A Weekender for Every Day of the Week

I’ll admit it – I’m a bandwagon girl. Or, more accurately, if there’s a sweater parade going by, I’m definitely in the crowd watching, and, it doesn’t take much for me to hop on the float, and cast on the sweater du jour. When everyone started knitting this sweater, the Weekender by Andrea Mowry, I certainly put it in my Ravelry queue, and I kept my eye on photos of completed projects. I didn’t cast on immediately though, because I was concerned about the drop shoulder. A drop shoulder on an oversized sweater with no shaping definitely runs the risk of looking like a trash bag with a hole for your head.

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A Star is Born – Again

I saw a Star is Born on Sunday but I waited a few days to write about it.  If I had written the review right after the movie, it would have been ungenerous and unkind.  In the theater where I saw the movie, there were people sobbing in their seats, audibly, and I was struck more by their emotion than by the movie.  With that kind of tangible evidence, I certainly can’t argue with the gut punch effect of the movie.  And, I can’t say anyone was manipulated into crocodile tears, because it certainly wasn’t a secret that this was going to be tragic love story told with all of the trappings of traditional melodrama.  People weren’t manipulated into emotional reactions – they went there for that sole purpose.  There’s a scene right in the beginning of the movie, where Lady Gaga’s character, Ally, dumps her boyfriend while she’s on a break from work.  She’s hiding in a bathroom stall having this difficult conversation with the guy, and after she abruptly hangs up on him, she walks out of the stall, stares into the mirror, drops her head, stomps her feet, and let’s out a primal scream, followed by “fucking men!”  Go ahead and scream, and cry and let it all out, friends, Lady Gaga has not only given you permission, she has shown you the way.

So, why didn’t I take her hand, just go with it, into the cathartic tears and the emotional release that the movie guaranteed?  I certainly did in the second remake of  A Star is Born, with Judy Garland and James Mason.  When James Mason walks into the ocean, and the music swells, and later Judy is sobbing over her lipstick on the wall at Gruman’s Chinese Theater, I sat in my bed crumpling tissue after tissue.  It’s the same story, after all, it should have gotten me.  And, it wasn’t the fact that I knew how it was going to end – I’ve seen the Judy Star is Born at least five times, and I react the same way every time.  It’s certainly not a talent thing – Lady Gaga has the pipes, and she’s a talented song writer.    And this A Star is Born has been updated, as it’s certainly a more accurate portrayal of addiction.  It should have spoken to me, right?

And, I think that it’s for those very reasons, that it doesn’t work for me.  First, Ally is a more modern woman than the previous stars’ incarnations, but at the end of the movie, I still don’t know if she sold out by becoming a pop star, having been manipulated by her slimey manager, or if she is exercising her own agency, this pop star is the star she wants to be.  I just don’t know. And, based on the set up of Ally’s character, the foot stomping in the bathroom, the punching of an off duty cop to protect Bradley Cooper’s famous rock star character, Jackson Maine, from an intrusion into his private time, the impulsive quitting of her job to not just run after a rock star, but run after something better for herself, I could only believe that a girl who’s going to belt a cop is not a girl who is going to be like, yeah, ok, you drink, I’m not going to try to change you, except to say once in awhile “that’s not ok,” and “this is the last time.”  It’s more than hinted that her character has dealt with alcoholism before with her father, and therefore, she, unlike Judy Garland’s Esther Blodgett, absolutely knows that her love alone is not going to make him better. When she visits him in rehab towards the end of the film, and she tells him that his actions aren’t embarrassing, that he has a disease, she has known that this is a disease all along, yet, all we see her do to confront this illness is tell him, I won’t get on a bike with you when you’ve been drinking, I won’t come get you from the side of the road again.  And, after she makes that little speech, she marries him – not even an hour later.  He’s had a good talking to by Dave Chappelle so he’s cured?  I don’t believe her character is that naïve.

And, I don’t think she’s that much in love either.  Jackson Maine is an asshole.  He’s disgusting.  The first time she goes back to his hotel room, they’re making out, and he’s wasted, sweaty and  the thought of the smell of him was enough to ruin my popcorn.  He passes out, and his brother emerges out of nowhere to put him to bed.  And then, after the brother leaves, Ally gets into bed with him – and waits for him to wake up so they can consummate this whatever it is.  This is not romance, or love.  This is just fear – she’s afraid of what will happen if she leaves.  She just ditched her job, everything, to be with this guy, and now what?  And that fear dictates her behavior the rest of the movie.  She doesn’t trust her voice, she doesn’t trust her beauty, and she doesn’t trust she can make it without her creepy manager, and her verbally abusive, downright mean husband.  And, she certainly doesn’t love him enough to try to help him.  There’s never a moment in this movie when she acknowledges just how sick he is, or that he needs serious mental health treatment, and a lifetime of therapy.  And the last thing she does do is lie to him, and she doesn’t even recognize what the lie is – the truth is, her creepy manager was never going to let her cancel that tour, and she didn’t really know what their future was going to be.

