unknown; but I was unable to be unknown for years, in my young adulthood. It’s kind of nice not to be singled out.

Right now the thing I’m focusing on is…jewelry. Those of you who know me from a while back, know that I make jewelry. This is the place where I show that I’m different. The issue I’m having with this is that my piercings are now opened to 14 gauge, which is a little more than 1.5mm wide.

This means that if I do make jewelry for myself, I’m dealing with heavy wire and a wider surface which will be exposed to the metal. That’s an issue for me because I am currently unaware as to whether I can absorb heavy metals, like lead, through the tunnels of my piercings, at least if the metal tarnishes into soluble salts. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the specific tarnishes I’m dealing with, though. (And it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort when some of my jewelry obviously has developed something like verdigris on it, which is slightly toxic.)

I do have heavy-gauge “Jeweler’s Brass” wire which may (at times) have a tiny amount of lead in its alloy, which has stopped me from making earwires out of it. I have read the MSDS, which says it should be fine to wear next to skin…but this is a piercing, a scar tunnel through the skin.

The obvious solution is to use Sterling or Fine Silver wire, but that limits my color options. Solid gold is out of the question, though gold-fill is not — it’s just exorbitantly expensive. In addition, all wire tends to take on a satin finish if you bend it enough…and I’m scared of polishing or burnishing the gold right off of gold-fill wire.

In the past, I’ve worked with craft wire (it tarnishes, even when it says it won’t; and never, never torch it [it’s noxious]), and copper wire. I’m certain that I don’t know what other metals besides copper are in the wire I’ve gotten from the home-improvement store, but the latter is what’s relatively safe to braze (torch). The other option is getting metals from a serious jewelry-supply store (not a craft store!).

Also, most places which sell earwires for the jewelry trade, do not sell heavy-gauge earwires. The heaviest I’ve seen in mainstream jewelry-supply catalogs is 18g, with the norm being 20 or 22g.

While it’s relatively easy for me to shape heavy wire…dealing with filing down the end of the wire and then shaping it may require annealing (softening), which requires a torch. Torching wire means having to pickle wire (remove excess oxidation and flux), and after that comes polishing (not to mention the fire-safety precautions that need to be taken when using an open flame).

When the best you’ve got is a Dremel, and you’ve used a Foredom…you really want a Foredom (a flex-shaft rotary tool, usually with a pendant handpiece). But you only get a Foredom if you’re dealing with a lot of serious manufacturing, and it would take quite a bit of sales to make back the $350-$500+ invested. (It’s just cheaper to take a class or lab, at this stage.)

In short, it’s a lot of work. Though — I did just get an idea, which is to wear tunnels and then thread non-metal materials (like threads or cords attached to woven pieces) through there. I have been thinking of going up to 10g, so that should be possible.

Did I ever tell you why I write? Stuff like that comes out. I’m not even entirely sure why. ๐Ÿ™‚

Because of my present size, I also have been taking the opportunity to wear mens’ shirts, partially out of necessity and partially because I can, and they’re more comfortable for me because they don’t show my body as much. It’s more of a comfort when I’m getting unwanted male attention, but that hasn’t happened for a while. (Apparently, it tapers off as a person ages.)

This doesn’t really range into anything where I’d obviously be, “cross-dressing,” however.

It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re female, as it’s relatively accepted for a female-bodied person to wear mens’ clothing, at least where I am. The trouble seems to come in when a person is obviously outside of gender norms and apparently not-male and is looking at mens’ clothing…though the most I’ve gotten are snickers, and the occasional curious guy hanging around.

If, though, if I started making my own clothes, that would open up the field to some experimentation! I would just have so many more options, and ways to self-define. I’ve seen some people doing stuff like this, here. Like I’ve experienced in other places, most of the sewists are female-presenting, though that often doesn’t mean what one might think it means!

I’m relatively new to using my presentation to display parts of who I am, as I’ve had so often to forego that in favor of just being clothed in the best available option (which often boiled down to “what fit”). It will be interesting to see where I take this, in the next few years.

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Good work done today. Resting ’til tomorrow.

Today I dedicated a number of hours (approximately five) to getting a major research assignment done. I need to schedule approximately five more hours before Friday, to complete it (we have a meeting to discuss the results on Sunday, and on Saturday, I’m not available). The professor had said not to leave this assignment to the last minute because it won’t get done; at least now I know approximately how much time to dedicate.

