Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Stress-free Christmas

Have a good holiday, everyone! The best decoration is what you put on your plate. Time for me to slay some potatoes and French those beans.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Embroidery as bloodsport?

Hello, The Void. I have not been ignoring you. I have been... distracted. Yes, distracted. Looking for my wage job, maybe having found my wage job, and playing Candy Crush between anxious nail-biting and Etsy order-filling while waiting to hear from the HR department so I can start my training for the wage job.

But today, I tell you about my relationship with paper surgical tape, and why I keep it in my sewing tackle. It's not for piecing slashed patterns back together.

See, machine embroidery doesn't forgive you for being careless. I thought I was helping Gunny Jane, and she told me my micromanaging was not appreciated. She told me through my thumbnail and out the other side that I did not need to help her catch that initial stitch.

(First of all: If you are bleeding because you have sliced a piece of yourself OFF or nearly so, with rhythmic spurting of blood, just compress and contain, and get thee to the nearest emergency ward. You need stitches, and you are not the person to sew yourself up - you need TWO hands to do that. Second: if you're not up to date with your tetanus vaccinations, get your booster! You probably just had a needle go right through your finger in the sewing room, right? What's a little jab in the arm after that? Third: This is what *I* do when I hurt myself. I am not a doctor or a field medic, and I have a reasonably fortified immune system and pain threshold, with tolerance for gore. If you're not sure you need medical help, get the medical help. Be sorry you troubled your doctor with a minor injury, not sorry you didn't, and now have to deal with a massive infection.)

Because I have done stupid stuff like this before, I keep the paper surgical tape on hand to bind the fingernail in place and finish my project. Once the blood stops flowing (takes about 5 minutes of compression) I don't need to bulk up my finger with an absorbent pad. The surgical tape covers the jagged edges of a snipped or pierced fingernail, so I don't painfully snag on my project and reopen the wound. Also, holding that fingernail down will help it grow back normally. And I'm less likely to sew my tape to my project. (Yes. It happened. I learned and moved on.)

And while I keep dishwashing gloves in my tackle for free-motion embroidery and quilting, they also double as, well, dishwashing gloves, for dissolving the water-soluble stabilizer in the freestanding lace project I didn't bleed on when the embroidery machine bit me.

And I know you want to see the thumbnail. It's not Left 4 Dead graphic, but it's enough for some people. Pic is below the cut.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Handmade for the Holidays and Baby Turtles

The Sassy Chameleon Tea and More's Handmade for the Holidays event in Aurora, Ontario is on November 28, 2013, from 2pm to 9pm. I'll have a small table there with these, and many more gifty things for sale, many not listed in my shop. (Seriously: the shipping would cost more than the item!) While $2 from the sale of each of the Baby Turtle patches will go to the Little Res Q, I will make another separate donation to the Yellow Brick House, a women's shelter in York Region. Check out the Sassy Chameleon's event flyer, and stop by, if you're in the area.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Unusual Food Object

 I wasn't sure whether I should eat this or hatch it. It's a jackfruit, or a langka, or kha-nun. I'd tasted it canned, and liked it enough to put it in a banana-jackfruit jam, but the canned fruit was kind of rubbery. I didn't realize what buying a fresh one meant.

I mean, sure, 10lbs of fruit, but I had no idea what was inside. It turns out the ugly fruit is a PEACH MOTHERSHIP!

Thank-you, this website! She Simmers had much better pictures and lots of good suggestions. Which I followed, I swear. Except...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Digital Hoarding

It's the perfect storm: new freebies, plus membership freebies, plus a sale, plus unexpected disposable income...

I acquired 40 new embroidery designs in less than ten minutes. The worst part of it is that I already have hundreds, and probably will die of old age before I finish stitching them all out just once.

Somebody in my family seriously needs to have a fairy-themed baby shower. I have a stampede of unicorns, alone!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Turtle Love

This lovely is for sale in my store (Elven Hands Unparalleled Fabric Oddities). And from the sale of this patch (and others like it, in case a few more people order one), I want to donate $2 of every sale to Little Res Q. Thank goodness they have a very convenient PayPal donation button on their website.

I want to help. Turtles aren't just ninjas to me. And things like this wall of humans in Bonaire remind me that we can do small things that make huge differences to individual creatures.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Customer Service - A Cautionary Tale

What is wrong with this picture?

