Sunday, March 29, 2009

More on Fabrics:Nylon, a brief introduction

As most people know, nylon is a synthetic, intended to replace silk, that became popular during WWII when silk was scarce. I often wondered if the soldiers wore silk undies but really it was for parachutes and I expect silk was really difficult to get. Of course women still had to wear their stockings, soon to be called nylons, later to be called panty hose. I never got the attraction of those things. Silk on my bare legs, nice. Plastic polymers, yuck. So I got all sidetracked looking at synthetic fabrics and plastics. Did you know that there is a "Plastics Hall of Fame?"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sewing as Poetry

One of my other art outlets is poetry. I had a reading at a local bookstore last weekend so was consumed with rewriting. I also wrote this (not my best, but apropos):

Learning to Sew on a 1954 Singer Featherweight

First year 4-H, make a scarf and a handkerchief:
use an iron without getting burned;
stitch a straight seam on the sewing machine;
pivot and sew another straight line,
pink with shears (so as not to cut through
the seam that you just sewed). Tie a knot.

Second year, sew a practical apron:
learn how to gather a seam,
bunch the fabric for an attractive pouf;
learn to sew on pockets—
presumably for handkerchiefs
when weeping in the kitchen.

By the fifth year make a lined,
formal dress. Do not plan
on wearing it to the prom.
The color will be garish,
the left breast will sag.
You will stop sewing for 20 years.

I am mesmerized by the needle
dipping in and out of the fabric,
ten, twelve stitches per inch,
a locking line of thread
linking two pieces together.

None of the other stuff, before
or after, interests me:

agonizing over choices of fabric,
pre-washing the cloth, ironing,
measuring, pinning, cutting patterns,
winding the bobbin, threading the needle.

The smell of the machine oil
and the whir of the wheel
keeps me sewing, anything
with long, straight lines.

Theresa, Poetmama

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The not-so-long awaited cat nip sweater!

A few days ago two packages showed up in my post box. Though both were addressed to me, neither of the them really was meant for me. One of them was a handmade surprise for my mum that was wrongly shipped to me and the other was Katina's little cat nip sweater toy. Of course mum hadn't forgotten about me. I got some sweet little froggy stickers and a wonderful book about a capy, one of the cute R.U.S.S., who lived with a family. But I couldn't give Katina her toy right then because my camera batteries had died, again. This morning I got up "early," did a few chores, and headed out the door for my yucky but conveniently located super market chain to get some batteries. We don't use batteries for that many things but we do go through them like crazy. I decided to buckle down and buy the recharge-ables and a charger since they were slightly on sale. just beat the wonderful rain back to the apartment I was happy to find out the batteries were pre-charged. I plopped the batteries in my camera and tossed Katina her toy I had been telling her about the past two days. Since then she has been sitting on it looking out the patio screen, tossing it around now and then, and trying to rip it open with her vicious little kitty teeth. I think she would give it two thumbs up if she had proper thumbs. I wasn't able to get the best action shots of her because she refused to act out for the camera. She is definitely an embarrass-able little kitty but I could tell she loves her sweater toy. Thanks Mum!
Happy Crafting!
Cerise : )

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crafter Feature: Elephant and Chickpea

I should be working on my history paper, but I just couldn't wait to post my recent favorite Etsy store find. The elegant picture of a pair of light strawberry colored Mary Jane house shoes on the front page of Etsy the other day instantly caught my attention. When I read on about the house shoes, I was happy to find that the soles are made of upcycled denim and leather and gorgeous upcyled and natural fabrics. Not only are they beautiful (and most likely practically comfortable) they are eco-friendly as well!

