Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday, 2/29/2012

I kinda love that the leap year falls on a Wednesday, now it'll be immortalized in this post! :)

This week is all about cross stitch! I remain entirely in the mood to work on embroidery, so I'm just going with it, and I had a fair number of evenings at home this week, so I actually got a lot done.

Dragonfly and Lotus Cross Stitch

I've made a lot of progress, I think! I've now got noticeably less than a quarter of the canvas left, and it's even a bit less than that, because I've mostly done the middle part (inside the pink ring) which is mostly cross stitch, whereas the border is mostly half-stitches, which take MUCH less time, so with that little of the center left, I should be done with the cross stitching quite soon (given my schedule this week, I suspect I can have this part of the project done by early next week). That'll just leave the back stitching! There is a LOT of back stitching in this project, though - pretty much every gold-lined "panel" has backstitching all around it on both sides of the gold. And I HATE back stitching. I wouldn't be surprised if I put this aside and get the backstitching for an older project done first.

Other Cross Stitch and Embroidery
Last weekend, I decided to go through my craft drawers. I keep most of my craft stuff in bins, which I've gone through a few times in recent memory, but smaller stuff (such as cross stitch patterns, knitting needles, bobbins of thread, etc.) are in drawers which I tend to just stuff full of whatever comes to hand. So, I decided to de-clutter, make a bit of room, and remind myself what was in the drawers; I last went through them about two years ago. Since I'm in the mood to cross stitch, I particularly focused on what cross stitch patterns were in the drawers that I'd already started. I knew I had a fair few, but it was actually a bit more than I thought, and I figured I'd share.

I don't even like this one very much, but I bought it at a time when I was really in need of SOMETHING to do. I only worked on it a couple days, though, hence why so little is done! I'll have to decide if I even like this one enough to bother making it...

I started working on this one when I was an undergrad, so about 7 years since I last touched it. I think it's lovely, but it has a lot of quarter stitches and such, and so was driving me nuts. Still, it's relatively small, so I really should put in the time and just finish the darn thing...

This is the oldest WIP in the pile. I started this and did this work on it when I was in high school - so more than 10 years ago. It'd probably take roughly an hour to finish, so I imagine I'll just DO it. I've always liked beading...

Early in college, I decided I wanted to get better at embroidery. So, I bought this, started it...then got distracted and stopped. Another project that I have to seriously consider if it's worth taking the time to do anything else with.

Yet another undergrad project. I actually always forget that I did even this much on this cross stitch. My then-boyfriend thought the cross stitching was kinda cool, so he picked out this one and asked me to make it for him. I just never finished, probably because it wasn't a kit, which meant it wasn't as easily portable. Also, not long after I started this (which was probably around 2002) I decided to make a MASSIVE project for my mother, a cross stitch that took me, on and off, about two years to finish (but I DID eventually, I call it my master work...). That kinda ate all my x-stitch energy. ;)

This is the most recent of these WIP, I worked on this a bunch in 2008 (again, I did more on it than I remembered). This was kinda interesting, I decided that I would keep track of how long I worked on it each day, cause I realized I haven't the foggiest idea how long it actually takes me to make a cross stitch, just that it feels like a long time. So I took pictures of each day's progress, and wrote down how long it took. When I get back to this one - which, I'd say, is mostly like to be next on my list if I keep feeling like cross stitching once I finish the Dragonfly and Lotus and the Fairy I've got sitting around just waiting for back stitching - I'll continue to do that, and write about it here.

See what everyone is up to on WIP Wednesday at Tami's Ami and Other Creations blog!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring Photography

It's been an unseasonably warm winter here in New York City, and while I'll admit I miss the snow, I can't deny that with everything else that's been going on in my life it's been nice not to face lots of freezing cold days and slippery sidewalks.

I've really not had the photography bug of late, and it's worried me. I feel like I've made it too much like work (like I've done with so many other things) as I've striven to only take really good pictures, and that I'm very hard on myself when I get home and, "oh, it's out of focus!" "oh, it's crooked!" "oh, I could have done so much better if only I'd..."

I want to get away from feeling that way. I wanted to remind myself of what I like about photography. Thursday was in the mid-fifties here, and with that gorgeous sign of spring just around the corner, I decided to go for a walk in Central Park and see what I could see. I'd already seen ample evidence in the preceding week that even though it's only late February, spring was really starting to be sprung, so I went hunting for spring flowers. (primarily in the two place I expected most to find them: the Shakespeare Garden and the Conservatory Garden). I wasn't disappointed...