I know I'm talking to the void here, so my words will have minimal impact on the particular business I used to have my embroidery machine serviced. I cannot seem to send an email with this picture to the business owner, who freely published her email on her website's blog. (Still trying to arrange a day I can go in and speak with her in person, and show her these pictures.)

As I am satisfied that my machine has not suffered for being serviced there, I won't mention names. But if you should find yourself in a predicament with your sewing machine tech shop (or any tech shop), I would like to share my experience.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ha. We have a gap.

Nope, I didn't get buried by those bags and bags of free fabric. I still have to turn sideways to walk to my sewing machine, but they're under control. (No they're not. But if I say it enough, I might start to believe it.)

Gunny Jane is still at the tech shop for her routine maintenance. (That's the big embroidery machine.) So of course, I want to embroider ALL THE THINGS. I've been taking in alterations, in the meantime. And Baby (small embroidery machine for when Gunny Jane is unavailable) is handling the monogramming stuff... but she has only one needle, so I have to be there Every Minute Of The Design so I can change the thread.

And the same person who gave me all that fabric also gave me more than 4kg of cleaned, chopped rhubarb, so I had to preserve THAT before it went off. And my mother-in-law gave me a box of ripe mangoes, and my husband said he'd make sherbet or ice cream with them, but hasn't yet, so I have to take care of THOSE before the flies get them.

Sad thing is that since I'm the only one in the house who eats jam, I have yet to catch up to last year's preserves, and I'm making yet more! And the spring weather in Ontario has been so weird, I still haven't put out my tomato plants.

So, yeah. There's a gap in posts. I think this is going to be normal for the summer.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I truly have a problem

I just helped a friend sort through her mother's fabric stash, destined for a fabric recycler, packed up in about 50 garbage bags.

I came home with five (5) garbage bags of fabric lengths. Highlights include wool felt, polyester felt, and a natural 100% virgin wool length that feels good enough on the skin to spread on toast.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I just took Gunny Jane to the sewing machine spa. I won't see her until Wednesday, next week.

Funny, how the urge to embroider something REALLY BIG strikes the minute you drop your big embroidery machine off for maintenance.

For the Dignified Assassin

 Dignity, with a bit of flash. My son's sai case was both easier and harder to do than my daughter's. There was a learning curve with hers, definitely, but there were a few challenges unique to this case with this design.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Static cling tape

The guy on the left popped up in my worm bin in March. So I planted it in a coffee cup and put it in the window. As of today, we got four purple beans off it, and the cats got to the rest. I don't expect quite as much from the avocado next to it.

But this is a sewing blog, and so I bring up the sewing thing: cling tape!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Off-Label, May, 2013

Does anyone still quilt? And does anyone still pin their sandwiches instead of using basting spray adhesive? And does anyone care that a serrated vegetable peeler will do the same job as a pin-closing doo-thangy you can buy at a quilting store, AND sharpen your marking pencils?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sai Case Details - for the feminine deadly assassin

You get things done when you stop whistling while you work. While you work with a BBQ lighter, anyway.

The Unbroken Thread

 When you find a thread in the carpet upstairs, it's no big deal. It was probably tracked from the sewing room. However, when you pick it up and discover it's still attached to something, you follow that thread to its source.

CATS and SERGERS don't mix.

Friday, May 17, 2013

One thing I learned today, while making a carrier for some kobudo stuff, is that you shouldn't whistle while you work if you're using a lighter to fuse the ends of nylon webbing.

Just thought I'd share that.

I'm supposed to be tidying my work area, and I keep finding things to read

This is just the part I'm not as ashamed to show. But digging through the hoard is a lot like sifting the compost heap: sometimes you turn up the toy soldier from yesteryear, the spoon you probably used to scrape the bottom of the kitchen bucket last year, or the weeding fork that was carelessly tossed into the pile with all the weeds.

I found another list someone at some sewing store or other had made when recommending useful items for sewing. I included a couple of items of my own... and never forwarded the list to the next person. Because that's what happens when you buy fabric without a purpose. And this was OLD, from my own toddler years!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Advice I wanted to give my sister-in-law when she got her first sewing machine

OK, see this, up there? This is why I'm not much into sewing right now. It's springtime in Ontario, an especially cruel, fickle, brief season that follows the cruel, fickle, lengthy winter. It makes whiners of every Canadian you'll ever meet. This is what my gorgeous cherry tree looked like before Mother's Day. Then it snowed and sleeted and rained and sleeted some more on Mother's Day. With some hail on Tuesday morning, as an afterthought. I blame the Toronto Maple Leafs for dragging out their playoff chances. Clearly, SOMETHING had frozen over! (In classic Leafs tradition, when they occasionally make the playoffs, they choke in Game 7 overtime. The temperatures climbed to 22C the next day. Coincidence? Not bloody likely!)

