April 2019 Recap

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Like last month, I’ve done some prototype work this April. For a while I’ve wondered about using felt as interfacing in various projects. We’ve already been using my two placemat prototypes for over six months; they seem to be holding well.

This time I started a purse. Here are the fabrics during the color test / fabric selection phase:

Purse Prototype Fabrics

I had two golden ribbons to choose between; if you look carefully, the one on the right has tone-on-tone striping. In the end, I decided on the plainer ribbon. I may have regrets, though…

A major roadblock for this project has been an 8-point applique star. I started that already in March by making a pattern. As this was to be a prototype, I wanted to use up some scraps from my remnants bin. In hindsight that wasn’t a very good decision; I had an inordinate amount of trouble with the star, since I foolishly selected two very slippery, knit-based fabrics: crushed velvet and faux chamois.

I did finish the star eventually, after much cursing and procrastination.

Applique Star WiP Pieced

Now I just can’t decide whether it’s good enough to apply on the purse. I guess that means not.

Well. You win some, you lose some. That’s just the nature of the creative process.

But: Having finished my taxes earlier than usual, I also had ample time to rearrange my workroom. That invariably meant flinging the smaller bookcases around. In addition, I took the opportunity to death clean some of my possessions, and all that lead to restyling my shelves. I made a curtain to hide some of the less than handsome binders and folders:

Bookcase Curtain Finished

The rest of the shelves aren’t quite there yet, but the curtain is looking great, don’t you think? 🙂

Since I moved my desk, my office phone handset was displaced. I made it a tiny end table out of two upcycled oatmeal containers, posterboard and a round tablecloth:

DIY Phone Table Finished

Here’s a secret: the tablecloth is actually one of my SCA veils, naturally well-washed and pressed. (SCA here means Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., i.e., a group of medieval re-enactors.)

In early April, we finally lost the last of the snow and got to enjoy the first leaf buds and flowers, albeit a little late. Spring is my favorite time of the year! 🙂

2019 First Dandelions2

Flowering Pear First Flower

We continue to experiment with new foods due to dietary restrictions. Here’s a dessert that happened to be all vegan: poached pears, roasted & salted cashews and almondmilk vanilla ice cream.

Poached Pears w Pecans

Will I sound too childish if I say OM NOM NOM!?! 🙂

And, of course, at the end of the month we saw Avengers: Endgame. I’m still mulling it over, but it definitely is a one-of-a-kind ending to a one-of-a-kind series of independent but interlinked movies.

March 2019 Recap

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Since finishing my tax paperwork early (yay!) I’ve spent a lot of March working on various prototypes.

For one, after searching for an 8-point star pattern in vain, I tried making one myself. Getting the proportions how I wanted while retaining the symmetry turned out to be more challenging than I thought.

8-Point Star5

While this particular project is still ongoing, I also started on a storage bag one. I’ve got one potentially usable detail down and am still working on the rest. In contrast to previous years when I was still doing battle with paperwork at this time, it’s been lovely to be able to sew!

Inspired by Nikki’s tutorial at Tikkido, I made two bookmarks as gifts: a unicorn and a lobster. The images I found with an online search. The unicorn’s tail is made from cotton yarn and floss, the lobster’s antennae from wool yarn.

DIY Bookmark Unicorn

DIY Bookmark Lobster in Book

I don’t own a laminating machine, so I used a couple of layers of clear packing tape.

March started with an odd stop in the progress of spring. February had seemed to bring us an early spring with fine weather, but then we got several dumps of snow in succession. The last big one came on March 10th, and seems indeed to have been the last one.

Hopefully Last Snowfall

Husband and I took a short spring break trip to southern Ohio to see friends. I loved how much further along spring was there!

Spring Flowers in S Ohio

Unfortunately, I also got sick during the trip and have spent ten days (and counting) nursing a very stubborn cold.

Sick in Munchkin Terms

I hope that’ll be it for the rest of the year. At least it gave me the chance to read.

How was your March?

February 2019 Recap

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This February had loads of paperwork, as usual. Fortunately for me, Valentine’s Day came right after I finished my taxes. Time for yummy loot!

Discounted Valentines Chocolates

We usually buy Valentine’s Day candy only after it has gone on sale, so, perfect timing.

What differs from previous years is that I got my tax stuff figured out by mid-month. I’m very pleased by the achievement and have made copious notes to make the process as fast in the future. (I hope!)

Weatherwise, this February was oddly low-snow. We did get a number snowfalls, but they were relatively few and far between. In the very beginning of the month, we had a load of light, fluffy snow, with sun and high winds the following day. The powdery snow fell off the trees in huge, gorgeous, transparent curtains, almost like mist.

Powder Snow Falling off Trees

My photo doesn’t do it justice at all; it was magnificent!

Towards the mid-month, we had another layer. Afterwards, in the wee hours of the morning, the neighborhood turkeys apparently had places to be:

Turkey Track Central

So many different paths all over! There’s also at least one set of fox tracks there. And speaking of foxes, one Saturday, a bright and glorious morning, one came round to check around the bird feeder in our neighbor’s back yard.

Fox at Bird Feeder

It seems that spring is early this year – and you get no complaints from me. Although I could do with less pollen this early in the year…

Sadly, the latter half of February brought two deaths in Husband’s extended family, which cast a pall on otherwise sunny days.

I hope your year is still off to a good start.

January 2019 Recap

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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! 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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.