Luckily for me as well, my next assignments aren’t due until Wednesday night (of course, it is now Tuesday morning!). I should still get on the other, weekly Reference Services homework — it shouldn’t be that bad, it will just take time. I also need to get back on my Database homework. For both of these classes, I have some pretty substantial work to do. My third class, Instructional Design, has more lenient scheduling, and nothing due for two weeks.

I was also able to update my Instructional Design curriculum, which was great — it’s starting to actually look competent, now. I didn’t realize I had such a wide variety of information already available on the subject I chose to tackle. Nor did I realize that I had such a wealth of information accumulated from past study and experience (mostly extracurricular).

My workstation here, I’ve realized, isn’t designed perfectly ergonomically, so I have to be aware of how long I’ve been sitting and whether my body (particularly my back) is tightening up. It isn’t as bad as it has been in the past, but the tension is enough to have caused me to wonder whether I should be spending any recreational time at the computer, at all. The alternative is saving my sitting hours for homework, and avoiding this seat as much as possible, in the meantime.

But…it’s not that bad, yet. As long as I keep changing positions, I can delay cramping.

What’s happened is that I think I just have made the decision that I have to immerse myself in this Library stuff if I want to get out with good grades, and with the experience I wanted when I signed up for the classes. I’m actually, honestly (really), ๐Ÿ˜‰ getting to the point where I kind of do want to be a Librarian now, too.

I’m not sure where that puts me if I work in a Public Library: as Reference Librarians are also often responsible for Programming (like Library Programs, such as Movie Nights — not as in programs such as Java), and I’ve taken two Programming classes if you count Instructional Design (the other was Library Services for Diverse Communities). I don’t think Programming would be my strong suit, though.

I am more suited to work on the back end of things…it’s just kind of unreal, realizing that I’ve unwittingly developed skills in Public Service in the past seven years. I’m still an Aide, which is the lowest-ranking paid position I can be in at my Library (largely due to trepidation and fear and feeling like I need to be prepared before I move up — while others with less internal resistance and fear of incompetence take on higher positions), but I do have some of the duties of a Clerk. (Not all Aides at my branch, do.)

Surprisingly, that’s helped me. I know I’m not being compensated in a fair way for my work, being a kind of combination Aide/Clerk and paid as an Aide (although I am working very few hours, to be honest), but really I’m there for the experience, and to build myself up. I’ve grown a lot in this job.

I also only have one more year to go before I’ll be through with Library School. At that point, I’ll be able to become a Librarian (and before then, I’ll be able to become a Trainee, which will prepare me for the Librarian position).

After Library School…that’s still up in the air, particularly right now. But I think it’s best to concentrate on what I can see ahead of me, for now, and worry about the future when it’s closer. After all, between now and then, I’ve still got to get everything in order, including my ePortfolio.

As for creative work, I haven’t been doing much art, because I’ve been working hard at catching up on my assignments. Maybe tomorrow, though…maybe I can try and think of a silk flower arrangement (or more than one), and draw it out while playing with color schemes.

We have something that looks kind of like a hurricane lamp, which came with tulip bulbs which sprouted and bloomed, and is now empty. I want to fill it with some kind of pebble substrate (I’m undecided between glass pebbles and acrylic) and maybe some paper, and put silk flowers into it. I’m also thinking about clear acrylic tubing and shapes.

Eh, that sounds kind of expensive, doesn’t it? Hmm. I have enough to play around with sewing and embroidery again, and that is either noncommittal, or a long-term project — but it’s sounding good, about now! I have some beautiful fabrics; one looks like ikat, and the other is a batik, both deep indigo in tone.

I also found the unfinished toile (practice garment) I was making with the Folkwear Nepali Blouse pattern years ago, but I don’t even have to try it on to know it doesn’t fit, anymore. I’m fairly certain I’m a size 16, by now (and though I have reasons why, I’m not going to get into them; I’ve been over them, before). If I want handwork to do, I can complete the toile.

I’m still undecided as to whether I need to re-purchase the pattern. It depends on whether I kept the cutaway pieces, and I haven’t sought that out yet. Also, the sleeves are a bit tight, and I’m not sure I want them that way. But stitching that pattern by hand, could be very soothing. If I wore the piece, I would just need to wear a tank top or something similar and close-fitting underneath — there are slits at the side seams which show waist.