And in giving Jackson Maine a back story to his addiction, and making his drinking more about self-medication than over indulging in the rock and roll life style and the trappings of stardom, the movie introduces a mental health component to his addiction beyond alcoholism as a DSM V disease.   This guy is not just suffering from alcoholism; he is clinically depressed, perhaps bi-polar, and he definitely has PTSD.  His first suicide attempt was at 13.  Suicidal ideation doesn’t just go away.  He suffers from tinnitus – he’s not just trying to escape the noise of the crowd – he lives with a deafening noise in his head all the time.  Everyone in the film kind of shrugs and says, he drinks too much.  But, that’s not really what’s at the heart of this guy – it’s the agony he’s suffered since he was child – a child who tried to string himself up just to get the attention of an abusive father.  So, when his brother, at the end of the movie, tells Ally that it was no one’s fault but Jackson’s, I think, well, yeah, but . . . instead of telling him “you drink too much,” you could have said, “I think medication and therapy might go a long way here.” Look, I don’t think anyone owed this Jackson Maine anything, but maybe I would have felt more if she had tried to help him before he ruined her Grammy night.

So, they cling to each other, she rises, he falls.   She calls his cellphone a lot. And in between?  There’s just no joy in this relationship, ever. I never for a second in this movie ever felt any happiness between the two of them.  Nor did I ever enjoy being with them.  Sure, there’s magic onstage, but that’s performance, not intimacy.  When James Mason walks into the ocean, I felt like he was taking Judy with him.  When Jackson commits suicide, I felt bad for the dog.

I started off by saying, that if I had written this right after I had seen the movie, I would have been ungenerous and unkind, and now that I’ve read this over, maybe I have been anyway, but I only meant my criticisms towards the movie itself.  I certainly don’t want to be ungenerous and unkind to the people who were moved when they saw this movie.  Just because I had problems with this movie, I can understand why someone else wouldn’t.  A tragedy is a tragedy, who cares if it’s tragedy a or tragedy b.  It was better than the Barbra Streisand version, so there is that. There are a lot of good things about this movie – I believed Bradley Cooper as a rock star, I liked Lady Gaga, the music is great, as are the concert scenes.  I just wish they had just gone on tour together, instead of remaking one of my favorite movies of all time.

So, if you too go to a Star is Born looking for that promised emotional release, and instead you get disappointing popcorn because you can’t stop thinking about stinky Bradley Cooper, I’ll give you an alternative- Tracy Dogs Adoption Day.  Tracy Dogs is an dog rescue in Texas, that saves dogs from high kill border shelters.  After an online adoption process, the dogs board a bus, and go off to their new forever homes, that begin in a PetSmart parking lot.  The bus parks, the new dog parents anxiously wait, and one by one, they bring the dogs off the bus, and into the arms of their new doggie parents.  Every month there’s a live video.  Sometimes like on Saturday, I caught it live, sometimes I watch the replay.  And boy, do I cry those big crocodile tears of joy for these sweet puts.  Time well spent, definitely!

When You Know Nothing, How to Build a Website

One of the reasons the blog got a makeover truly was the yadda yadda of yesterday – writing, word recovery, all that cerebral stuff.  But, there’s another reason.  I’m a nerd, I like techy things, and I actually like fiddling around with web design.  So, when my brother posted on Facebook that he was looking for an easy, cheap website solution for his wedding/event band, I raised my hand, and he “hired” me – i.e., I owed him money (not much, just my half of mom’s bday present), and it was a good way to wipe the slate clean.  He was skeptical, and doubted my English major/lawyering  skills would translate into web design, but little did he know . . . I am addicted to DIY tutorials.  And, if you can DIY the curtains in your bathroom, you can DIY a website.

Are you the Jon Snow of website creation and design?  You know nothing?  Well, after a few hours on youtube, you will know enough to get yourself started.

First, you need to find a web hosting service, which should provide you with a domain name registration, domain hosting, and WordPress installation.  I use Dreamhost, my brother uses StartLogic.  Does it matter?  Sure, it does – if you’re a professional working for a client, stuff like memory, and databases and ftp and all of that stuff come into play, and you need to know what makes your website run, not just your WordPress install.  But, if you’re just building a personal website with WordPress, the most important thing is customer service.  Because you must accept from the outset that things are going to go wrong, either with your WordPress install, or with memory limits when you first start using your site, or any number of things.  I’ve only had to call Dreamhost once about my website.  Startlogic, well, I was on the phone with them for hours for three days getting the WordPress install to function.  I can’t really tell you whose fault that was – my brother, in his attempt to manage his own domains, had so much guck in there (I could explain what all that guck was, but it’s no worries for you really) that I can’t fault Startlogic, and the technicians I spoke to were very helpful, and understood the importance of a small business being online, now.  The takeaway from the guck is that starting fresh is the easiest way to go, and once you start overwriting something existing, life gets more difficult, and that customer service is important.

So, step 1.  Get web hosting, 2. register your domain name, 3.  install WordPress.  Do you have to use WordPress – of course not.  There’s Wix out there, and Squarespace.  There’s building your own code.  But, we were on a budget, and there really isn’t a cheaper way to go than WordPress.  With Startlogic, for instance, web hosting is $2.50 a month (I think), the domain name and registration are free, WordPress is free.  Everything else on top of that is decoration – so you have to decide if you want a Home Depot Christmas tree for your website, or a Martha Stewart decorated forest.  For instance, StartLogic partners with Mojomarketplace, and for additional fees ($99 and up) you can purchase a custom theme, professional installation and customization.  If I had failed, that probably would have been the way my brother would have gone.  But, since I figured it out, we stayed in budget – which was the Home Depot Hanukkah bush.