View of the lake, the bridge, with the Central Park South skyline in the background. Okay, I promised flowers, none yet, but give it a few shots. ;)

Squirrel seemed pretty happy with those red berries all over the ground...

Central Park South again, pity I couldn't get any ducks in this shot, there were a bunch around just hangin' out.

I found this wish tied to a tree. To whoever wrote it...I hope you will, too!

Hellebore was blooming all over the place, but as is so often the case, I found it very hard to get a good shot that really showed off how beautiful this flower is...

There were snowdrops. Oh, were there snowdrops. :) There were also crocus, irises, forsythia, some stuff I couldn't name, and - in very sunny spots - daffodils! In FEBRUARY!

Anyway, I've also been VERY good about labeling pictures on Flickr this past week. I've just been plowing through old sets; I'd estimate that I've gotten through around 1000 pictures just this past week! If I can keep that pace up, I'll be caught up in the summer, I guess. Well, that's a sobering idea of just how far behind I am! However, as of now, I've labeled every picture I've taken in 2012 - which isn't saying much, since I haven't taken that many - and I've "only" got 31 unlabeled sets from 2011 (comprising a few thousand pictures). 2009 and 2010, I'm still plenty behind on - but even that, I've chipped away over this past week, tackling some of the sets that have been lingering longest. lol, at this rate, I'll soon have labeled all the pictures I took in Puerto Rico, three years ago February. Well, it's something. ;) It'd be nice if I can get to the point that I'm less than three years behind (I remember, back in 2009, the goal was to not be ONE year behind! Those were the days!). While pursuing my goal of catching up (last year, this time, I was hoping to catch up before I hit 2,000,000 views on my Flickr account. Well, that didn't happen. This year, I'm hoping to catch up before I hit 3,000,000 hits - which is still 4 or 5 months off or so...) I ended up labeling some spring pictures from last year, which reminded me of what I have to look forward to in the months ahead. There were lots of daffodil and tulip pics, but I don't know, those somehow never turn out quite right. They never capture the essence of that marvelous thing that IS a daffodil. But there were a few others I thought were good...(these pictures were ALSO all taken in either the Shakespeare Garden or the Conservatory Garden in Central Park...)

Like magnolias!

And this lily thing!

And I got one tulip I thought was pretty good!

And I have no idea what this one was, but I got the lighting right!

Have a great Sunday, everyone. ;)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finished Object Friday, 2/24/2012

Wow, I've finished something TWO WEEKS IN A ROW! It's like...Christmas or something. :) Or not. I don't know. But there's spinning, that I do know. ;)


Goal was pretty simple. Spin a single, as thin as I could, using "luxury alpaca blend" (85% baby alpaca and 15% bombyx silk) that I bought from Little Barn at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year. I figured a silk blend would be a good trial for thinness, since it'll take being spun VERY thin. Anyway, I had 4 ounces of fiber, I spun them all. I wanted to leave it as single primarily so that I could meet a Nerd Wars challenge. Silly reason, I know, but hey, why not? Anyway, I finished last night. I had so much yardage that it took over an hour just to transfer it on to a niddy-noddy. Which was annoying. But at long last, I was finished!

I had a lot of trouble getting the colors to photograph true, but it's actually a dark green heather with some lighter fibers mixed in, including some light blue and some yellow. It's quite pretty, though VERY dark. It's also VERY thin.

When I wrapped it around something, I was getting something like 40 to 50 WPI. So...thin lace weight, bordering in to cobweb. Despite that, it held together pretty well - it pulled apart like five times when I was transfering it to the niddy-noddy; I was worried it would pull apart MUCH worse than that. And I have almost exactly 750 yards of the stuff.

Now I just have to figure out what on earth to do with it...

Want to see more fabulous work by other crafters? Check out Wisdom Begins in Wonder and Tami's Ami and Other Creations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday, 2/22/2012

Wait, I'm actually keeping my resolution to keep posting? WOOT!

It hasn't been a great week for crafts. Oddly, it hasn't really felt like it's been a great week for ANYTHING. Somehow, I've been busy almost every day, yet I feel like I've gotten virtually nothing done. I've been working hard to dispel that feeling by concentrating on what I HAVE gotten done...but it still doesn't feel like enough, and that's frustrating, since the only standard I'm ACTUALLY trying to meet is my own, and I can't seem to let go of these ludicrously high standards that always get me in to trouble.

Anyway. I haven't gotten all that much crafting done this week. I had hoped to do a bunch of cross stitch on Friday, but I forgot to bring my project with me to the all-day work thing where said crafting was to take place, so that plan was DOA. However, I have done a bunch of spinning!

