Warped Up

The placemat and table runner project is coming along nicely:

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I’ve made four. My sums seem to suggest that I have enough yarn to make eight placemats and a skinny runner. I figure I’ll do the placemats first then see how much yarn I have left over.

The collar/scarf is nearly done:

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I won’t know until I finish and start experimenting with the length of fabric whether I’ll attach it to the ruanna or just use it as a very long scarf, or cut it into two shorter scarves. It’s kinda nice to have options.

Stitchy Shirt

At last! Some craft!

This shirt has gone through a few transformations now. It was one of Paul’s shirts. The first refashion saw me taking the sides in, ripping the arms out and reset them as short sleeves, then beaching the whole thing.

But the fabric was a bit heavy for a summer top, especially as it was double thickness at the yoke. I decided to take the sleeves off completely in the summer just past. Before I had a chance to wear it, though, I decided to try some kantha-ish embroidery.

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I was going to stitch all over it, but I found stitching on a single layer of cloth not as easy without a hoop as stitching into the top layer where there were two or more layers. It’s also much easier to deal with thread ends when you can hide them between two layers.

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It was very relaxing. The stitching didn’t have to be perfect. Good tv stitching.

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I like how it has come out. There’s a nice quilted texture to the areas I stitched.

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And I suspect stitching over the whole garment would have taken long enough for it to go from a fun to a tedious project. This was enough.

Books Read in 2014

Okay, so this one’s a little late…

I gave up on trying to get my to-read pile smaller in 2014. Yet I did keep down the book purchasing to a minimum. As for what I read, I was doing okay until mid-year, when deadlines began to loom and I only had text-dealing brain space left for writing, and spare time was spent packing and planning house things.

I consumed:
The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie
Cold Fire Kate Elliot
In Fabula Divinos ed. by Nicole Murphy
The Fall of Ossard Colin Taber
Shadow in the Empire of Light (ms) Jane Routley
Realmshift Alan Baxter
Cold Steel Kate Elliot
At Home Bill Bryson
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor
This is Modern Art Matthew Collings

At the same time I read 3/4 of a friend’s work in progress, which I’m currently rereading in a more polished state.

In the last few years there’s been a shift in fantasy away from the kind that I like, at least in the top sales lists. Australian authors in particular are not being re-signed by publishers now that the local imprints have been replaced by global ones and must satisfy the tastes of bigger markets – most often the US. I’m starting to worry that I should stock up on the paper versions of my favourite authors before they go out of print.

I do like reading ebooks, though. But I like to possess paper copies of my favourite books. In my perfect world I’d read the ebook and then, if I absolutely loved it, I’d order a print-on-demand small hardcover, with a slip cover of my choosing. And everyone would get paid fairly for their work, too.

Twist & Shout

I had this unrefined plan in the back of my mind that when I finished with work I would do a whole lot of gardening. And craft. But gardening most of all.

An hour into the first day, stepping from the paving onto the grass, I rolled my ankle. I heard and felt a snap. When it stopped hurting like hell I managed to get on a chair so I could elevate and ice it. And like a proper modern woman on social media, take a photo:

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The doc at the hospital said something about the x-ray showing no bone damage only ligament tears. I’m not entirely sure, because though I wasn’t in much pain they insisted I take enough pain killers to make me a little high (it doesn’t take much). He was more excited about the heel spurs I have from plantar faciitis, but suggested I ice and elevate it, and see a physio.

A couple of days later it looked like this:

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With a smaller bruise but just as dark bruise on the other side. The physio, my regular, was most impressed. The good news was I could get rid of the crutches and start hobbling around, because moving is better than being stationary. The bad is that I’ve done a good job of it and have probably completely severed a ligament or two and torn the rest.

Permanent damage. Just from walking on grass.

Still, it’s not quite as dramatic as the last gardening accident I had, where I stuck a gardening fork in my foot. That was back in the 90s. That’s one gardening accident every 20 years or so. Not so bad when you think of it that way.

Craft Ennui

Paul and I have a bit of an ongoing discussion about the pronunciation of ‘ennui’. He says it’s supposed to be “on-wee”. I’ve always thought it was “en-you-ai”, and definitely not “en-nu-wee”.

But I really can’t be bothered finding out how it’s supposed to be pronounced.

