Category Archives: Crafti-mess

Creative chaos at its finest!

“April pinked the earth with flowers”

This was my spring. A lot of flowers had a chance to bloom–my career, my sense of adventure…my love for my family.

I moved a thousand miles away, and nearer in that last respect. It takes a plane to visit my parents now, but my sister is practically my neighbor!  I thought I knew what city living was like, but Boston is a whole different speed for me. These days I take a commuter train in to work and nearly every morning it’s quieter than a library–50 people shuffling their shoulders in communal private time. Most people read on various screens but it’s given me time to make my quilt bloom as well.

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A Little More Better

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I keep ending up with unfinished stacks.

Stacks of laundry, unread books, unfinished work, and the mental press of things I (should already have done) need to do.

There’s also a pile of fabric scraps and a cutting board that’s taken up semi-permanent residence on my living room floor. Did I mention I’ve taken up another crafting hobby?

This actually breaks a self-made rule I made about a year ago in an attempt to stay focused on the ones I’ve already got. I’m a dabbler, and my joy comes from the doing. But it would be nice to have something completely finished for once! From today’s count I have:

  • 3 spindles half full of different yarns
  • 1 draped, pinned, basted but not sewn nightgown
  • A stack of mending
  • 1 crocheted scrubby half finished
  • Half a dozen cloth yo-yo’s to make into a necklace
  • A drawer that I (attempted) to paint that needs to be re-done so it can be used in a display

On the the one hand it’s reassuring to have lots of projects going. If my wrist acts up from crocheting, I can switch to sewing, or take a break from cutting dozens of tiny squares out for English paper piecing. On the other, I feel almost…guilty? I don’t have expertise in any of the crafts I’ve taken up. I’ve got a beginner to intermediate skill level in each, with a broad knowledge of how they interconnect.  Is it more rewarding to do a deep dive into one craft to get a feel for it? I’m debating taking a couple classes in garment construction so I can draft my own patterns, and I’m always on the hunt for folks who know how to use their antique Singer sewing machines and want to share.

The last thing I want to do is make it into work though, and start warbling about ‘subject matter expert’ this and ‘synergies’ that. Nah, I just…want to do a little more, better. And if making a quilt top out of 1.5 inch diameter hexagons doesn’t mean having a little more patience for the better part of a year I don’t know what does!

 

Fix it: quick and dirty shoe-in

That was a bad pun ya’ll. I fixed my house slippers. Have you ever noticed the way slippers are sold in whole sizes, or as a small/medium/large? Why is that? My feet are ‘Large’ but my large is a US 10.5, and in the slipper world Large equals a size 10. Cue sad face.

That’s all to say that I have one magical pair of slippers that fit and are comfy, and I refuse to let them go anytime soon. The rubber soles have been cracking and shedding all over the house, so I ripped those suckers off.

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When I went to trace the outline of shoe onto the new sole, I realized I don’t actually have tailor’s chalk, which would be a crying shame except..

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I found a way to make do.

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Next go round I’ll try a sturdier material, but sewing two layers of felt together did the trick for now. I doodled around on the sewing machine to create traction on the soles, and then super glued it all together. Pro-tip: keep an eye on the proximity between glue and the carpet. Nothing happened! Don’t panic! Just an FYI. Ahem.

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Frugal Find: Headphones

For about a month my earphones have been hanging on by a thread. Well, one cord because only one earbud works.  Since they still function to a degree I’ve been keeping them in use and salivating over this colorful pair:

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Skullcandy headphones

Maybe I’ll still get them at some point, but while I was de-stashing my craft room I actually found a pair of headphones! And dang, the bass sounds good 🙂

I’d like to get to the point where I’ve sorted through and trimmed down every room in the house–that’s a pretty big goal so I’m tackling one stack at a time for now. For my craft room, the end game is  to make better use of the space I have and be able to display some of my vintage feather weight sewing machines. Plus, there’s fabric and materials that have been hanging around in excess of five years.  “I might…make something out of/use/need that later!”  That’s my eternal cry, but being able to donate craft and sewing supplies to The Scrap Exchange makes the process less fraught. Finding things I forgot I had is even better!