So, this is what WordPress looks like –

 

WordPress is the house for your site.  It’s a container.  Your theme is your framework, and works like your basement and the shell of your house, it powers your house, and gives your site it’s organizational structure.  It is the backend, what your guests never see.  All you will have to do on the backend is set up the organization of your website – things like menu structure.  The living area, the thing that makes your home pretty and livable, is the front end – what people see when they hit your site, and customization is based on visualization.  I don’t know anything about backend creation – I trust the theme, and follow the instructions.  The front end, on the other hand, is easy peasy now that there are drop and drag page editors out there.  That’s what I mean by visualization – you want a photo – you drop it on the page.  You want some space between a text block and an image, you drag a spacer on the page.  You want to change your font, you click on the font, and you can change it.  There are many drop and drag page builders out there, but I went with Elementor – it’s free, and it’s easy, and there are so many youtube tutorials for you to watch that can take you through your website creation, step by step.  If you want to spend some money, you may want to think about Divi, which is a combination Theme/Page Builder, which requires a subscription fee to Elegant Themes, which if you’re looking to build more than one website, might be the way to go for you.

So, Elementor is your front end editor – the visual design.  But, we can’t forget about that basement – and Elementor is not fully compatible with every theme.  Based on the tutorials I watched, and the ones I’m going to recommend in a second, I used this theme – OceanWp.  From that theme, I made this website – Main Line Affair.  Think of OceanWP as your sketch, and Elementor (a plugin, i.e., a tool for your website) as your paint.  OceanWP gives you your structure, Elementor gives you your design.

So this is the theme customizer (this is this website’s theme – Essence – not OceanWp – I didn’t feel like heading over to my brother’s site to take a screenshot.  It looks very much the same, but more options, which is why OceanWP works so well with Elementor – many many customization choices) – lots of settings for the way your site works, not how it looks (other than to tell wordpress where to put stuff, like your menus,headers, and footers) – it’s your framework.

And, Elementor – on the front end –

See the box that says drag widget here?  The two columns on the left are widgets – you drag the widget box onto your page, and voila!  That’s it.  Or see that little folder?  You click on that, and it will bring up a template library – more on that below.

Are you scratching your head, what’s a widget?  So, if WordPress is your house, and your theme is your framework, plugins are your lightswitches, and widgets are your furniture.  Plugins are tools you install to give your website more functionality.  Widgets are areas of information that provide visual content for your blog.  Widgets are often, but not always, powered by Plugins.  So, the plugin is the lightswitch, the widget is the lamp.  So, if you look at the side bar if this blog, you’ll see three fields – About Me, Recent Posts, and Instagram – all three of these content areas (widgets) are configured and powered by plugins.  Anyway, you can google all of this terminology and you’ll probably get better definitions than my Good Housekeeping version of website design.  This house analogy works for me, and maybe it’ll help you conceptualize how all of these things work together.  If not, forget I said, and use whatever methodology works for you.

So, I’m not going to go through the steps to customize OceanWP with Elementor – I’m just going to link to the videos I watched.

First, I watched Tyler Moore‘s How to Make a WordPress Website in 24 Steps.  In this video, he talks about all of the things I glossed over – web hosting, WordPress installation, theme installation, and theme customization.  I pretty much followed this step by step when I made my brother’s site.  I watched a part of the video, paused it, did a step, moved to the next.  I was amazed at how easy it is to have a functional website up and running in a matter of hours.  One of the best little nuggets from this tutorial is templates – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel anymore.  You can just drop an entire Elementor template onto your WordPress page – and voila! A working website.  Of course, you don’t want a cookie cutter website, but it’s a good outline – use what you like, delete what you don’t.  Mix up your templates.  Make it your own.  Not only are there templates included with the free Elementor plugin (you can go Pro, pay and get more, as well as more drop and drag features), but there are other template resources out there.  Free?  Go to Tyler’s website, and he has a bunch of nice free ones.  Want more options, and are willing to pay – try the subscription service Crocoblock, which Darrell Wilson talks about in his similar tutorial, How to Make a WordPress Website – 2018 – Easy and Fast!  This video is a lot of the same steps/information from the first video, but it’s the repetition that makes the information sink in, and gets you more comfortable with what you’re doing.  Darrell Wilson also has a Skillshare class that has a three hour version of this tutorial.  I didn’t watch that.  I felt like I had the hang of it.

So, here it is in a nutshell –

  1. Find a webhost
  2. Register your domain name
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Install OceanWP from the WordPress dashboard
  5. Install Elementor from the WordPress dashboard
  6. Customize your site, from an organizational stand point with OceanWP’s customize menu, and from a visual design perspective, with Elementor’s drop and drag functionality.

Now, you can add your bells and whistles.  Darrell Wilson recommended Logomakr.com to make a logo.  I used this free service for this blog (although it was something I easily could have done on my own in Photoshop, but since I wasn’t at home I used it.  It’s easy, slick and there are lots of design options – all for free!).  The only money I plunked down to finish the site off was $25 for Slider Revolution, which creates animated sliders.  I watched this tutorial from NYC Tech Club, How to Use the Revolution Slider Plugin.  This is a really long tutorial, but in it, he walks you through the creation of four or five sliders, and in doing so, you get a good overall lesson on how to use the Interface, and the plugin’s capabilities.  And, again, the key take away was templates.  You don’t need to recreate the wheel, you can just import a slide from a template, switch out the template content for your own, and voila!  Your website now has movement.

