Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014, the Year of "CREATE"

At New Year's in 2012, I felt drawn to use the word "DANCE" as my theme for the year. When January 2013 rolled around, I chose the word "FOCUS" with some measure of nervousness about what that might mean.

New Year's Eve, 12/31/2013 -- I suddenly knew exactly my theme for 2014 = CREATE.

I'm certain that *Create* will mean many things throughout 2014. But one application comes to mind first: MAKE THINGS. I love to make things. I love to see colors and ingredients coalesce into something new just because I put my hands to them.

Right before the holiday weeks wrapped up, I managed to finish one commission languishing on my workbench and prep some new floral hair clips as Christmas Gifts for my family. Yesterday, New Year's Day, I went back to the workbench and finished some additional commissions waiting for my attention.

My niece not only snatched this up for Christmas,
but had the chance to wear it to a wedding several days later
I cannot show you photos of the commissions created on January 1 because they haven't been seen by the recipient yet. *grin*

But here's my posts from Twitter, summing up the #CREATE experience on days 1 and 2.
  • -- #CREATE day1: Fixed 1, Created 4 floral hair clips. Supplementary: Uploaded 3 sets of floral hair clip photos from Dec & day1 #crafty 
  • -- #CREATE day2: Create 4 small hair clip bases; Spun wool on my drop spindle. Supplementary: Backed up 1K+ media files; processed 19 videos
I've found myself making the distinction between actually creating new things versus some of the supportive tasks around my crafty and creative projects. Just thinking about the flowers I finished in December made me want to upload the photos. Thinking about the flowers I finished on New Year's Day made me want to process those photos, too. This morning, I set my personal computer to backup everything on my personal phone while I diligently worked on my work computer. Backing up the photos helped me find (and remember!) the videos on my phone, which then I had to figure out how to import to my iPod and then troubleshoot when they wouldn't import properly. (Turns out there's a new step in iTunes for creating the iPod version of the file, but I digress.)

Over my lunch break, I hand-sewed several small flower clip bases. And while enjoying dinner with my sister and a close friend, I was able to relax and *create* more wool yarn on my drop spindle. Even now, as I write this post, there are eight videos left that need to convert before I can finish syncing my iPod. I now have an hour's worth of material broken down into 1-5 minute snippets that I can review and study when I'm away from my computer. I just love some of those management tasks that support my creativity!

I have no guarantee I will actually manage to *create* something every day of the year. But it is definitely a focus for me, and I hope to be able to share some of that success with you here. I hope that we can share inspirations with one another.

What do you see happening in your 2014?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Little Crafts Here and There

Part of my experience for 2012 included selecting a "theme word" to motivate and excite me for the year. It replaced the notion of a New Year's Resolution, and yet it still had some of the impact that Resolutions often do. In 2012, I selected DANCE as my theme word, and it was a very successful theme. I started my advanced classes in January 2012, and ramped up my skills and techniques through my regular dance schedule and "Summer Camp" for 10-Saturdays over the summer.

This year, the word FOCUS has become my major theme: Focusing on what matters most; focusing on primary passions and pursuits; reducing clutter to focus my possessions; hand-selecting which crafts I should truly focus on over the year.

Now, most evenings I jot down some quick notes on how I had some success with my primary focus activities. I've narrowed the categories in my life to Family, Dance/Fitness, and Crafts, with some subcategories that relate to these three major pursuits. Last week, in an effort to do something crafty and yet support pursuits in fitness, I sewed a little bag quickly one evening.

Little Bag
The fabric was scrap material left over from sewing part of the Boyo's Halloween costume, a nice linen/rayon blend. It's hard to tell in this photo, but the button is a perlescent green that I found in my spare buttons basket.

Three stretch bands, to remind myself to keep limber and gain strength
Total time to complete bag: approximately 45 minutes

My exercise stretch-bands live in this bag now, and the bag lives in my laptop backpack where I keep the power cord. This reminds me to stretch and work my arms and shoulders, every time I setup and put away my laptop. For someone who works on computers all day, this is quite important!

My crafty to-do list is quite long, but it pleases me greatly to sometimes do the small, simple crafts to make me feel successful and inspired.