I’m suffering from craft ennui this week. After three weeks of saving my hands and back for work, only ignoring that to plough through bookmarking craft links and then deleting boards on Pinterest, I’d expected to be diving for the looms and embroidery projects.

Nope.

Paul has had a virus for a couple of weeks. I had food poisoning last week and it’s taken some time to bounce back. This week has been all about catching up with domestic and work stuff. I did repot some plants, though.

Maybe it’s the humidity. Maybe it’s the always intimidating prospect of starting a new book.

Maybe my subconscious knows my body needs a bit more rest before I launch into anything.

The Last Post About Pinterest, I Promise

The last week and a half has been really interesting. And annoying. And frustrating. And ultimately good for me, I hope.

I had no idea how addicted to Pinterest I was.

It was more of a habit than a physical addiction, of course. Though really, the brain is bit like a big chemical factory so everything mental is physical anyway. Pinterest was probably working on my brain as a pleasure-reward feedback loop or something like that. I hate being bored, and the sort of images I got in my ‘feed’ satisfied a need for constant idea-related image stimulation. But the moment that feed was disrupted, Pinterest didn’t satisfy the need any more. My interest in it was switched off instantly. And then I became creeped out by how much I’d been sucked in by it.

I set myself the huge task of saving pins and their links to this blog. That kept me busy during the withdrawal period. I soon realised that it would be faster to simply save a pdf of each board to take screen grabs of later, and then make bookmarks in Safari of the links I wanted to keep. I spend a couple of evenings going through pins during ad breaks to delete anything I wasn’t interested in any more, and check the links. I pared them down quite a bit.

Then later, as I went through the pins again to save the links something strange happened: some of them now brought up spam warnings or linked to unrelated pages. As if the links had been hijacked since I checked them.

Another night I saved a whole lot of bookmarks to Safari on my iPad, only to discover that since the recent update of my desktop computer they aren’t being copied across when the iPad synchs.

I’m really over it all now. It’s tempting to just delete everything in the last few craft-related boards and if I ever want to find a tutorial or product again see if I can find it with a Google Image search.

Ultimately I think this has been good for me. I will miss having something to browse of an evening, but I still have Bloglovin’. Though I am wondering if Bloglovin’ will be the next nifty website to stuff up the user experience by fixing what wasn’t broken.

In the meantime, I’ve finished the edit and can start crafting again. Yay!

The Plan

I’m on the last week of edits so no craft is happening, but at least this Pinterest thing has provided something to blog about this week.

I have a plan coming together. I’m going to:

Off Pinterest
Take screen grabs of the image from pins I’d like to keep
Save the website address from each pin as bookmarks in my browser
Put the tutorials and information sources under pages on this blog
Put inspirational pics in folders on my desktop, as I used to do

On Pinterest
Visit the “Pin” pages of pinners I particularly like following
Continue using the search feature to find interesting things
Keep my writing-related boards

Recently I noticed in StatCounter people are coming to this blog from StumbledUpon and Indulgy. Since that’s how I found Pinterest in the first place, I decided to check them out. StumbledUpon seems to be the “picked for you” bit of Pinterest in overdrive. Indulgy is a visual bookmarking site, as Pinterest was in the beginning, with a similar search feature.

I signed up to the latter. There’s no app for Indulgy, but it seems to work okay in Safari on my iPhone and iPad.

I’ve also been thinking of checking out Flickr as a source of craft inspiration.

Pintarrested

My love for Pinterest just withered away and died, all in a matter of a day or so.

A while pack they started putting “promoted pins” in my feed, which wouldn’t have been too bad if they actually related to what I was interested in seeing. On fasting days I don’t want to see food, so I unfollow the food-related boards of everyone I follow. But I did have a board of recipes and the new feature decided this meant I wanted to see food pins.

So I deleted that board. After clicking “I don’t want to see this” to get rid of some of them, they stopped appearing.

Now “picked for you” pins have suddenly flooded my feed. Almost as many of them as legitimate pins. The quantity is only half the problem, too. I have the same issue with pins appearing that I don’t want to see. Having a board with machine knitting pins in it means I get hand knitting pins. Having a weaving board means I get beginner instructions and pics of those retro wall hanging things that are all the trend on hipster interior design blogs.

And I can’t turn these ones off.

I figured plenty more pinners would be pissed off about this and complain, so maybe in a week or two things would go back to normal or an option to turn off this feature would appear. But when I did a google search, it seems it’s been a problem since at least September 2013. I don’t know why I haven’t had the problem until now, but it seems pretty clear that “pinned for you” is here to stay.