More decoration?  Not a photographer and need photos – in the more info section of Darrell’s video he provides links to a bunch of photo sources.  I’ve used Pixabay for digital art journaling, and it’s easy to use.  The only danger in using stock photography is that inevitably, someone else has used it on their website as well.  With my brother’s website I thought about using wedding photos from Pixabay, since it is a wedding/event band, but since the band is an east coast entity, I went with a Philadelphia theme instead, and used my own photos.

If you don’t want a full blown website, and you just want to blog – just install WordPress on your domain, pick a theme, and write!  That’s it.  If you want more control about how your blog looks, every theme has some kind of customization available – and you can use it, or not.  As I mentioned in my last post, I installed a new theme, and I totally cheated. I splurged with $20ish, and bought this theme, Essence, from Lucid Themes on Etsy.  Why did I do this instead of going the OceanWp and Elementor route?  Pretty much because to get the blog layout I wanted, I would have had to upgrade to Elementor pro (different drop and drag blog layouts are only available in the pro version), and it was cheaper just to buy a template that did it for me.

So, that’s the bare bones version of creating your website.  Once it’s functioning, there are other things to explore – newsletter services, SEO customization, pop ups, testimonials – so many things.  And, in this day and age, there’s a youtube tutorial for every single one.  And the good thing about these youtube tutorials is they are directed at the know nothings, like me.  Professionals don’t need these videos, they’ve got certifications, and real world experiences, etc.  These tutorials are designed to for the beginner who needs help, and are designed so that you land on the creators web page, and seek out his/her services in some way.  Youtube is just more marketing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an educational opportunity as well.  Just know that when you watch these videos, you are watching a commercial.  And, you can take it that way, go down the link rabbit hole, and buy products, or just use them to learn how to DIY, just like your curtains, or your bookcases, or you sweaters, or whatever.

And there you have it.

Go forth and create my friend.  And if it doesn’t work out, no worries!  There are a gazillion resources out there for you.

 

Rebranding


Whenever I’m in a real craft rut, I clean my craft room.  Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get the creative mojo going – a nice, neat tidy space.  Other times, a clean workplace is just an empty space, and I sit and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for inspiration to fill that space.  So, I’ve spruced up the blog – I installed a new theme, I customized my home page and my blog posts, and I’ve organized my categories.  And, I’m typing . . . that’s something.  I don’t know if the inspiration is here, and I am driven to write, but I know I need to write.  I’ve lost words, you see.  I reach for a word, and it’s just beyond my grasp.  I find myself describing movies as “good,” and the weather as “bad.”  Once I spoke in paragraphs, now it’s “sweet, nice, great!”  I don’t know if it’s acclimating to the brevity of social media that’s caused this, or just laziness, but I know I don’t like it.  And, there’s something deeper going on.  I find social media, the news cycle, and the general unrest we’re experiencing as a nation unsettling.  I fear paralysis.  Every day I disengage a little more, and writing about my little crafts seems frivolous, and small.  But, it’s not really – this is a small place after all, this blog of mine, and I should write whatever I like, frivolous, important, somewhere in between.  The important thing is to write, to recover my words that seem to have scattered in the wind, gather them up and put them back in my word basket.  So, to that end, I’m not longer going to write about just crafts – I’m going to write about whatever I feel like.  Maybe a movie or book review, maybe my thoughts on a podcast, maybe my current knitting project.

Lemon & Olive will always be a craftastic place, but it has to be more to me, by being less.  What I mean by that is, the purpose of Lemon & Olive was to engage with the craft community.  Now, I need it to be more personal.  Of course there were never any rules – I never had to write about just crafts, obviously, but when a blog has a tagline of “a craftastic place to be” I think there’s an expectation that the blog will be about crafts, and now, I find that too restrictive.  I want to be transparent; if you hit this page, you may stumble on politics, or opinions you may not agree with, along with my knitting, quilting or arting.   And, if you don’t come back, that’s ok.  if you want to engage with me in the comments about a differing opinion, that’s ok too.  Is it now a lifestyle blog?  I don’t think so – I don’t think of myself as generating click bait titles, or writing posts with 10 things, or anything like that.  For now, we’ll just call it my online journal, personal enough to mean something to me, but not so personal that it’s too intimate to share.  Maybe it’s a magazine.  We’ll see.  See that – I lost some words in there – going from “maybe’ to “we’ll see.”  Hopefully, I’ll lose lazy shorthand like that, make the connections, and in turn, connect with you.

 

More Vintage Photo Fabric Creations

After posting about my last failed attempt at altering a fabric vintage photo, of course, I stewed about how to fix it, how to start again, what to do differently – that’s what I do sometimes when I’m staring at my computer at work.  Some people day dream about exotic vacations, or what they’re reading, or what to make for dinner, or what to wear tomorrow, I fixate on how to fix my projects, or starting a new project, or what kind of a mess am I going to make this weekend.  I may have resting bitch face, but underneath, I’m all about paints, and stitches, and pretty things.

So, here’s how I tried to pretty my failure up:

Again, here’s the big fail:

Time to start over!

Back to the original.  What first attracted me to this photo is the window, and the cuffs on her clothes.  I envisioned hanging flower baskets and french knots on the cuffs.  Why I strayed from my original idea I don’t know, but above is what you get when you don’t trust your instincts.