Do you have little tasks you could be working on? Something quick to complete and add to the "Finished Objects" list?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping Up a Crafty Year

Wrapping Up a Crafty Year

I sat down to post a collection of images and thoughts but I found a draft post in my blog folder. So, a short digression first.

Some Small Project Details

I made a small purse with an across-the-shoulder strap, quite some time ago, that I wear every day at work to carry my iPod and a small wallet/coinpurse. It is the smallest module of "My Purse" when I just need to quickly go somewhere. It's really more like a large wallet than a small purse. The lining finally wore out so I just ripped and cut it and threw it away.

But ever since I made the bag, the shoulder strap was braided from yarn that was too thin, so the strap always cut into my shoulder. And because it was too thin, it also wore out too quickly. The thin braid would snap, I would tie it back together, and the strap got shorter and shorter and shorter.

At my last week of work in the office, it snapped again and it was too short to wear comfortably "at my hip" (now realistically, it was riding almost at my elbow). I'd been meaning to rebraid some chunky (softer) yarns, but I'd been brainstorming about the main problem for some time: yarn wears out and the straps break. I purchased some coated wire that people use to hang frames on the wall, intending to run the wire down the center of a four-strand braid.

The whole purse First shot of the new strap, showing the steel core

The first picture I posted on twitter didn't really show off the tricks of this fix, and I thought some of you might appreciate the details.
Close-up of the 4-strand spiral braided strap.
I also love the embroidery I did on the original purse.

A Look at the Past Year

As I flipped through the photos from 2012, I had to smile at all the things I've worked on this year.

I continued to make floral hair clips for the Dance Haflas.

Hafla Preparation in March 2012 Hafla in August 2012

Hafla in November 2012
I completed several floral commissions.

Commissions for a performer at Renn Faire Commission for a Set of Bridesmaids
I created business cards for my Store and my crafty items.

Large business cards Small business cards
I learned a new skill (inkle weaving)....

First two pieces, for me and my Sweetie
A new skill which sort of snowballed for a while...

 A few highlights from my weaving in October and November
And then started painting for the holidays....

Images from hand-painted stationery, gifts to family
All in all, I would call this a successful year.

I hope you all have a very successful 2013. Happy New Year's!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Painting for the Holidays

My latest crafty project idea hit me while I was driving one evening: Hand-painted stationery cards, inspired by henna designs. I love getting henna or "glitter tattoos" applied at some of our dance events, and I could easily picture making blank cards with henna designs.

From the first set of cards

The second evening, I imagined the cards embellished with bits of glitter.

Embellished with gold glitter

 Then I imagined the cards painted in other colors besides brown (the color of henna designs on the skin).

The second sets of cards

The glitter accents looked good on color, too.

Only one card per set included glitter highlights

All in all, I created four sets of four cards each, one for my Mom, my sister, and for each of my nieces.

Two sets were painted in traditional henna colors

Two sets were painted in non-traditional henna colors

These have all been given away as gifts. But I plan to offer similar sets of cards in the etsy store in 2013.

I hope you all had lovely holidays. See you in the new year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inkle, inkle, tabby-weave inkle!

I started weaving narrow-wares with Card-weaving. And my first addiction to card-weaving was the Rams' Horn pattern. I could not get enough time on my loom... it made me SO happy. I finished several rams' horn patterned pieces and even taught a 2-hour workshop on my weaving method (now affectionately called "Gypsy Eyeball").
The beginning of my love form Rams' Horn card-weaving
So my dear friend of mine has a trait similar to me: A love for sampling different craft skills, one after another. Not every craft we've put our hands to has become an addiction. As she was experimenting with inkle looms and weaving, a friend of hers saw her weaving, went to her father who built and sold inkle looms, and procured a loom as a gift. By this time, my friend had moved beyond weaving to some other craft skills, but of course, the loom was so beautiful, she happily accepted the gift. A very LARGE gift. A very large gift that sat gathering some measure of dust, waiting to be used.