Elephant and Chickpea, located in Vancouver, Canada, currently have four shoe styles to choose from: Mary Janes, loafers, T-straps, and ballet flats. Stop by Elephant and Chickpea's store and blog and take a peek at the wonderful assortment of house shoes. Like me, I bet you'll find a pair to fall in love with!
Happy Crafting!
Cerise : )

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Photographing Old School

In my third issue of CRAFT magazine, which will no longer be published (yes, I feel I got screwed out of my fourth magazine), there was an article about Polaroid emulsion transfer which allows you to transfer images from photos you take onto any object you want. I became quite enthralled with this process that I went on a hunt for a Polaroid camera. Being the whimsy, go-getter that I am, I didn't research my cameras closely enough before buying a Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera. When I got my film a week later, I couldn't get it to fit in the camera. I realized that I had purchased the wrong camera. Luckily it was an inexpensive eBay purchase. I went back to the gargantuous online auction site and found the pack film camera I needed (after extensive research this time). I won the bid on my wonderful, old 1970s Polaroid camera in is nice carrying box with a flash holder and old flash cube. I could hardly wait! When the Polaroid Countdown 90 Land Camera arrived in the post box I ribbed open the package and quickly briefed myself on how to load the film. I got my film pack in and was ready to take photos when I realized I didn't have batteries. Searching "local" camera stores, I found that my battery need was very specialized and pricier than some batteries. I went back to my online film site and found my weird batteries and decided to order more pack film while I was there. So I waited once more fore a package to creativity.

On Friday I came home to a package tucked into the corner of my porch, tottling on the edge of my doormat. I squealed with excitement and quickly opened my door. I threw down my bags of groceries, tore open the package, grabbed my second Polaroid camera, and proceeded to clip in the batteries. With the metal-to-metal contact of the second battery and buzzing, beeping sound was emitted from the camera. Another squeal. I took some pictures of my cute guinea pig hanging out on the bed and was very disappointed in my photos. Big white blurry streaks and a faint hint of a pig somewhere in the middle. I took a few more and again got blurry blobs of guinea pig and bedspread but managed to get better developing this time. Still saddened by my ghostly photos I headed out to the balcony and took a picture of the cat stretching out. Blurry and dark. Then the red lanterns hanging from the awning. A bit more artistic this time but still not a clear image. Then I tried to capture some things around the living room and even dale with a lamp much too close to his face. Nothing but black squares and clownish out of focus person. Disappointed that something was wrong with the camera after my long, anxious wait, I put the the Countdown 90 back in it's slightly moldy black box and put it back on my crafts books in the corner.

On Saturday I became determined to figure out what was wrong with the camera after a few more blurry tries. Surely I could get it to take a decent photograph. I was still befuddled by the number 2 on the red button on the top and the number 3 on the lever to ready a new sheet on film near the lens. Where was number 1? I browsed the book, remembering a picture of a bob-haired blond model being used to show focused and non-focused images. Of course! The number one had been in front of my face the whole time and I didn't realize there was a focus finder next the the view finder. The cat, staring at me from her perch in the window, stared at me and listened to my gasp of excitement. She was my view finder victim. Too close at first, I backed away, slide the number 1 component sideways, and voila! I had her in focus. Click, pull, pull, beep, peel, and there was the cat, right out of a 1970s photo album, perched in the window on that classic white backed little rectangle photo paper, sharp as a digital snapshot. At last! I grabbed the guinea pig and recreated the bedspread background and repeated the Polaroid process. Again, a crisp image of a little white pig in a sea of orange filigree. I can't wait to tote this giant, cumbersome camera around and create a time warp of modern images. I am once again inspired to take up my cameras.
Happy Crafting!
Cerise : )

*P.S. I think this process might work with modern printers. I found the image on a penguin tag fully peeled off from its photo paper one day. I'll have to try that out as the pack film is not cheap!*

See how to do it!
Polaroid Emulsion Transfer

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Knit Mania

Oh my goodness! I thought I was getting better about posting but I guess not. I have been overly busy with work and attempting to stay busy with the very little school I have going on this semester. But here it finally is!