So, the french knots on the cuffs:

And, kind of weird sort of turkey work on the belt –

And, finally, the daydreamed about plants in the window:

And here she is, in a broken Ikea frame (have to do something about that!) –

 

I’m so much happier with how she turned out.  If I were to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t curve the stitching on the bottom of her dress – I was going for a look that suggested movement, but instead she just looks bloated, and strangely shaped.  Instead of using a bright paint in the windows, I used a subtle, chalk pastel.  The pink chalk pastel on her dress completely rubbed off, but that’s ok.  I thought out doing some bullion stitches on the back of the chair, to add some texture, but I decided that would be too much.  So, I’m basically good with it.  I love how the plants turned out, and I was right about the french knots.  Inspired, I whipped up another one:

Some embroidered silk roses, and a few fabric embellishments, and voila!

On Instagram, someone asked me why the hat?  And I think the better question is really why the wings?  Whenever you download collage sheets, or look at others’ vintage photo alterations, typical embellishments are wings, hats, stripes on socks, lollipops, balloons, etc.  I added the wings, because well, everyone adds wings.  Not such a good reason.  I added the hat, however, because after I embroidered the silk flowers, she really looked like she was wearing one of those oldtime plastic flowered bathing caps.  It wasn’t a good look for her.  The hat changed that look, and also, kind of goes with the rebel theme – that the rebel would wear a crooked hat.  Anyway, in the future, I’m going to try to tell my own story with my altered photos, instead of copying trends, like wings and such.  Of course the hat is from a collage sheet download, and a staple of vintage photo alts, but to me, it works with this photo more than the wings, which really don’t say much at all to me, other than to give it some whimsy.  So, that’s my thought process.

And the polka dots, by the way – to cover up some sloppy slops on the white border – oopsy!

A Summer of Unity Stamp Co. Stamps

As promised, and in a timely fashion I might add!, here’s a rundown of Unity Stamp’s Summer Kits of the Month.

First up, June – ah, so long ago it seems.

Love June’s kit..  If I had any quibble, the only thing it would be is that I don’t feel like that particular bird is a spring bird.  That crow says Halloween or fall or something like that to me, as do the wildflowers, but what do I know?  I do know that I love the ice cream sundaes, the fruit and the girl.  And, I’m happy to have a birthday sentiment to add to my tool box.

Here are the cards I made:

Here, I did some paper piecing, and some coloring with my Spectrum Noir alcohol markers.  Here’s the thing about markers – I am not paying $6/marker.  I don’t care how fantastic Copic markers are, I’m not a professional crafter, artist, whatever, and that’s so not going to happen.  I wouldn’t even buy a gold plated marker at $6 a pop, because who needs a gold plated marker.  Now, I guess, professional or non professional aside, if coloring were something I really really cared about, I guess I would pay that much – but I don’t.  Spectrum Noir markers come 6 in a pack, and A.C. Moore always has them on sale for $7.45.  Good enough for me.  The matting and little flag embelishments are from an Anna Griffin set I bought on HSN.  I don’t remember what the kit was called, but I bought it because it was 60% off, and I wanted the die that came with the kit.  I’m not really an Anna Griffin fan – I don’t get the thrill of simply gluing down embelishments to make a card.  Now, she has a huge following, and if her kits are your bag, there’s no judgment here.  Do whatever makes you happy.  That just wouldn’t make me happy.

And, here’s one with the fruit stamp;

This card is straight up watercolor. And, as always when my watercolor goes awry, I added some splashes to make my mistakes look intentional.

Next up, July:

I didn’t get around to using July until nearly August, and when I did, I realized that I had already lost that big flower stamp in the middle.  I have no idea where it went.  I’m certain it will show up . . . or it won’t.  I find it hard to believe that it fell in the trash, but you never know.  As you can see, I used the back of the sheet to do a color swatch of my Spectrum Noir markers – oops – I just grabbed what was closest to me, and this was it.

Here’s what I made with August:

First, I colored these images, and then I contemplated, hmmm, what to do now . . .

I used my Crafters Companion edge dies that came with the last Crafters Companion inspiration magazine, another HSN autoship.  Because I cut my paper around my stamped girl too small, I had a hard time figuring out where to put a sentiment.  Oh well.  I originally markered the birds in blue, and I really didn’t like that.  So, I went back to the watercolors for the birdies. The girl is Spectrum Noir markers.

I feel like I’ve used this kit more, but I think I feel that way because I stamped alot of sentiments trying to fit them on the girl card, and they just didn’t work out right.  I did use the big sunflower that says believe on the stem as a envelope decoration.  Unity has this new line of stamps for envelope decorating, but in truth, any stamp can be used to decorate an envelope, right?  So, no need for extra purchases there.

And finally, August.  August is the first kit that came in the mail, and I said, meh.  I think because there’s no girl, no critter, and a repeat of the butterlies.

I did play with it this weekend, and made these two cards:

 

 

The first card was an attempt to use my Crafters Companion first auto ship Kinetic Card, the side stepper die.  The problem with this die, which some would argue is not a problem at all, is that it sized for an A2 envelope, but that makes that side panel really small, and none of these kit stamps really fit on it, except for maybe the butterflies.  So, I tried to make a stepped garden, and I’m ok with the results.  I used a few of my watercolor Art Impressions Stamps as well, with distress inks and Tombow markers.