The weird thing is, the pins aren’t ads, and it’s just doubling up on the search feature. It doesn’t make sense why they’d do this.

Anyway, as always when a social media site changes in a way that doesn’t work for me, I’ve been asking myself if I really need it. It took me all of a few hours to realise… no, I don’t need Pinterest. It’s not of benefit to my work. It’s not a way to keep in touch with friends. At the most, for me, it’s a conduit to new ideas and a way to bookmark useful pages on the internet, available on all my devices, home and out.

Which is why I’ve been a big advocate of making sure links are legitimate on pins. If they aren’t, they’re a lot less useful. Some of the “picked for you” pins I investigated didn’t link back to a source, so Pinterest obviously doesn’t value that much any more.

Since Twitter stopped listing tweets chronologically in the feed, which I find too confusing, I’ve not used it much. I only joined Facebook because my friends were there, and I hate it for the same reason. I am so over social media sites fixing what wasn’t broken.

I’m not leaving Pinterest, as there are still ways it can be useful, but I have a few ideas in mind to replace its function as a pinboard of interesting craft and DIY ideas.

Cullbriated

I have an ap called Stickies that puts post-it note like pages on my computer screen. In one I have a list called “Big Cull”. I started it before we moved in the hope I’d get through every category on it and have less stuff to shift. Of course, I didn’t get everything culled in time, so I’ve been revisiting it every time I have the itch to tidy up.

The wardrobe in the craft room has two hanging sections with, for no good reason, have three narrow doors each where two would have been fine. That meant there was a vertical beam for the middle door’s hinges that stood 2/3 the way across the space, always in the way. It ran up through the shelving above the hanging rail, too, so I had to do box tetris to get some things out.

So we turned a pair of the doors for each section into a concertina door by attaching hinges, and removed the beam. The new double door didn’t quite sit flat, partly because I had extra fabric spilling out of the fabric tub and my trims box had become two trims boxes.

Time to tackle the “fabric” category on my Big Cull list.

Oh body, did I chuck out a lot of useless fabric scraps. Turns out that a glass of Pinot Gris is a good primer for culling. I thought it would weaken my resolve. Instead it made me ruthless.

Though thinking about the fabric stash differently helped, too. I have everything in zip-lock bags labelled by type. They include denim, corduroy, felt, velvet, muslin, lining, facing, knit, silk painting scraps, fancy fabric, fake leather, polycotton, cheesecloth, calico and costume scraps. Most are leftovers from projects, though some is fabric from abandoned projects or ones I found a better fabric for, and a few are leftover from my 20-year-old self’s addiction to discount bins.

I decided I’d stick a post-it note on each bag with a possible project/s for the contents. Let’s just say I didn’t use many post-it notes. Lots of small scraps went in the rubbish. Any decent sized piece of fabric that drew a blank had to be pretty special to avoid the op shop pile. A few did. Call me deluded, but I’m still sure I will find a use for stretch fake leather – probably for a costume.

The tub not only closes now, but the fabrics aren’t crammed in. I was so pleased with my culling success I had another glass of Pinot Gris and attacked the trims, getting them to fit into one box.

Fortunately by the time I was done there was no more wine, or it could have got scary.

It’s a bedside table. No, it’s a bookshelf!

It’s inevitable that when you move house there’ll be a couple of pieces of furniture that take a while to find their spot, and new pieces of furniture to buy. We’ve spent so much on fixing up the house and garden that I’m trying to reign in the spending elsewhere, and that includes furniture.

We sold our old bedside tables and matching chests of drawers to the buyer of our old house, and needed to replace the tables. Some of the book shelving at the old place was built in, so we had a couple of boxes of books with no place to go. I hit on the idea of fixing both problems at the same time: bookshelf bedside tables.

Looking at furniture websites, I couldn’t find anything that was both attractive and reasonably priced. I suggested to Paul that we make them ourselves out of the wine boxes sold at the local liquor merchant, as we did with my craft side table and magazine rack.

So Paul did the carpentry and I sanded, painted and varnished. With the addition of a few planks of wood and some feet from Bunnings we had these for less than $200 each:

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They look great filled with books, which will hopefully encourage me to read more:

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Hmm. Books. I haven’t done my “Books Read in 2014″ post yet.