Enter my social media interaction and our participation in a Fiber Arts community. We were both at the same retreat, and during the raffle I did *NOT* win the large floor inkle loom. My friend noticed my disappointment and knew immediately she'd been fostering that loom on my behalf. She explained to me that she wanted me to inherit the loom from her, and several months later when I hadn't yet visited, she found the occasion to bring the loom to me. (Of course, I still owe her the social visit! Coffee! Chatting! Scritching the kitties!)

The first day I had the loom, I simply *HAD* to learn how to use it. I'd heard over the years that weaving simply Tabby-Weave bands and ribbons was MUCH easier and faster than card-weaving, but I'd never put my hand to it yet. I'd also heard that you could create "continuous heddles" rather than hand-cutting and tying each heddle individually. So I made up a system, warped up my loom with random embroidery floss skeins, and set to weaving.

First warp
-- Achievement Unlocked! (10/7)
Second warp
-- warped by sunset and firelight, woven in the dark by firelight, drums, music, and dancing (10/8)
Close-up second warp
-- approximately three yards, woven in the dark (10/8)

Finished first two warps
-- "Sunrise, Sunset" for me, "Midnight, Twilight" for Sweetie #weaving (10/11)
Having completely caught the bug for weaving on the inkle loom for fast, production weaving, two looms now live in my car and travel with me. The card-weaving project still lives on my front seat, but I can fit this new *gigantor* loom in my back seat, too. Anywhere I go, I can weave.

I'm preparing now for a post-Thanksgiving sales event, trying to weave as much product for my booth as possible. I'm also learning how to experiment with simple tabby patterns. I'm not completely secure in planning the patterns on the fly, but I'm getting better with each piece.

So, please enjoy the photos I've taken for the past week. I know I'm enjoying them.
-- weaving, and I can see the end in sight.
#crafty (11/13)
-- playing with crayons,
to plan for weaving ideas #crafty (11/14)
-- arrive at work early, warp a loom on your trunk.
Everyone does this, right? #crafty (11/15)
-- New warp is ready to weave
#crafty (11/15)

-- Pattern emerges
#weaving (11/15)
-- Warp, contrasted with
woven inkle. #weaving (11/16)

-- Dude! I can make things!
From threads! #crafty #weaving (11/18)
-- so, yes, I love weaving.
#crafty (11/18)

-- warp colors picked by Sweetie,
pattern created by me
#crafty #weaving (11/18)
-- the pattern I created is growing on me...
Not an instant hit.
But getting better. #weaving (11/18)

-- definitely like this better than
when I first started. #weaving (11/18)
-- About half done
#weaving (11/19)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gathering input for my curiousity

I am curious: Do any of you follow podcasts? video blogs? Do you ever click through to watch video snippets or listen to sound clips on blogs?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday Hand-Stitching

This weekend I packed up my "current projects" sewing basket, a box full of linen, and some handbags of sewing notions and hauled them out for sorting, labeling, and prioritizing. My sewing corner is now dusted and ready for work with stacks of projects waiting for me.

Prioritizing had the most effect on me: What I wanted to work on was not necessarily what I needed to work on first. The oldest "need now" projects were actually my finger cymbals (called "zills"). I would never have guessed that, but in honest reflection, they'd been on hold the longest.

(click a photo to enlarge)

Two of the three sets, ready again for class
The zills you see in the center of the photo are the oldest set in my kit. I've been using these since my college days, some well loved Turkish Saroyan cymbals.They've been good to me, but the elastic was at least two years old and getting worn. The orange crocheted mufflers, "zuffs," were also getting a little bit worn. So I replaced the elastic and reinforced the zuffs. I also stitched some contrasting thread on the elastics to identify Right versus Left, Thumb versus Finger. You can just barely see some orange stitching on the Right zills and burgundy stitching on the Left zills. The finger zills have a spot of color on the top of the elastic, and the thumbs have a "T" stitched on the underside center.

The new SHINY set in the foreground of my Turquoise International, size B Turkish, 2 1/2" cymbals. New, new, new! *grin* These needed their first set of elastics so I marked them the same way I marked my old Turkish zills, and I reinforced the zuffs before even using them.