The second card, the poppies, has gotten a bit of Instagram love, and it was so easy peasy to make – here it goes.  Take your stamp, and ink it up with distress ink.  I used red on top, olive on the bottom.  Spritz the stamp with water, get it good and wet.  Stamp.  Put that one aside.  Stamp again – use this lighter, wetter version.  Tap in watercolor – dark near the center, lighter as you go up, dark in the folds of the flower.  That’s it.  The water will do most of the work for you.  And that’s it – you too can be a watercolor mad genius!

So, for my next card trick, I’m thinking of making a few of these boxes for holiday gifts and filling them with watercolor cards – maybe.

 

A Fabric Experiment

As you know, I’m a sucker for a sale.  So, when Ivy Newport ran a super duper birthday sale (40% off!) on most of the classes on her website, I took advantage and purchased a class, Fabric in Time with mixed media artist Stephanie Rubiano.

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This was a class I camethisclose to purchasing at full price, but with Skillshare and Creativebug enough to keep me busy, I just couldn’t justify it.  But, can’t beat almost half off, right?  Anyway, the class is chocked full of good advice and helpful tips about how to print on fabric, paint on fabric, and add embelishments to your final piece.  There’s also a bonus lesson on encaustic wax, but setting up a wax station is really not in my budget right now.

This class combines so many of the things I love – vintage photography, painting and embroidery, that I was immediately inspired, and went to work with the products I had on hand.  I can’t remember why, but I bought a set of cabinet cards from an etsy seller a long time ago that were perfect for this project, and I scanned them into my computer.  I then printed out my photos on quilting cotton.  My first attempt went wonky, but the second attempt was pretty good.  There’s a 50% coupon for AC Moore today, so I’m thinking about trying the InkJet printable fabric sheets, but we’ll see.  Then, I went into a creative frenzy, and whipped up my girl before I took any photos.  Because I immediately went to work, I didn’t exactly have all of the supplies I needed.  For instance, I didn’t have any finishing spray – so I had a little problem with the water on my brush mixing with the ink on the photo, but I just moved the paint around, and embroidered on top of any water blotches.

You can see the original photo in the top corner.  And you can see more improvising.  To give the cards structure, Stephanie uses a double sided fusible, and creates a fabric sandwich.  The only double sided stablizer I have is the Bosal Foam fusible, which is really great for tote bags, and quilted wallets and such, but not so great for this project.  While it lends stability, it doesn’t really have that stiffness that painting on a stiff fabric interfacing would have.  But, I made do.

You can see she’s a little puffy from the foam, but eh, it’s all good.  As you can see, I had a bit of a water issue on the edge there, but again, no big deal.  I mean, if I were going to sell it or something, it would be problematic, but for the walls of my craft room, I’m good with it.  The little background embelishments are sequins with seed beads, and the stitching is a combination of lazy daisies, french knots, and cross stitch.  I had to watch a few refresher videos on the stitching, but it came back.

To finish her off, I trimmed the card down, punched some holes with my crop-a-dile, and inserted eyelets.  Then, I used this funky beaded wire that I’ve had in my stash forever and never knew quite what to do with to add a hanger –

All done! I thought about binding the edge to hide the water splotch, but again, eh. She’s just hanging with the rest of the girls on the craft wall, no crafting police here.

I was really excited to start my next girl, but unfortunately, it was back to work on Monday, and then I didn’t get back into the craftroom until last night. By then, I had thought of so many ideas of what to do, and I had a vision of what I wanted her to look like.

Here’s the before:

I had this idea that I was going to embroider hanging flower baskets in the window, and lots of little white french knots on her collar and her cuffs. And then, I went south -I don’t know why – and the further south it went from my vision, the more I messed it up:

I hate how bright the blue is in the window. So, I abandoned my hanging basket idea, and thought maybe I’d cover the whole window with a vine. Then, instead of using my perle cotton thread that I love, I went with a cheap craft embroidery thread because the color was better, and my stitches look so sloppy. It didn’t help that I cut the fabric too small to get good tension in the hoop. Then, the only white paint I had on hand was a fluid acrylic, and that interacted horribly with the ink from the printer, and I got a really ugly stain on her dress. I tried to cover it up and it just kept getting worse. So, then I painted it red. I hate how the red looks with the pink ribbon roses. Sigh. She’s going in the garbage and I’m going to start over. This time, I’m going to print her the same size, but on a full sheet of paper, so I can get the fabric tight enough in the hoop. I’m going to go back to my original vision of the baskets in the window, and the knots on her dress. As for the blue windows – I’m going to stick with the blue, but I’m going to use a really light colored pencil instead of paint, so it’s just a faded outdoor look.  I’m ok with starting over.  Sometimes projects just don’t work out.

And, while I still have a few more cabinet cards to play with, I ordered these tintypes from ebay:

I really love this one:

Since she’s already got the crazy faux outdoor backdrop going, I can see myself embroidering wildflowers or trees or something behind her.  We’ll see.  Of course, when I ordered then, I didn’t really think about putting the tin on my scanner – I’m really afraid of scratching the bed.  I may try to photograph them rather than scan them, but I don’t have a light box.  Another problem to be solved!  But, it’s craft, it’s all good.

Stay tuned!

Not About the Eclipse

I know, today is all about the eclipse, and here I am, inside blogging for the first time in two months.  That’s what happens when you don’t get your NASA approved solar eclipse glasses – forced to finally blog.  I’m just going to have to watch some shade from my window.