I've only very rarely deliberately tried to spin as thin-thin-thin as I could. But when I remembered that I had a bit more fiber in the house (I'm running quite low, and I'm still in the mood to spin, so this is a problem that is definitely going to come to a head BEFORE I get to Maryland Sheep and Wool the first weekend of May...) and when, after digging said fiber out, I found it to be a nice dark green/heather alpaca/silk blend, I figured this was an excellent material to see how low...I mean, how thin...I could go. :)

The answer is...pretty darn thin. I won't measure it til I'm done, and spinning 4 oz. this thinly is taking for-fricken-ever, but still, I've got to finish eventually, right? :)

Meanwhile, I've been spending a fair amount of time labeling photographs and moving on that part of things. I'm also writing fiction again! In the past two weeks, I've gotten down close to 8,000 words of a new story. Since my ostensible goal is only 2,000 words a week, I'm pretty happy to have written way more than that, even though it's all flagrantly self-indulgent, Mary Sue drivel. I just keep reminding myself it doesn't matter if it's garbage, I'm reminding myself that writing, badly or well, is just a habit, and one that I CAN fit in to my current life. Oh, and last week I also started a blog about the US Civil War, which is a passion of mine - it's here, if by any chance that's an interest of yours, as well - the content is going to be a mixture of book reviews, discussions of period art and documents, some related photography I've done, and - primarily - discussion and analysis of historical speeches. All of this is being done with a target audience of teachers and teaching-types in mind, though of course I'm still getting it up and running.

So...that's been my in progress activity for the week. :) How about everyone else? Check out what folks have been up to over at Work in Progress Wednesday on Tami's Amis and Other Creations Blog. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I was reading earlier this week about some of the terrible things going on in Greece as that country faces their economic disaster. It got me thinking about all of the things I'd seen in Greece, and just how much of our cultural heritage we stand to lose if things there go really south. I went back to the immense task of labeling my pics from that trip (man, I'm SO far behind, have so many pictures from, like, my last four trips to label, over the past 3 did I get SO far behind? Time just flies!)

Anyway, I tackled the first set that looked interesting and like I could label it pretty quickly: images from Rhodes!

Rhodes is an ancient and beautiful city, and unlike most cities in Europe, still looks much as it has for hundreds of years.

This is a very typical view of what a street in Rhodes looks like. Some are wider, some narrower; some have tourist shops and restaurants spilling out in to the street, but all of them are of the same stone, and many have overhangs, arches, and connectors across the street.

There are also kinds of nifty little architectural touches - ancient looking lamps, plaques dedicated to Orders and governments and all those who had a presence on the island.

The ancient walls are still standing, and they command fantastic views out towards the ocean.

And then there is the ocean and the sky...

Yeah, it really looked like that. It was absolutely gorgeous, I liked Rhodes, despite the tourist-y atmosphere.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finished Object Friday - 2/17/2012

Not loads to say for myself today, and I've got to run out the door, but I do, for the first time in AGES, have a finished object to show for the last week, and dang it, I'm going to show the darn thing!! :)

I did some spinning! The red is merino; the white is loose-carded tussah silk. I drew them together, so each single of the ply includes both types of fibers. It's pretty much the first time I've ever intentionally tried to make a bulky yarn, because of the way that the tussah formed pretty, fibery clumps. :)

I'm pretty happy with it. This is pretty much exactly how I wanted it to turn out! :)

Other people have way more to show for their Friday's than I do! Take a peak at Wisdom Begins in Wonder - Fiber Arts Friday - and Tami's Amis and Other Creations - Finished Object Friday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday, 2/15/2012

Well, I fell behind in my blogging the last couple weeks. I wish I could say I had a good reason, but the simple truth is that I haven't been doing much crafting, but I HAVE been spending a lot of time trying to get my head screwed back on straight. All in all, it's been a rough month and a half, but I'm really starting to feel like myself again, and with that - slowly but surely - has come a return to a desire to craft. Along with that, I'm taking a new approach to this blog. I will post three times a week, period. On Wednesdays, I'll talk about my current projects. On Friday, I'll talk about anything I've finished, and also just whatever other fiber-craft I feel like discussing, and on Sunday, I'll do a post about photography. I may do other posts occasionally on other stuff, but the goal is: three posts a week. I think, by not making it an "every day" optional thing and instead focusing on a "regularly scheduled" thing, it'll work better for the way that I approach work. ;)

I think it's one of those really hard things, as a crafter, to acknowledge and accept that sometimes we just don't feel like crafting, and that that doesn't mean that there is something wrong with us, or that we've failed, or that we're letting anyone down. It's a tough thing to accept, though - I know I tend to feel like, well, as long as I've got two hands with which I can keep doing this stuff, I ought to ALWAYS want to do it. But I don't. And I'm really focusing on telling myself that that's OKAY! ;)

Anyway, there are a few work-in-progress going on!

