Monday, January 30, 2012

Junk and more Junk

I played with junk this weekend.  While I wish I had been on a boat in the West Indies, it was the other definition that I was surrounded with. 

First, I went through my stash, looking for material to make up some basic garb for my sister.  Then, I want to a junk journal workshop hosted by my local arts group, Ames, and a friend of mine, Kaotic Krafter.

It’s workshops like that one that remind me of why I keep some of the random stuff around.  It’s amazing what a little glue and creativity can do to magazine pages, leftover pieces of wallpaper, and old lined paper.  From out of a box of thing that most people would have picked up and trashed as junk, I created an inspiration journal for writing. 

It was a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What I think of as junk is the height of beauty or use to someone else.  Everyone has different priorities and  ways of looking at things.  I cannot dismiss something for someone else the way I would for myself.

I hope I remember that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A New Needle BookI

My house has been invaded by needles.  What started out as a meager collection of simple needles appropriate to a new sewer grew when I was given a needle book several years ago.  That needle book had large eyes, blunt tips, and curved needles, all of which quickly became my favorite.  Recently, I think I have quadrupled the amount of needles in my house with the collection from my grandfather’s late girlfriend.  Then, I went and bought longer needles for weaving.

Where do I put all these needles?  How do I remember where I put them?

I take a great idea and make it better.

Remember that needle book I mentioned?  It was a small thing made of plastic canvas with a thinner strap to hold it closed.  The large needles it came with barely fit in it, and the strap long ago fell off.  So I made a new, larger version.
My new purple, white, and black needle book.  Yes, it looks blue, but I swear it's purple.

Plastic Canvas Needle Book
Plastic canvas
Yarn needle
Sewing thread

1 – Decide on the size you want your needle book.  I took my largest needle and laid it sideways on my cutting mat to get a feel for how big I needed it.  Once you have a basic idea, consult your plastic canvas and design idea.  Count out the squares and see if your design idea will work.  You may need to add more or less.  My needle book was twenty five squares high by twenty squares wide.

2 – Cut your plastic canvas into five pieces using your measurements. 

You will need:
2 main pieces for covers (twenty five squares by twenty squares)
1 piece for the spine – Make this piece as tall as your cover but only a few squares wide.   (Twenty five squares by two squares)
1 piece for strap – This piece should be as wide as your cover plus spine but only a few squares tall.  (Twenty two by three)
1 piece for the buckle (what holds the strap in place) – this should be about double the height of your strap.  (Seven by five)

3 – Decorate your canvas with yarn.  I chose to do a checked pattern with an outline (see below for instruction type things).  You could make it all one color, use stripes, whatever you wish your needle book to look like.  Use one continuous piece of yarn if possible.  If you do, you have less ends to worry about.  The inner side will be covered when done.

4 – Edge your canvas.  Pull your yarn up through one square and go over the edge of the canvas to come up through the next square.  Repeat this around the entire canvas to cover the edges.  When you are finished, weave in your end.

5 – Adding the strap.  On your back piece, center the end of your strap and hold in place.  Use your needle and thread to sew through the canvas to anchor your strap.  You could use yarn, but I like to use thread to make sure it is secure. 

6 – Add your buckle.  Lay out your front and back piece with a gap the size of your spine between them.  Center your buckle and move it slightly forward on your front piece over the strap.  Make sure you put the strap beneath the buckle.  The strap will cause the buckle to, well, buckle a bit.  You will want to keep that arch as you sew.  Sew down the top and bottom ends of the buckle with thread.  Go over the ends several times to secure.

7 – Add the spine.  Lay out your front and back piece on either side of your spine.  This time, use your edging yarn to whipstitch the spine to one of the covers.  Run your thread to the other side and whipstitch the other cover to the spine.  Tie off your yarn and weave in the end.

8 – Cut one to three pieces of felt just slightly smaller than the laid out book.  One piece will be sewn to the covers.  Any additional pieces of felt will become the pages of your book.  My original needle book did not have additional pages.  I added two extra pieces of felt to this new book. 

