January 2019 Recap

Ahem Ahem!

One of the new things I started at the beginning of 2018 is a month-end recap, a sort of newsletter light. Now I’ve completed the cycle with the first recap for 2019. Yay! πŸ™‚

Speaking of cycles, tax time is rolling around again. I’ve been bogged down with tax prep more than usual at this time of the year.

2018 Jan Tax Work

Unfortunately, Etsy changed the way they bill and pay their sellers at the end of last year. The new system has had some glitches which have increased my bookkeeping workload significantly. I can’t wait to be done with the 2018 number crunching and get onto the tax forms themselves because it’ll feel so much easier – something I never, ever, thought I’d say!

Just past mid-January there was a snowstorm, the first snowfall for the year. Then a front of warm weather with rain pushed through and melted almost all of the snow. It was very pretty for all of four days!

One night right after the snow, we had someone scamper across our yard.

Tracks on Snow from Above

There’s a funny gap in the tracks (in the middle of the photo), though, which makes me wonder whether it might be a sign of a fox jumping to try and catch a critter under the snow. Like in the gif below (but probably much less showy).

Giphy BBC Earth Fox Jump

BBC Earth, via Giphy.

I had a small but very satisfying reading pile this month:

Library Reading Pile Jan 2019

From left to right, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by my favorite living author Nora Jemisin, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming. I also read Ariah by R.B. Sanders and Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang. I’m looking forward to the last two Murderbot novellas, too, which I got as Christmas present. Yay, so many great reads!

On the screen, Husband and I were introduced to the tv series Modern Family by a friend. It’s a mocumentary of three generations of a Californian family. We’re bingeing through the seasons and have gotten up to seven, and are still enjoying it.

My goodness, I never would’ve thought that I’d find a mainstream (i.e., non-genre) family drama interesting, but I do. πŸ™‚ Shows you what production values can do – specificially in this case, attention to quality character-writing and episode structure.

Now that I’ve written a full year’s worth of recap posts, it’s time to reassess. Even though it felt difficult at times, I certainly learned a lot and found that I do like an end-of-the-month look back.

I’m inclined to continue these newsletters, but I might dink around with the topics or proportions. Would you like to read more about something or maybe less about something else? Please let me know!

A Sleep Mask Prototype

Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

One of the results of a recent prototype making session:

Critter Sleep Mask

A sleepy critter sleep mask. Brown felt with felt applique and embroidery; lined with a soft linen blend fabric for comfort. This is my very first attempt at this particular design, and I’m pretty pleased with the proportions and the expression.

I was trying for a bear – how did I do?

First Batch of Reflectors Is Now on Etsy

Ahem Ahem!, Arts & Crafts, Leveling Up

The first batch of reflectors is now listed in my Etsy shop.

1st Batch of Reflectors

These 2-sided personal safety reflectors are meant for pedestrians. They are designed to attach inside a coat pocket and to hang down at your side when in use. The reflectors come with a safety pin and string for hanging. Like so:

Reflectors in Use Not in Use

The concept is based on the reflectors I wore in my childhood, growing up 2 hours south of the Arctic Circle in Finland. In fact, I still use them – even though Massachusetts isn’t nearly as dark as Finland in winter, here in the south it gets dark year-round. The reflectors increase your visibility so much in low light conditions that I almost feel naked without one. Each of my jackets has its own dedicated reflector, and I keep extras around just in case. (They do occasionally break or get lost.)

Made with polyester felt and reflecting fabric in three silhouettes: heart, minimalistic feather or dragon’s head. Each of the three designs comes in two or three different colors.

Dragons Head Reflector Colors Collage
Feather Reflector Colors Collage
Heart Reflector Colors Collage

Check out Flickr and Twitter for some work-in-progress photos.

It’s exciting to get a new project out into the world! πŸ™‚

A Feathery Sneak Peak

Arts & Crafts, Behind the Scenes, Colors

…of my current project:

Turq Feathers Partly Done

I’m making reflectors; this batch is based on my feather doodles. I’ve already done turquoise and white feather reflectors. I’m still trying to decide whether I’ll make other colors. Any input?

P.S. Other behind-the-scenes photos connected to this project are included in my Flickr (July 2016).

Adding to My Textile Vocabulary

Fabrics & Materials, Leveling Up

Because I trained back home in Finland, I learned my sewing terminology in Finnish. Already before I moved to the U.S., I picked up a lot of English vocabulary from my hobby sewing. My favorites were earlier historical eras, though, which resulted in a curious melange of terms and terminology.

Nowadays whenever I make construction notes on my projects they usually end up a mix of Finnish and English terms and abbreviations, even though I try to stick with one language only.

Terminology Resources

To keep adding to my English vocabulary, I draw from both physical and online resources. I read guidebooks and keep binders where I file tearaways and printouts. I’ve also started bookmarking online resources.

Below are some sites I’ve found useful for learning the terminology for various aspects of textile work.

Do you have favorites you’d like to add?

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Cross-Body Bags: Prototypes and Two OOAKs

Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Leveling Up

My book bag project inspired me to try sewing cross-body bags. As usual, the first step is making prototypes to try out different fabrics and proportions. It only took two tries – the photo below shows my second attempt – to find something both pleasing and functional.

It must mean I’ve gained more experience points. Lovely!

I also made two one-of-a-kinds to sell. They’re both made with lightweight cotton duck (canvas) off the bolt and have accents pieced together from various quilting cottons; inside there’s a pocket.