Bullion stitch for the win

I’m beasting the crochet hook. Maybe besting is the better word? Whatever, the point is that I can now crochet a bullion stitch. BOOM. In a circle yo.

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Up close and personal:

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That is all.

Is it charming or fugly?

Is the pattern boldly florid? Is it useful and colorful? Chances are I truly like it, or it’s ugly enough to be awesome. Case in point:

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(Excuse the poor photo; the rug truly is rad)

I think this hand crafted rug is awesome. I was browsing a flea market near my parent’s house in the Appalachians Mountains, and I started talking to one of the sellers. As it turns out, she was downsizing and moving to Florida and her good friend hand hooked this rug about thirty years ago. At two dollars, and with that shade of avocado, I just  couldn’t pass it up.

It makes me wonder about who decides what ‘good taste’ is or what ‘classy’ looks like. Does it look like this to you?

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Yup, it’s Crate & Barrel.

I feel more comfortable in surroundings where my personality is given free range,  and I place value in the history, color, and functionality of my selections. I’m waving my yo-yo bracelet-ed arm goodbye to that streamlined, sterile living room…

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Heck yeah I made this bracelet, and I’ve worn it to work too.

…and picking up the next book on my reading list–Deborah Cohen’s Household Gods: The British and Their Possession. As discussed in this blog post:

But what interests me most here is the tension that she [Cohen] establishes between the home as site for self-expression and as a site for identification with others. To a large extent, I think this is correct. When we design our homes for resale value, we’re no longer thinking of our home as ours, but as an investment that will someday have to suit the needs or tastes of someone else.

I think it’s an interesting idea, but I’m still renting. There is no investment other than what I’m willing to spend on a wooden painted parrot to sit on a bookshelf. This house is a shell and when I leave all my goodies are coming with me! Would a doorknob shaped like a fish head put off the hypothetical buyer of my future house? Will the purpose of my decor change once I buy a home? Did yours?

I don’t believe we are defined by our possessions. I do think, however, that your life is enhanced when you can operate in an environment that makes sense to you on a personal level.

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The sound of music ain’t got nothing on this Singer

…even if I can’t say it sews as pretty as a song just yet!  After a week of cleaning, reading and fiddling, my Singer sewing machine is looking pretty good:

1917 Singer sewing machine...aaaaaand Wolverine.

1917 Singer sewing machine…aaaaaand Wolverine.

A couple years ago a relative pieced together and refinished this beauty, and I’m just now diving into how to keep a treadle machine in working order. At this point I’ve got more questions than answers, but I figure starting a master post and then linking to everything useful I find will be helpful for future reference and other people just starting out with an older sewing machine. If you have additional resources or advice, feel free to drop a line in the comments!

  1. How do I wind thread on the bobbin?
  2. When I unscrew the ‘brake’ knob as if to wind the bobbin, the needle still moves. Whyyyyyyyyyy?
  3. How do I clean old oil out of the innards of the body of the machine?
  4. How do I thread this effing bobbin holder.
  5. Adjusting thread tension: how, when, why. Will I be doing this on test swatches for every project sewn?
  6. Where do I put my feet on the treadle?
    1. Why does my treadle have a ridge at the front if a common treadling method is to have one foot further away and the other closer with a heel on the ground?
  7. Methods for taking care of the leather belt
    1. Does the leather belt always stay on the wheel or do you take it off/loosen it like the bow on a violin?
  8. When I use the treadle it feels like it gains momentum and overbalances (not going backwards though). Is it supposed to feel like that?
  9. What are all these attachments?
  10. How do I use each attachment? I really wanna learn do make a button hole using an attachment!