Right now I’m thinking about light organza bias strips to bind the seams…

hmm.

Yeah, that sounds good. ๐Ÿ™‚

…really good. ^_^

Burnout rebellion

Tonight — or rather, last night, going by the likely time stamp on this post — I did the first thing I’ve done for myself (besides sleep, go to appointments, and work on getting food that will help with my weight loss) in…probably about a week?

A little while back, I think I mentioned there was an uptick in the workload for my 1-unit, 4-week class. If I didn’t mention it, it’s likely because I was too busy working through said workload. The days after that had me nearing burnout and also pushed to work more, particularly where it came to group projects.

Then on Tuesday night, I noticed myself getting a sore throat. On Wednesday, I was running a fever of about 100ยบ F, and had to delay turning in yet another assignment (which still isn’t done). Yesterday was spent nearly entirely caring for myself, though for most of that, I was asleep. Today, the fever was gone, but I wanted to make sure it stayed gone…

After my back started to get sore from being in bed so much today, I got up and pushed myself to do something for myself that wasn’t washing, taking medication, sleeping, eating, or buying food. Or homework, though I still have that late assignment that I can’t turn in after midnight this upcoming day. I wanted to work on it earlier, but then again, I didn’t.

I’m at the age where spending time with family is very important to me (it’s a limited resource), and I can’t concentrate on my work and spend quality time with them concurrently. I can, however, do things that use less mental investment.

I basically made a new piece of embroidery, though I meant it as a trial. I have a (living) fern that I got a while back, which inspired it…

That fern!

It really likes to be in the bathroom. ๐Ÿ™‚ It has a bit of browning from the time when I didn’t know how to water it or that it needed humidity more than light, but the past couple of weeks have had it shoot up two new fronds. This is a 5-Finger Maidenhair Fern, which looks different from the Maidenhairs I’ve had, before. The other ones were lacier; this one has the leaves closer to the stems.

Anyhow, I’ve wanted to try out a fern pattern in my embroidery for a while, and succeeded tonight. I’m not sure now is the best time to photograph it, though, with no natural lighting. Also, I’m not entirely confident in my photography skills where it comes to embroidery, at this point.

On top of that, not only will I have to take the photo, I’ll have to edit it for the Web before I post it up here…not the greatest thing when you have limited energy and time.

As I speak that, I’m realizing that my medicine is kicking in, and my thoughts are getting less verbal. I’m also getting cold, which is probably a signal to get to bed…

I’ll try and post a photo or two, tomorrow (after I’m done with what’s due tomorrow night).

What do I do with my time?

Today was almost totally wasted asleep. I should have taken medication and gone to bed earlier, last night, but there were other things on my mind. Part of that happened to be reading over my backposts for the last semester.

The most bizarre thing about that is the fact that I had been aiming to work on sewing for most of Fall 2017, but didn’t realize it. I actually didn’t cut apart my pattern pieces for the monpe I wished to work on, until earlier this week (well, last week โ€” it’s Sunday still, right?). I still haven’t cut out the pieces for the mockup muslin garment (or toile), though that wasn’t what I had planned to do, today.

What I had initially planned to do was to go out for one or two Fat Quarters in orange and yellow, though I found later (yesterday, actually) that we already had enough here for me to work with. Apparently, my and M’s tastes in color are complementary, with her range toward red/orange/yellow, and mine toward green/blue/violet/pink (pink is desaturated magenta, not red…I probably shouldn’t get into the color theory now).

When I found out I didn’t have to go out, though โ€” and I accidentally slept with the blinds closed โ€” I didn’t wake up until after noon. It didn’t help that it was dark outside from all the clouds. I think I got up, ate breakfast, did something at the computer (I remember turning the lights on instead of opening the blinds โ€” this being apparently more effective), and went back to bed because it was warmer there. I didn’t wake up after that, until D woke me for dinner.

Last night, though…like I said, I had been reading over last semester’s posts, and realized that I had purchased a number of paints that I had never even tried to use. That, in turn, reminded me of my Final Project in Web Design, which I had initially wanted to take much farther than I did, or could, just as a Final Project. I think I still have the papers around here where I was brainstorming a more complete version of it.