Ah, now there’s some sun for you.  Last week we visited with Joe’s parents in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.  Doesn’t get much better than that!  Oh, unless you’re doing some arting on that lovely beach as well:

If you’re ever looking for an easy peasy travel project, pick up this book:

Remember those Ed Emberly books when we were kids? Well, when I was a kid – How to Draw Animals, Monsters, etc., that broke the creature down into shapes – draw a rectangle body, draw a rectangle shape, draw a triangle ear, etc., and then at the end you had a dog, a cat, or a whatever.  This book is the Ed Emberly book of flowers for the drawing impaired.  Every flower is broken down into steps, the steps are basically shapes, until the last step, when you do little hashmarks for shading.  If I can do it, you can do it.

Here’s me doing a daisy and a couple of tulips:

And, here’s a paper garden –

It actually makes me look like I know what I’m doing! In any event, the directions are easy to follow, and the materials are extremely portable – just a pencil, a micron pen and a sketchbook.  No fuss.

Now, for something that doesn’t look like I know what I’m doing – watercolors.  These are supposed to be peonies, garden roses, and anemones.

Remember the Show Me Your Drills challenge from the Happily Ever Crafter? Maybe not, because my blogging is so inconsistent, I may have forgotten to mention it altogether. The drills challenge was a calligraphy practice workshop – every day you either practiced your upstroke, or your downstroke, or connecting letters, or something of the sort.  Anyway, Happily Ever Crafter joined forces with water color artist, Stephanie Fehrenbach for a new challenge, Show Me Your Florals.  Everyday a watercolor lesson appeared in my inbox, and I kind of went, eh.  Every watercolor class starts the same way – how to mix colors, how to control the water on your brush, and paper etc.  I’d already done much of the exercises through Skillshare.  The week wrapped up with florals, finally.  I did end up buying the workbook at the end – which was what it was all leading up to anyway.  On the first day, the workbook was $12 – which was a nice deal, since all of the flowers that are illustrated in the book are also demoed on video.  I don’t know if I’d pay $24 for it though, since so much of it is on Skillshare and Creativebug.  But, for the price of two Starbucks frozen coffees, I was good with it.  Although, as you can see, my efforts weren’t so hot – I have to admit, I didn’t try very hard, nor did I practice very much.  We were packing up for vacation, and my craftroom was like 100F – so hooooottt!  Anyway, even though my flowers are meh, I’m not one to waste good watercolor paper, and I turned them into cards –

A good splash of watercolor is always a good background for a card, and they’re supposed to be abstract.

This one was a big sloppy wreath that I ended up cutting down to fit on a card base.  I did cut away some of the good bits, but i think it looks pretty ok The stamps are from Unity.  Not part of the monthly kit, but part of one of their sales.  There’s always a sale.  Luckily I get the monthly kit, or I’d be in big trouble.

By the way, I’ll revisit the kit next post, but I have to say, I have not bought one extra stamp (except for these creativity sentiments from Unity, that I bought because they work so well with anything) since subscribing three months ago.  Does that mean that I’m spending a little extra to save more in the long run?

Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Crafting On – Starting Point at the End Point

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Ah, this time last week we were just arriving in sunny California for the E3 conference. Myself, I’m not a big gamer. I dabbled in a little World of Warcraft, but I got bored with that, and I’m just not coordinated enough to play shoot em up games. But, for my husband and stepson, going to E3, the video game industry’s yearly conference at which they unveil all of the new games and gaming gear for the upcoming year, was like winning the Golden Ticket to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. it was like three straight days of Christmas.

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We did do the touristy things of course, like going to the Griffith Park Observatory, and hitting the beach and the pier at Santa Monica.

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Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

I was sorely disappointed when we went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and I actually got to visit the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars.  It’s just a strip mall!  All of the glamour, gone.  Oh well.  Unfortunately, the last few days of the trip were hampered by Joe catching some kind of a horrible cold (I had something before we left, but I find it hard to believe that he would have developed it over a week later), so we didn’t get to go on our Hollywood Homes tour, as recommended by the Ellen DeGeneres show, darn!  And, we didn’t go to Venice Beach.  Maybe we’ll be back, maybe not.  I feel like we packed in a lot before Joe went down.  Gamer down!

Anyway, needless to say after listening to him hack up a lung for two days, I was ready to be home, and as soon as I got home, I got to work finishing up the last clue of the Joji MKAL, Starting Point.

Brilliant finish – no grafting!

 

I guess the question to ask at the end any MKAL is, would I have knit this if it weren’t an MKAL, if it had just been released as a stand alone pattern?

In this case, it’s difficult to say.  I used all stash yarn – I don’t know if I would have gone stash diving had I knit this with true intention.  And, I don’t know if I would have wanted to make the big investment in yarn that this gigantic thing calls for.  So, I’m really happy with the end result, I’m pleased with my stash busting, but I’m not sure if I would have looked at this and said, yep, I want to spend $150 to make this.  I don’t know.  But, I’m certainly not sad it’s now in my wardrobe.