However, in this can't-garden/don't-wanna-sew-wanna-garden weather, I found a box I had NOT sent to my sister-in-law. This is important. She was not supposed to get this box. It contained everything I wish people had not done "for" me when I seriously got back into sewing 15 years ago.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#3 - A real post! Online and Bricks-and-Mortar sales models

OK. There's a project on my table that completely turns off my threadlust, so I figure I should do SOMETHING sewing-related. Like talking to the vacuum. (That'd be this blog that has no followers, because I am still trying to get the hang of writing for an audience, and feel like I should make faces in the mirror, first.)

On the topic of sewing, I would like to relate an interesting and very brief discussion with a senior friend of mine as I packed up my sewing machines at the end of my sewing club session. She used to own a sewing machine/fabric store, which she sold because she wanted to retire. She now works at her son's sewing machine repair/fabric/embroidery store, because retirement isn't her cup of tea, and runs the sewing club. In all, she has over 40 years in the retail business, and a full lifetime of fibre creativity. She's from the time girls took Home Ec. and boys took Shop class because they had to, when you knocked on someone's door to see if they were home, dropped by unannounced to visit at dinner time (and got an invitation to share!)... When people shopped for stuff in person, instead of online.

Interesting, because she was shopping online for a small token of affection for her tween granddaughter: an owl USB key. Interesting, because while she was placing that order, she was lamenting the downfall of the bricks-and-mortar model of commerce.

I had just shown her the Urban Threads embroidery design website, enthusing about how great it was to find a source for embroidery designs that appeal to me, how neat it was I could get fabric to coordinate with the designs through Spoonflower, how I could even MAKE MY OWN CUSTOM FABRIC PRINTS... And she lamented the loss of jobs held by people who would have sold fabric in a fabric store, or sold CDs of the embroidery design sets in a quilting store, look at how the prices of these designs undercut those of other designers, how could anyone with a bricks-and-mortar store compete?

I was stunned to find myself on the digital side of the argument. I mean, I go to my local video store to rent DVDs, nothing substitutes for a genuine paper page-turner, I buy clothes and toys at department stores, buy embroidery stabilizer and thread and fabric from my friend's business! I even bought my digitizing software in a box, off a shelf.

How to explain that shopping for digital embroidery files is better online, as opposed to digital files printed on a CD off a store shelf? Where do I go for my Wicca, my Flying Spaghetti Monster, my steampunk, my ninjas and skulls? My Norse runes? I can get all the Christmas and Easter designs at the local quilt store, even some token Hanukkah and Passover kitsch, but if I ask for something a little more Lovecraft, and a lot less Love Boat, or even a bit more BACON, the owner will say they can't get it, it's not popular enough, I'm SOL.

The embroidery design is an electronic file. It can be transmitted almost instantly. It doesn't need to be copied from CD to hard drive, to USB key, owl-shaped or not. There is no shortage of electrons, so demand is always met. There is no shortage of shelf space, so even low-demand items can be stocked without penalty. And sometimes, I don't want the whole set, just one or two of the designs in it.

If my senior friend had a textile mill with a print-on-demand model, I would absolutely buy from her instead of ordering online! I have ordered all of 1 metre of fabric online in my life. (Fortune cookie print on blue background. Haven't used it yet, either.) The hoard in my sewing room represents hours and hours of time chatting with friends over a cutting table, inspecting yarn weight, thread count, hand and sizing. But the print with my favourite Mother's Day drawing from my son is never coming to the local quilt store. One person does not a demographic make.

But there wasn't time to discuss all that. My senior friend clicked SEND PAYMENT, ordered the owl USB key, and clucked that her store would go out of business without a trace of irony. Except... I was there, in person, buying sturdy badge fabric from her because I finally had found a creative crafting community that catered to my muse. Online.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Post #2

OK, this is the real thing. I occasionally tell people about the stuff I make, especially because it's for sale. I should do that more often. You know, in the name of marketing, or something. I'd like to say I have been so busy making and selling stuff that it was soooooo easy to lose track of telling people about it, but... Nope. I'm Aquarian. That's my excuse. I can't even figure out Twitter, except that there's this button on Etsy, and it will do the rest for me!

But now I can say: I'm starting to make my own designs!

Come check stuff out.