The thing about this, though, is that I made a paint table with all the paints I had used in research for the project which I had information about (it kind of goes without saying, but I did use the color wheel I had made in 2007, which used paints which had no pigment code labeling [Scarlet Lake what?]). This included color swatches.

When I set up the final page, though, I found that my color range was skewed toward warm colors. This is the reason I tried to find the Quinacridone Magenta, earlier; though at this point, I haven’t even tried to use the Magenta, unfortunately.

There are a couple of other paints like this, though I’d have to look through my stash to see what I bought and have never used. It would be faster than looking through six months of blog postings.

I also think…that I should take that Web Design Final and just use it as a launching point for a more advanced project. I’m looking at what is there now, and it’s passable as a proof-of-concept type of thing…though in reality, if I make a website that I want to make โ€” as versus something that fulfills various technical requirements โ€” it will look different.

There are two main paths I’m considering: one is using WordPress.org for a baseline thing to toy around with, which should be fairly direct, as I already have been using WordPress.com. However, there is some knowledge I will need which I don’t have, yet (particularly, setting up an SFTP link between myself and the server).

The second option is to build the site from the ground up. This may be a simpler and more powerful option in the long run, and it won’t save me from the SFTP work. But I will need to study and work at it; and I guess the question is whether it’s more important to me to build and tinker with the code itself, or whether it’s more important to get my content out there.

The bright part of this is that building the site will likely give me marketable skills…until technology moves on.

Not to mention, I do have a tool which allows me to run local versions of sites, so I don’t have to wait to set myself up with server-space rental in order to start playing around with visualizing and coding this. More importantly, though: if I want to make a site, it would make sense to start in hard copy, with paper prototypes (ha ha paper prototypes), and really figure out what content I want to post, and why.

I also gotta be honest with myself and realize that the next year is likely going to be taken up with piecing together my portfolio for graduation. I don’t think that’s going to be fun. I meant to get started with it earlier in Winter Break, but it didn’t happen. I just somehow started thinking about how to enjoy my time on the planet (while I still have it) instead of working on graduation. ๐Ÿ˜ก

Anyhow. I need to be working on driving, too, but somehow this is not seen as prime driving instruction time by my family?

What I thought of doing today — while I was awake, that is — was to make a chart by which I could actually tell if the pigments I’ve been told are fugitive, actually are (particularly, Aureolin). I could also work on seeing what colors I actually have, by swatching out what I’ve never even tested.

And I could do some more reading in that comics-making book I asked M and D for, for Xmas. I have enough materials to make a comic. I think I just have to be brave enough to express myself in a scenario and plot…

…unfortunately, what’s currently on my mind is the possibility of unrecognized forms of life communicating with people telepathically. I didn’t really want to get into tin-hat territory, but I can see how one could, now…

First quilt square ever: paper-folding

Hey! I did something today! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰

I thought it would be best to start out with a simple pattern. Last night, I had been toying around with folding the corners of origami sheets to various midpoints formed by other folds.

paper pieces for the below quilt square

The square above is what happens when one folds one corner to the midpoint of one or another opposite side. (I honestly don’t consciously know what happens differently if I might choose a different corner than the one I did…haven’t experimented in that direction, yet.)

Anyhow, I used a straightedge and X-Acto to cut these different shapes out. Then I traced them onto the backs of fabric fat quarters (when I could tell what was the front and the back of the fabric — I failed twice, here, with the purple batik you see below) and cut them out with the new rotary cutter.

What I didn’t realize was how prominent the center cross would be, though it’s possible that this could tone itself down a bit in an actual quilt assembly. The photo below shows what I ended up with, but I still have an approximate 1/4″ selvage on each side (though I measure 6mm much more easily, having worked with beads for so long). Taking that away might help.

Pieced quilt square made today
No, I didn’t realize that dot was right in the center of the quilt square, until I sewed it in.

The color effects here, too, are a bit unpredictable. I had been hoping to make a sort of pinwheel pattern, but you can see how well that turned out.

I’m pretty sure that the difficulty here has to do both with the proximity of the folds to each other, and with the fact that the center stripes are contrasting and break up the pattern. I mean, right now it looks more like a “Z,” than anything.

Maybe if I used different fabrics for each leg of the pinwheel? Or if I expanded the center square.

Right now I really want a bright orange, but I’m not entirely certain, why. Though I do suppose that purple, green, and orange would form a triadic color harmony.