9 – If you have additional pages, stack all your felt pieces together and line them up.  Find the center of the stack and sew down the length of it, creating a ‘book’ of felt. 

10 – Putting it all together.  Center your pages in the middle of your spine.  Use thread to sew the bottom piece of felt to the cover.  Follow the edge and stretch your felt slightly if needed.  I went in and out along the first row of the plastic canvas.  When finished, knot and bury your thread.

11 – Put your needles in their new home!

 Now my large needles don't have to live in a plastic exile from all the others!

For the Checked pattern:

Columns are vertical.
Rows are horizontal.

With Yarn One, start at the second square down (first column, second row) and pull the yarn up and then down through the second square across (second column, first row).  Move to the third square down and repeat until you have yarn through the fifth squares (first column, fifth square and fifth column, first square).  Now, instead of moving down, you will move over.  Pull the yarn up through the second square in the fifth row (second column, fifth row) and down through the second square of the fifth column (fifth column, second row).  Continue through the third and fourth squares (fourth column, fourth square and fifth column, fourth square).  You have completed one square!  Move over five columns and continue.

With Yarn Two, repeat the same pattern above except begin at the opposite corner and move backward.  This varies the angle of the yarn.

With Yarn Three, begin at the space between the colors (column five, first square).  Pull your yarn up through column five, first square and down through column six, first square.  Pull the yarn back up through column five, first square and down through column six, second square.  Pull yarn up through column five, second square and down column six, third square.  Continue until you reach the end of the canvas.  Pull the yarn up through the last empty square and down through the square across from it, repeating what you started with.  Repeat this between all your squares.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading to Write

There are loads of books about writing out on the market today.  Go check out the reference section in your book store or search through your library.  There is a book for almost every topic you need help with. Sorting through them may take some time, but I’ve found a few gems tucked in the shelves.

One of my favorite books is The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser.  Reading this book totally changed the way I write poetry.  It was like I found the missing piece of my writing in these pages.  I’m not saying this just because he is from my home state, although it might have factored into the reason I picked up his book in the first place.

One of the first books I ever read about poetry, outside of school, was The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.  I recently received my own copy of this book through Paperback Swap.  It’s been ages since I’ve read it, but I can’t wait to tuck back into the pages.  There are exercises and writing prompts spread throughout the book.

What are some of your favorite books on writing? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stash Diving

I have a huge stash of random crafty bits in my house.  I have some organized in my hallway closet, and I have some taking up half the room in my storage area.  As I am trying to minimize the stuff in my house, my stash has been driving me crazy.  It’s somewhat unorganized and full of random bits I’m not sure I will ever use.

I thought I should throw away those old brown envelopes; I’m not going to do anything with them.  I’ve used several in the last week to create templates for sewing projects.

I thought, I’m never going to do anything with plastic canvas, why am I keeping this?  I just made a new needle case and plan to make at least one more for the ArtVend.

Of course, I also suffer from ‘Man, why did I throw that away?’ disease.  Whenever I finally get rid of an item, I find myself in a position where I really need that item.

Am I a hoarder?  Yes and no.  I do have a stash, but I have a healthy relationship with my trash can.  Not everything goes in my stash, regardless of what it looks like.  I have a stash of envelopes leftover from when I was going to turn them all into scrap paper notebooks.  I think a good chunk of that stash will go with me to a junk journal workshop.  I have plastic canvas that came from my great grandmothers stash and in a set of stuff from Freecycle.  I do use my stash and it’s slowly getting smaller or staying the same size.  My crafting tastes are just so widely spread, it’s hard not to have a large stash.

What do you do to keep your stash under control? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Handsewing a removable pocket

Taking pictures is not my strong suit, as I’m sure any follower of mine knows. :)  Lately, I’ve been pretty bad about taking in progress and final pictures of my projects.  Today is no exception.