After that big knit, I found myself ready for some crochet.  I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was wandering through Michael’s while Joe got his hair cut (I’ve convinced him that the Hair Cuttery next to Michael’s is so much better than the one next to Whole Foods), these Caron Cakes were on sale, 30% off – and my curiosity got the best of me.  I don’t knit with acrylic, so the project was going to be crochet, and I thought, yep, that is actually what I’m in the mood for – crochet it is!  Caron Cakes is actually 20% wool, and that bit of wool really makes a difference.  If you put this yarn in a bag with pure wool, and I were blindfolded, I’d probably have a tough time identifying the fakery.  Unlike a pure acrylic, this doesn’t feel stiff, nor does it squeak like the Caron pound skeins.  Because of the color changes, I really wanted to do something that just went round and round, so here is the beginnings of my shell blanket:

Easy peasy.  Round and round.  Of course, while I’m doing this easy peasy thing, I have my eye on something harder, the Nuts for Squares CAL, but I’ve promised myself I’m going to finish this first, or at least finish off the four skeins that I bought of the Caron Cakes, before I invest in another project – gotta keep that wandering eye looking firmly straight ahead.  It’s so easy to get distracted, and you have too much Ravelry time on your hands.

So, that’s what I’m crafting on about, hope your summer crafting is moving right along was well.  Linking up with Linking up with Frontier Dreams, Crafting On!

Not Yarning Along, Crafting On!

Hello Wednesday!  Is it really you!  Good to see you, my time suck of a calendar day.  Before the day goes poof, here’s a run down of the knit/crochet happenings since February –

The Ambah MKAL

As you may recall, my knit started out looking like this:

But I hated the cartoony speckle, and ripped it out – then it looked like this:

I was kind of meh about it, but I did finish it.  It looks like this:

 

I guess it turned out ok – I haven’t even blocked it, or weaved the ends in.  I guess I’m still meh about it.

Buzz the House Fly

So, to cheer myself up about my meh-ness, I decided to crochet a Lalylala critter – looking through my stash, I didn’t have the best combo of solid finger colors, so I went with some purple Koigu and Buzz, the House Fly:

 


I think he turned out super cute!  Emboldened with my amigurumi prowess, I decided to finally try an Octopus for a Preemie.

Octopus Fail

I joined this Facebook group probably the week it started, as I had seen an article about the program, and thought, well, since I like crocheting critters, and my husband doesn’t appreciate them, and my nieces and nephews are really getting to old for stuffed animals, this seems like a good idea.

I waited to crochet a little guy, though, because the group was just getting organized, and in the beginning, there was a lot of confusion, and a lot of failed Octopi.  Then, the group came up with a system of becoming a certified crafter – in order to ensure that the Octopi complied with the strict guidelines, you had to upload photos of your Octopus passing certain tests to show that the the tentacles weren’t too short/too long and that your stitching was tight enough.  So, after finishing my bug, I decided to give it a go –

On the face of it, it looks like the little guy passed.  But, alas, after it went to an Octopus Ambassador, who again threw it in her washer/dryer, the holes opened up, and the tentacles stretched out, and the head got smooshy.  I didn’t even bother to mail in my second one – I just gave it to my dog.  Later, it was revealed that others had problems with this yarn – I think it’s Caron, and while still approved, since it is cotton and it doesn’t bleed, it was kind of use with caution.

So, I pondered whether I wanted to go back to the drawing board, maybe with a different yarn, and the answer was no.  I broke every nail on my fingers, crocheting so tightly, and with the required yarn under method of crocheting – and my nails were not long to begin with – so they were broken down to below the tips of my fingers.  And, I had also managed to stab myself under the nail with the hook a couple of times, and I was literally sore for a week after finishing one.  So, while this is a good cause, there are over 13,000 people in the group, and they are much better crocheters than I.  And, I had already washed and dried the little guy above, and my machinery just doesn’t have the juice that the official tester had – or I would have already seen the problems, and never mailed it in in the first place.  I tried, I failed, I’m not going to beat myself up.

Which brings me to my current knit, the Joji Mystery Wrap

 

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When I first saw this MKAL, I wasn’t even on the fence, it was just a big no! I had no desire to knit a gigantic rectangle. It seemed like way too much boring knitting. But, then I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool (more on that another day), and it was kitted up everywhere – every booth had some kind of Joji MKAL kit, and I was mesmerized. But, I didn’t buy yarn – five skeins of fingering yarn is a big investment – the Miss Babs kits were $132, the Bare Naked Fibers was even more. Of course, it’s fantastic yarn, and for a project that wasn’t a mystery, reasonable. But, for a mystery … especially after the meh Ambah MKAL . . . So, I pulled random fingering Shetland out of my stash, and said, not perfect, but good to go.

It’s a really easy knit; it’s mostly garter, and fantastic t.v. knitting.  I’m relieved that it’s not developing like your typical rectangle.  And at this point, there are no live stitches on a holder, so that says to me no grafting – hopefully these two pieces will come together some other way, because I hate grafting.  We shall see.  Two more clues to go!

And there we have it, all of the yarning since February – I think.  I feel like I’m missing something – oh yeah, my Kate Davies’ sweater.  That’s on the back burner, maybe never to return – it was turning out pretty small, and I have to totally reknit a sleeve that turned out wonky.

 

 

Oh my!  I just went to link up with the Yarn Along and discovered it ended in March!  All of that Waiting for Wednesday and there wasn’t any Wednesday left!!!!

So Godot, really . . .

Go figure!

Linking up with the suggested alternative to the Yarn Along, Nicole at Frontier Dreams – Keep Calm and Craft on my friends!