It’s also possible that I have too many cool-toned colors, here, or too sharp a value delineation between the light purple stripe, and all the rest (which are similar value). I do have an orangish-brown fabric that I didn’t break into (I was trying to play it safe), but it could be interesting to see what happens later on.

a possible view of parts of my pattern, interlocked.

The image to the left happened after I questioned what this would look like if I took mirrors (clockwise and counterclockwise folding) of the square I’d done and positioned them in a pattern. It looks like I would get a continual hourglass/diamond interweaving of shapes.

Of course, there’s a part of me that wants closure to this pattern, but it may be better not to have that? It may be too predictable, that is.

But then — I’ve just looked at an image of the original square I tried last night — folding all the corners to identical spots just forms a tilted square in the center, which isn’t really what I’m after.

But…? Maybe it would form a pattern that I can’t predict right now, just like the last one did?

Hmm…

As a note to myself, I might want to try using a Quilting Between needle next time (will it be thinner?) — and reinforce any seam where my thread snaps off while trying to make a knot! This time was just for practice, though…

I should use a thimble on my left thumb to prevent gouging my thumbnail with needle tips…

And also: if I use this pattern for real in the future, it may be best to add a 1/4″ selvage on all edges and transfer the pattern to template plastic…

I knew this blog was good for something.

Over the turning of the new year, I realized a couple of things. One, I have gotten out of the habit of writing regularly, because schoolwork demanded so much of my time — not least, my time at the computer (which is limited due to repetitive-stress concerns: I have had severe pain in my upper back from sitting at my terminal for too long before, and don’t want to repeat it). Two, I have also gotten out of the habit of making art. When starting is the hardest part, that’s not good.

So over about the last week, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my time. Right now I have three weeks to go before school starts up again. It’s fairly evident that I’ve gotten into a sewing kick, but I didn’t realize how to link that and another of my projects — this being the mandala project that I started towards the end of my Art AA and which carried on a bit further after that — until last night. Check the mandalas tag on my blog to see some of this work.

I’ve realized that the paper-folding technique with which I’ve attempted to create mandala art, may be more useful in plotting quilt squares, than I’ve thought. It may even be more useful this way than in its original form, as paper-folding from a square base tends to make four-sided (or “gated”) designs. It was because of this that I eventually migrated away from paper-folding, to utilizing a compass system. However…it seems to lend itself to this.

I’ve been looking around for books on appliquรฉ. I was only able to find one today, but the quilt book I checked out before also has a section on this. Although it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to work on a pieced quilt with geometric designs stemming from origami forms (though I could be wrong: I haven’t tried it, yet), appliquรฉ can basically take any form. M was thinking that I might be really good at it because I work best in tiny, delicate stitches.

Right now, the biggest question is what construction method to use, as a rigid approach would be fine for something I’d hang on my wall; not so much, though, for something I might eventually use. For example, I wouldn’t want to useย glue (as one of the books I found today, recommended), for anything I wanted to cuddle up under. I did find a book which was more laid-back than this, though, which also used hand-stitching as versus machine-stitching (the former of which is basically one of the key reasons for me to be in sewing at all).

I’ve got to return some of these library books.

I have, also, gotten through one chapter on the couture sewing book I checked out, and it’s fairly clear that the entire chapter will be useful.

Anyhow, looking over the blog, the other night, was what tipped me off as to what I had enjoyed before, and directions I might want to go in as regards quilting, now…

I also suppose Iย am working content into my work!

Working embroidery again

Well, I tried to take photos of what I was doing, tonight; unfortunately, only a few of my shots came out as even passable, because I was too close for the camera to focus. I can try again, another day.

fly stitch sampleI was, however, able to improve my skill with fly stitch, a lot. The image to the left is the culmination of that, for tonight. Essentially, fly stitch is a straight stitch tacked down somewhere in the middle so that it forms an angle.

I had been intending to try and make an image of a fern (thus the color of this perle cotton thread), or of a pepper tree. As I was working this, though, I found that the legs of the stitch looked…like pine needles!

I also learned that not everything has to be symmetrical, though I had been aiming for that, just to gain a decent sense of control. What I ended up having to do was account for the amount and direction of pull the thread (in this case, size 80 H.H. Lizbeth crochet thread) would exert on the underlying fabric.