Recently, I’ve joined the SCA – Society for Creative Anachronism.  Part of the Society is dressing up in something that would have been worn before 1600.  My current chosen period and place is Venice, Italy, around 1500AD.  Venetian dresses have a high waistline, like an empire waist, that I love.  The bad thing about them, though, is that it’s hard to put a pouch on your belt when it’s not on your hips. 

I’m sure it can be done, and if I ever get a leather belt instead of my cloth one, it might hold up.  So after having a pouch on my wrist get in my way the whole time I was at an event, I did some more research and finally got around to making a Saccoccia, or a pocket.

These pockets were often times hidden beneath the outer gown rather and reached through the slits on the skirts. 

My plan is to tie this to the bottom of my bodice lacings so it is supported without having a belt around my waist.  My outer gown doesn’t have a side slit, but it is slit in the front.  I will just have to pull the fabric back to reach my pocket.  I will plan for pocket slits in my next set of garb.  I had already planned on making an outer gown open on the sides anyway. 

My sewing machine is broken again, so everything was handstitched.

To make the pocket:
1 - Trace the bottom of a salad plate and use a ruler to extend straight lines up how far up you want the pocket to go.
2 - Cut out your pattern and cut two outer pieces and two lining pieces.  Mine were both from my stash.
3 – Cut a line in the template from the center down to about the middle of the pocket.  You want to be able to get your hand in the slit.  Use the template to mark a line down one of your lining pieces, on the wrong side, to show where the slit goes.
4 – Pin the lining with the marked line and one outer fabric right sides together and stitch around the marked line.  I left a little bit of room around the line for cutting and turning, but not much.

5 – Once done sewing, cut down the marked line with scissors, making a Y shape at the bottom.
6 – Turn the piece so the right sides are out and iron the piece.

7 – I button-hole stitched around the opening to hold it together.  You could couch a piece of cord instead of button-holing it. 
8 – Pin the lining fabrics, right sides together, and stitch around the whole lining.  You should leave a spot at the bottom open for turning the pocket when you are done.  I didn’t and forgot to leave one anywhere else, so I had to tear out part of my stitching.
9 – Fold the lining up and out of the way and pin the outer pieces together, right sides together.  Stitch around the entire edge.
10 – Clip the corners of your pocket and the round edge like normal before turning it right sides out. 
11 – Sew up your turning hole
12 – Sew a belt or ties onto the top edge of the pocket. 
13 – Carry around your stuff in style!
Here is the outside fabric before I added the button-holing around the slit.  And the last picture I thought to take.
Here are a couple great resources for the Saccoccia:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA / PIPA Blackout

I'm not techie enough to black out my website, nor do I have enough time.  But I stand in support of those who are blacking out their sites in order to protest the SOPA / PIPA laws making their way through Congress.  From what I gather, these bills will shut down sites large and small at the faintest whiff of copyright infringement, putting the blame on the site, not the poster. 

Why is that a problem?

Say someone comes here to my blog and posts a link to a pirate site.  By that link existing on my page, my site can be shut down and I am held responsible for promoting copyright infringement.

Youtube, Google, Craigslist, Reddit, any site where there is user submitted content is in danger if these laws get passed.  Hell, any site where comments are allowed are in danger.

Check out these sites for more information.
SOPA Blackout
Wiki explains the Blackout

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My nose is running away with me

Douglas Adams once wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
In the beginning, the universe was created.
This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Many races believe it was created by some sort of god, but the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI firmly believed that the entire universe was, in fact, sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure.
The Jatravartids, who lived in perpetual fear of the time they called "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief" were small, blue creatures with more than fifty arms each. They were therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.
The Jatravartids would not like to hang around me.  I have two white handkerchiefs in my coat pocket, another in my pants pocket, and a stack of them freshly laundered and ready to be used. 

I’m thinking I need to embroider ‘Don’t Panic’ on one of them.  Or little blue creatures in the corners.