 

I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. Perfect for rainbow lovers, from the reading kind to the parade kind and everything inbetween. πŸ™‚

The wide accent stripes in a rainbow of colors were inspired by how a spectrograph disperses white light into color spectra (and originally made waaay back). The burgundy red bag has 18 colors, the navy 17 in the accent stripe. As usual, there’s more photos on Flickr.

Behind the Scenes: Some Small Photo Props

Arts & Crafts, Behind the Scenes, Fabrics & Materials, My Spaces

I’m prepping to list another bunch of products in my Etsy store. My office / workroom looks like some kind of weird small item bomb went off, leaving photo prop shrapnel behind. My favorite is perhaps the toothbrush in the middle of the table.Small Photo Props

Also, as you can see on the left side – the sun is shining! Yay! I’ve felt so sun-deprived this winter, it’s a relief that spring is finally here.

Colors: The Story of the PGH Logo

Behind the Scenes, Colors, Design & Designers

I was asked what the Playfully Grownup logo is and where it comes from. I’ll give you two answers: a short and a long one.

Short answer:

I created it on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. It’s meant to evoke a window or a house and to appear in multiples with a rainbow-like effect rippling through the squares. The different colors refer to inclusiveness and human diversity, both physically, mentally and culturally.

Long answer:

I created the logo on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. When I was brainstorming the logo, I looked at everything I could think of. For a while, I was working on a pattern I got from photographing a print fabric, cropping a section and re-coloring it in various ways. In the end I wasn’t very taken with it, so out it went. Not to mention the potential copyright issues – this fabric was still in production a year or two ago, and even if my usage might be considered de minimis *and* transformational, it was a can of worms I didn’t want to open.

I was also inspired to look at my old textile history files. I got into textile history originally through the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) and live action role-play (LARPing), but I also chose topics related to textile history in my formal studies. One of my minors at the university was Finnish and comparative ethnology. In addition to barn type distributions, oven types vis-a-vis food traditions, wooing customs, informant interview techniques and whatnot, I read on Finnish folk costumes and traditional Finnish hand sewing techniques and materials. (Come to think of it, so much of my textile history reading was outside school. I really should have been smarter and found a way to get credit for it!)

There was a pattern book I was particularly interested in and used a lot. I *think* it’s Theodor Schvindt’s book Ompelu- ja nauhakoristeita (publ. Helsinki SKS, 1992). Unfortunately, my notes and the copies I made from the book got separated, so I can’t be sure anymore. In any case, I copied a few of the patterns into .bmp files. (Quaint, eh? πŸ™‚ ) Here’s one of the images I painstakingly created:

Kuvio2 w Arrow

Some Finnish folk embroidery patterns. The red arrow points to the section I used as the basis for my business logo.

The image has several snippets of embroidery patterns. I believe most came from apron hems or hand towel endblocks or similar flat textiles. I mostly copied just enough to see how the pattern elements repeat; the full patterns / textiles were quite magnificent. In this image, the pattern on upper left caught my eye, especially the center of the rightmost motif. (I’ve blown it up and circled the motif center in the image.) I grabbed that section only…

SquarePNG…and started playing around with it. Here’s a collage of just some of the intermediate stages in the development process:

Logo Development Collage

1. Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section. 2. Copying the original design as a tile. 3. Making a panel with two rows of the original design and experimenting with different colors.

Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section didn’t pan out – see (1) in the image above. Copying the original design as a tile (2) looked more promising. Nothing really grabbed me, however, until I made a panel with two rows of the original design (3). That created a whole new focal point, the β€œwindow”, and I decided to use that as the basic building block for my logo. Then it was just a matter of experimenting with different colors and repeats. At one point I even played around with adding a “roof”, but that idea didn’t live long.

For my business card, I made a few rows of blocks for the top and bottom:

Business Cards 1st BatchI initially had the same design on this website, but I found it visually too heavy. Only one row of blocks looks much better.

The logo block is also less effective singly than as a panel. I think it still works just fine because two colors are more interesting than one. Below is the banner for my Etsy store’s front page:

PGH Etsy Banner 100x760

I picked the blue block as the default stand-alone doohickey, since greyish blue is my favorite color. I’ve also started to use the stand-alone block for reserving my Etsy items when I get a request:

Reserved Listing Purple

The logo is really meant to appear in multiples, however, with a rainbow effect rippling through the squares:

Thin Banner 1102x350I chose the rainbow-like effect because I like having color around. For me, colors are an aspect of happiness, and increasing my happiness was one reason for starting this business. I was also thinking of inclusiveness. It’s staggering how diverse both physically, mentally and culturally humans are. While I’m not interested in everything we humans do, I find such variety amazing. Finally, it’s also a subtle nod towards the gay pride rainbow flag. (I am not gay, but I am an ally. As a geek who has received her fair share of prejudice and dismissal for my β€œweird” interests, I will not intentionally inflict the same kind of pain on others.)

I also quite like how the different colors change from one block to another roughly through the color spectrum with the possibility of endless repeat. No individual block is monotone, just like people are rarely reducible into one stereotype.

The β€œwindow” logo fit my business idea (home textiles) particularly well, I thought. However, I was a little concerned over potential Microsoft Windows logo infringement accusations. (If you look at my initial color experiments in the development image, the resemblance is stronger.) It was definitely a consideration in creating the final form of the logo and why in the end I chose two-colored logo blocks for single appearances and the rainbow-like effect for multiples.

Many of the choices I’ve made are highly personal preferences. I’m under no delusion that my creation holds universal appeal. The logo works hand-in-hand with my business idea and visual taste, however, and that is quite enough for the moment. Also, it’s the first time I’ve designed a logo. It was a fascinating process, and almost as satisfying as creating something tangible. πŸ™‚