It’s kind of like archery, that way: in archery, one has to account for the peculiarities of one’s bow and adjust one’s aim away from the target, in order to get the arrow to go where one wants it to go.

In this case, I couldn’t line up the second needle piercing of the fabric with the first one and put the third hole directly centered between the two…because that consistently gets me skewed V’s. I have to aim up and above the first stitch, and make the V wider than I think I need to. If it’s too wide, adjusting tension can help fix that (though I don’t know if that will have lasting effects later on down the line).

Anyhow…it would make more sense if I posted a video, but I’m very new to working with video! The point is, I have to compensate for the give of the fabric and the tautness of the stitch, to make things do what I want them to do.

I was very happy when I made the above little sprig. Before I lay down the stitches, I did a running stitch where I wanted to lay down the twigs, then made a small stitch at the tip of the frond, then did fly stitch until the pine needles would bump each other, and moved on to the next bit. It looks really bad if I put all the needles in, before planning where the branches will be…

…and it does remind me of painting, a bit. Experience in drawing did help me here, too.

tulip edging

The above is an edging sample I was toying with, last night: it’s something I would use to try and reinforce an edge (though I’m not sure it would work!). I’ve started on a different version with light blue crochet thread, but all the photos of it came out wonky. With this one, even, you can’t even really tell that I was making half-hitches with the thread over the edge of the hem, because the white is so washed out, but that’s where the pattern began.

Right now I’m thinking of trying a different camera next time; this was shot with a simple point-and-shoot, when I think a macro lens is called for.

But anyway, those violet things are little upside-down tulip stitches (basically a combination of a petal stitch [see below] and fly stitch). It helps that each one takes up about two repeats of the half-hitch pattern. The white cotton is DMC perle cotton crochet thread (Size No. 20), while the pink and purple are DMC embroidery floss (I mentioned last entry that they behave very differently when stitching over an edge — due to the fact that the perle cotton is round in cross-section, and the embroidery floss, is not).

By the way: I did absolutely make it out to the lace store, today. I have three little spools of perle cotton thread which are somewhere between being like a sewing thread in diameter and the DMC No. 20; and one spool of light blue DMC No. 20, as I’ve found pure white to be harsh. I’m hoping to put a herringbone pattern (and possibly edging) on one (or more) of my collars!

I’ve also found that I have consistent “likes,” where it comes to color and color combinations. I can stick with this for now and then branch out, but I find I’m drawn to green, rose/pink/violet, and blue. (I got some Fat Quarters at a different store [little bits of cotton fabric] and was surprised that I had, indeed, picked coordinating colors!)

And…yes…there are a couple of things about that experience that strike me. One is that it expands my options exponentially when I think about doing things for myself, just because I like to, instead of planning to try and monetize them.

Also, this may fill the hole that was left when my local bead stores went out of business (I picked up a rotary cutter and some templates, which…enable me to work on quilting!). The fine handwork portion is there, and the color play portion is there. And if I get good enough, I can even try to enter the State Fair competitions…

Yeah…maybe I shouldn’t think about that too much right now, and get back to what I’m working on…

embroidered red maple leaves

To the right, is the third photo which came out clear enough (and interesting enough) to post, tonight.

These are those maple leaves I was talking about before, which grew out of an attempt to make a six-petaled flower, until I made two petals different sizes and just decided to go with it. So the points are individual petal stitches, arranged in a circular fashion around a central point.

I’m pretty sure that these leaves were made using all six strands of the DMC embroidery floss, meaning I had to use a large needle, which made a large hole in the muslin. I’m pretty sure that there is a large danger of ripping through the fabric at the center, there.

I can see that the botanical theme I’ve been drawn to in Art, is also working itself out, here…I’m kind of wondering if it would be worth it to research floral patterns and nonfigurative art, in light of that.

Anyhow, tonight was…just really kind of awesome, especially when I figured out how to fix the problems with the fly stitch I was working!

I also did some work on re-teaching myself slipstitch, from my hand-sewing class, a long time ago. Right now I am not sure if I want to do quilts or embroidery or garments, more (or all three, meaning I’d have to shift energy and resources): there is a couture sewing book I have right now which is awesome for learning to construct garments by hand (no machine stitching). I’m not sure if I should try and find a copy to put in my permanent collection, or not, or just read it and Xerox what I need to remember.

Of course, a lot of that hinges on whether it’s even available…