Paint Chip Collage

Last month, I got my bathroom repainted, which meant I had to go to Benjamin Moore. I decided ahead of time that I'd have some fun with it, and pick up some paint chips to play with. At first, I went about it in my usual systematic way (I should take one of each chip!) but, I told myself, let's just RELAX, and have fun with it! So I grabbed every sample that appealed to me. Then, when I'd done that, I went through again and pulled out ones that I really, really loved. At the time, I was planning to do a rainbow waterfall with the chips, but now I have a different plan. In the next day or two, I hope to execute it (though I've noticed that I've been putting it off...I think the prospect intimidates me, what if I do a bad job, as if I have any one's standards to live up to but my own...wait, my own are stupidly high! ;) ) ...but I don't want to spoil the surprise. I hope to have it ready to share by Friday...though it's entirely possible it'll end up being next Friday, instead. :)

Dragonfly and Water Lily Cross Stitch

I've made a LOT of progress on my dragonfly and water lily cross stitch. I've been taking it with me to all of my meetings of late, and because it's on 14 count Aida, and doesn't involve THAT many colors, it's been coming together very quickly. There was one day, last week, where I made two ENORMOUS mistakes, but I ended up deciding to leave them, because one of the beautiful things about a project like this? Unless I tell folks, no one will EVER know the difference. Can you spot them?


Positive? :)

Well, one of the sections along the border, the whole thing is one row to the right of where it should be, and I had to make some other changes to not make it mess up stuff. That's the less obvious mistake. Can't imagine anyone would EVER notice. The other, well, it does look a little strange, but the stylized "stained glass" look hides it well - that lily pad on the bottom? I used the wrong shade of green for a rather large section of it. There was SUPPOSED to be another shade between the darker shade and the two lighter shades, but I goofed. But ya know what? Screw it. Just much too much to undo, so I went with it. :)

(close up on a section that DOESN'T have any massive mistakes. ;) It's a VERY simple pattern, but I do love the colors...

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
The other thing that I've been up to is that I'm still working my way through the Artist's Way, one chapter at a time, approximately one chapter per week (it's actually been taking more like 8 or 9 days per chapter, just fitting it in around my schedule). I can't say it's really "doing it" for me, but I've decided to keep at it because I do think I'm getting something out of it, if not as much as I want to. The further in I get, the more I've been modifying the program to suit my own needs. Earlier this week, I switched from writing my daily journal in the evening from writing it in the morning, and it's doing me a world of good. I wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready, the issues of yesterday are out of my mind. When I write my journal in the morning, all I do is stir up all the mess first thing in the day, and it was leaving me feeling drained and sad. This way, I put everything to rest right before I go to bed, keep my thoughts from distracting me before trying to sleep, and wake up the next day with everything out of my mind. And I no longer get stuck setting an alarm for 4:30 AM so I have time to write before my earliest work days. Definitely a plus. :)

But in the end? My biggest objection to her remains her idea that creativity comes from an external source and flows through us. I don't think that AT ALL, and no amount of reading her work has yet convinced me. I feel so empowered because I believe that creativity is something WITHIN me, that all I have to do is let it have it's way, it's my own strength, my own abilities, my own empowerment. It's funny, because if I were asked to describe it I'd probably use very similar terms to Cameron - I could see someone telling me, "no, you're saying the same thing she is!" But I'm really not - she says that creativity comes from outside of us and we're just a conduit, and I say that creativity comes from deep within ourselves and is all our own. Still, I find her exercises interesting, so I'm going to keep at it, I think I can get SOMETHING out of it, and it's at least interesting stuff to think about. ;)

Read about what everyone else has been making this week, over on Tami's Ami and Crochet blog!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick Update!

I've been busy, but this blog ain't been forgotten! In fact, I'm changing my approach! From now on, I'll be posting regularly three times a week, every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Wednesday posts will focus on WIP, Friday's will focus on what I'm up to and what I've finished and what I'm planning, and Sunday will focus on photography. I think that, by getting this a bit more organized and a bit less haphazard, I'll be better about posting regularly. :) That's the hope, anyway!