I have been in a knitting craze lately, only throwing in a little sewing here and there. Knitting has become a outlet for me. Making all the tedious stitches relieves my stress from a long, high-energy day and soothes my nerves when I'm upset about all the clothes or dishes strewn about my tiny, boxy apartment. I can take it anywhere, like the baseball game on on a car trip, or enjoy an online radio show, a book "on tape," or my favorite cartoons on the boob tube and still knit away.
Not only does knitting relax me, I get a completed, wearable end product. Basic socks are now a breeze for me and I almost don't even have to look at the pattern. I feel overly comfortable knitting sweaters and am even comfortable with adjusting patterns to suit my tastes. I am amazed how how far I have come from my metal shish kabob sticks, the closest thing to knitting needles I could find in my house, and a scarf that was knitted on either side (as knitters know, this doesn't give you a smooth interlocked V side and an opposing bumpy side but rather a series of ridges known as the garter stitch) and no knowledge of purling. I have even taught three of my girlfriends to knit and started a little knitting group. I am up on Ravelry and listed all my projects and yarn. I now have an understanding of gauge, yarn thickness, ply, fiber content, needles of all sorts (single-pointed, double-pointed, circular), how to read the weird shorthand patterns, how to adjust patterns, bought a subscription to a knitting magazine to replace the no longer printed CRAFT magazine, and even have an understanding on how to spin yarn. Nothing in the knitting world is now scary to me. I am intimidated by sewing because I don't know how to size things, intimidated by cooking because I burn and miss measure things, and intimidated by photography because I don't focus well or take two rolls worth of pictures without any film in the camera. But with knitting, I dive right in without thinking about it and am able to come out successful and proud of my work.

I recently went through all my yarn and stashed it on Ravelry, setting aside unwanted skeins and weird projects from who knows when. I took a little box full of my unwanted over to my last knitting party and offered it up to the girls. I found the first knitting project I ever made, on those old metal shish kabob sticks. Two kids I babysat taught me how to knit one summer when I was in high school. They made it look easy while I struggled. But they did have real knitting needles. My friend thought it was cool and liked the yarn. I wonder if she'll frog it or add on to it. It reminded me how difficult and ugly the beginnings of my knitting were. Like many people, I started as a beginner, scared of gauge swatches, unable to understand the knitting shorthand, and not sure how to choose yarn. Now, I don't even care if I have a few funny stitches. Who will notice? What family member will care and give me a white ribbon instead of blue? (Of course, for the county fair next year it will matter.)

Even after I purchased my first knitting book with a Border's gift card I got for Christmas, I only did little samplers of different stitches and only got a few rows into my first sock attempt before tossing it aside (yes, that too was in my give-away box). The day I decided to knit a sock, to just go for it and not look back, was the day my knitting knack was freed. I'm now four and a half pairs of socks, one and a half and an arm into sweaters, and many scarves into a few years of knitting. It may not sound like much, but for someone who is easily scared away by imperfection of the outcome of her projects, this knitter is so far self satisfied and always impressed by the outcome.
Happy Crafting,
Cerise : )

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dog Pile

Here is Sweet Pea and Bluto, with Mike (my husband, Cerise's Dad) at the bottom of the dog pile. They are very spoiled (even Mike!) Sweet Pea is obsessed with squeakers and since I put one inside each little dog sweater she has managed to chew through one and pull the squeaker out. She hasn't been able to get the other out yet. I suspect that little sweaters with catnip would make a great cat toy. I will test one with Cerise's kitty, Katina, the famous Krafty one. What do you think, Miss Krafty?
Theresa, OmMama

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Funny little sweaters

The sun was out intermittently and as the day is nearing its end I realize that both my husband and I have been working all day for our little Chihuahuas, Sweet Pea and Bluto. My husband is making a giant "playpen" to move around the back yard and I made dog toys. Sure, we should be enjoying the extra hour of daylight, like the dogs lying on our bed lounging in the last rays. Tomorrow we will go to work for them to earn money so that they have organic chicken and brown rice.
We are so ridiculous, as are these little sweater dog toys. They are made from an old wool sweater that I washed and dried to try to shrink it more than it already was. I put in a squeaker and triple-stitched it. I don't know why I cut the arms so skinny. I will try them out tonight and if they pass the chew test I will perfect the design.
Theresa, OmMama

Monday, March 2, 2009

I (Heart) Sewing

Another project just for me! I got this fun waffle weave fabric on sale. I wanted to see how quickly I could throw together a top. It doesn't fit perfect, but I decide it is for sleeping in. Won't I look cute when I'm sleeping?!
OmMama, Theresa