Monday 28 September 2009

Decisions, decisions

Time is flying away from me (for example, today's trousers were purchased in May, but I only finished hemming them yesterday). It was probably over a week ago that I finally decided what to do with the comic- publishing it though a service like Lulu, to get a high quality, full colour book. Obviously, that would be the end product, not the next stage. The next stage would be a really big commitment to drawing it properly, getting the lettering in, inking, etc. In a way, I’d love to be a comic book artist, so it would be fun to make a ‘polished’ comic. But, my drawing skills aren’t up to it at the moment. It would be quite a learning curve to go from where I am now to being able to consistently draw in a classic comic book style. Realistically, I’m not sure if I can focus myself that much. Also, I haven’t been drawing much at the moment, which doesn’t bode well for the amount of drawing the comic will take. It may be a resolution for next year, but I don’t want to set myself up to fail. Committing to finishing the comic would also mean I wouldn’t be able to concentrate my energy on crafting projects. That would make the bus my main crafting time (but I haven’t been doing that much crafting at home recently).

I’ve not reached a decision about participating in the Nanowrimo in November. I don’t honestly think I can write a novel’s worth of prose in a month, but I think it may be interesting to try. I have a lot of trouble with writing, but I have felt good about the short story and comic. So if I did write a novel (even a bad one), I’d feel terrific about it.

As far as crafting goes, my current activity is wrapping thread around rings from juice cartons. I’ve got some ideas about using them in a piece of embroidery for a display next year. Not sure if it will work, and I can’t remember the deadline for the completed piece, but it’s something to play with. Last week I wasn’t organized enough to get any crafting done. And now, I can't decide what tags to put with this post! Oh well, I'll try to think of some for next time.

Friday 11 September 2009

Tribute to Nora Wrightson

I never knew Nora Wrightson, but I have the greatest respect for her as a craftsperson. She had been active in the Manchester branch of the Embroiderers Guild and had served as treasurer (this was well before I joined). But I know she must have been a great stitcher because of her legacy. Nora died recently, and her family have very nicely asked the branch to distribute her crafting supplies and books to people who will make use of them. I’ve benefited greatly from this by getting a copy of Constance Howard’s Book of Stitches. It’s even signed by Constance, who is a justly famous embroiderer. I can feel the inspiration bubbling up!

Monday 7 September 2009

Prototype zippered rag-bag

I never did knit on the bus- I think I’m afraid to wave knitting needles around like that. Instead, I’ve been prototyping a variation on the rag-bag that I got from Tanglecraft. The idea is to sew a zipper to a lining fabric, then put the card frame inside that lining. The warp is stitched through the fabric of the zipper rather than laced over a comb, but the weaving pattern is the same: weave side one, flip, weave side two, flip and repeat.

prototype zipper rag-bag

It took about two weeks to make, and obviously requires some non-bus time to get the sewing done. Here’s the breakdown:

The Good:

  • Smaller size frame is easier to handle without a shed stick. Most of the weaving was done using a hair clip to thread the weft through, then a darning need to fill in the top bits.

  • Used some tiny (like under 3 inches long) bits of blue yarn I had scavenged at the 8th Day knitting club ages ago. I do like how these rag weavings can incorporate tiny bits of colour.

The Bad:

  • The chenille yarn was nice to touch, but doesn’t slide through the warps well. It was tricky near the top, but impossible to use when ‘filling-in’ the bit at the bottom (Perhaps I hadn’t pushed the first rows of weaving down enough, but the warps at the bottom were naked where they went over the edge. I filled it in with the green yarn using a darning needle.)

  • It was nearly impossible to get the card out of the bag when the weaving was finished. I had overestimated how far the zipper unzipped. Even after bending the card, I still caught and snapped the warp thread at the far end. It wasn’t hard to tie back together, but it could be a flaw in the whole process. Or maybe it’s just because I used a chunky zipper.

  • After the problems with getting the card out, I zipped the bag shut and the head of the zipper came off the end! Luckily it aligned and went back on. The zipper also caught the lining fabric. Zippers are tricky.

The Ugly:

  • The un-even edge to the warp threads where they are sewn into the zipper. I tried covering these with a line of un-even chain stitch, and it was an improvement. Future experiments need to be more precise in stitching the warp.

  • I think, though I’m not certain, that I strung the warp wrong. Using the comb loom, the pattern of warping only works one way, so the sides match up. I think with sewing in the zipper as the top of the loom, I started or stopped on the wrong side. This may have made the side edges a bit looser than they ought to be. Again, future experiments with more precise warping should clarify how it would work best. (Meaning, I just need to pay more attention to what I’m doing. Mindfulness.)

  • The ends of the zipper stick out at the top, and the weft doesn’t cover them. I added some stitching when it was off the frame, but it looks rough. Zippers are tricky.

That’s a lot of bad and ugly, but it was a good prototyping exercise. I know the idea works, it’s just a question of refining it.

Truth is, I don’t need a coin purse- I’m perfectly happy with the wallet I’ve had for the last 10 years. But I’m interested in trying to make a pencil case, or maybe a bag for an odd shaped object, like a ukulele. It’s a case of curiosity rather than necessity.

Also, to make my blog more usable, I’m going to try to tag entries now. Hopefully each entry tagged as a prototype will be followed up by a beta, then finally with a set of full instructions. It’s a plan.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Happy Blog-birthday to me!

Please, and yes, proud, that I have been keeping this blog for a year now. I’ve just read over what I’ve posted in the last year. I feel like I haven’t done much. Does that mean I set my sights too high? One of the reasons for the blog is to track my ‘working speed’, just so I can know what I can expect of myself. I really don’t want my hobbies to feel like hard work.

I’m disappointed in myself for not making the great gift for P, and I’m disappointed that I haven’t finished that quilt. (Though with the weather getting cold again, it may be nice to work on the quilt more.) I’m also a bit annoyed that I haven’t completed the clanger.

I’m really pleased by the wool-ball bears and Otis Redherring. The weaving (my current craft is another weaving) has been nice, and I’m fairly happy with the crochet. Though I feel like the writing and comic projects are only half-way there, I’m happy about the half that’s done.

There’s so many things to do, so much fun to be had; and I’m easily overwhelmed by it all, unable to decide what to do with myself. I think the blog will help with this, but it will be a long process.