We use the zuffs when we need to practice zilling without making a lot of noise. Some of our housemates work at 5 am so, to get out the door by 4 am, they need to go to sleep by 8 pm. Our advanced class runs from 8-9:30 pm, so we need to muffle our zills in the evening. It's also really helpful to muffle them when practicing at home, out and about, wherever you need to save the sanity of other people but still practice all the technical work of zilling while dancing. My roomie's mom lives next door (convenient!) and she makes these zuffs and the zill bags for sale, in a wide plethora of colors. You can see my color preference. *grin*

Finally, I had a Twisted Gypsy patch for ages and no idea what I wanted to sew it on. So I decided to add the patch to one of my zill bags. The other zill bag features a rough embroidered attempt at the Gypsy Sisters logo, since we don't have patches yet. Now I have a new heavy set for my performances and my old set to loan to my fellow dancers in classes when they forget theirs or maybe they don't have zuffs. Later, I need to add the elastics to my smaller Turquoise cymbals (they might be size A), which I'll sew for tiny fingers. I have much larger fingers than some of my fellow dancers, so I cannot loan them my normal cymbals in class. I have a smaller set just for loaning to someone with tiny fingers. But that set of cymbals did not make the priority list... I'll work on those later.

And just for fun, here's a great image of Sydney and I (as Gypsy Sisters) dancing at the Secret Garden (Moorpark) at the Into It Tribal Nights August 30 showcase.
Photo by Roger Hendrix (Depictions by Roger)

P.S. You can buy your own got zills? bumper sticker from Faizeh on Cafepress.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Headed into the Fall Season

This summer (strike that) year has been filled with dance, dance, and more dance, with bits of work and computers and crafts thrown into the cracks between all those blocks of dance. Several times, I found the photos from these events brought me some smiles and laughs.

In June, the student troupe (with a couple of members from the professional troupe) performed at a Food Trucks event in North Hollywood.

(click any image to view it larger)

One comparison photo: Me as an advanced dancer after 2+ years work versus me as a beginner, the first time I ever danced ATS in public, after 6 months study. *grin* --> that jacket is already pinned even smaller, now in September.
In July, the student troupe and the professional troupes both performed at a Farmer's Market festival in Santa Clarita.

Another mark of having improved over the past couple of years.
I still laugh every time I see the old photos from Emle's in Dec 2010.

In August, we held a hafla (party) at the end of the student session at Pasadena City College. I had a modest store setup for my flowered hair clips.

Flowered hair clips for sale
Many of the clips shown here are already sold. I'm working to add photos and listings to my etsy store for the ones that are still available.

But one of the most exciting accomplishments for my summer has to be my new logo and business cards. Major thanks go out to Katy, the artist I hired to work on my logo, who created exactly what I was looking for. You can see her work on her Facebook page.

The Grand Logo of Awesome!
We had so much fun, creating every line, every curve, every feather, every shape in the tribal swan for my business look. It's everything I could hope to have!

After that, of course I had tons of fun creating business cards (all done at which I can heartily recommend).

the large business cards: complete with rounded corners

the small business cards: so cute, so memorable
Part of the effort to work on my cards stemmed from a motivation to have more product in my store by the end of the year. I've decided to focus on promoting three major lines: custom floral hair clips, hand-spun yarns, and hand-made card-woven trim. I may branch into tabby warp-faced narrow wares (think "ribbons" made in various yarns and threads, or the phrase "inkle woven" trim*). But since that's still an untried skill of mine, that's just a possible plan.

This past weekend, I taught a new card-weaving class at the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Frolic. Although I originally called the class "Rams' Horn, Eilidh Style," my friends have suggested it should be renamed "Gypsy Eyeball" based on how often they heard me saying "eyeball" as I was teaching. In fact, several people wandered over just to see what we were weaving, since I continued to describe the "gypsy eyeball" as the mathematical key to understanding the rams' horn threaded pattern in our card-weaving warps.

Gypsy Eyeballs on the Right and then Left, followed by Rams' Horns
The Gypsy Eyeball solution to understanding Rams' Horn was slated to only take an hour, but fortunately none of my students had anywhere to run off to at 11am. We stayed for the full 2 hours, working hands-on with two different warped examples, learning how to find the key to each warp and how to weave anything without a pattern book. As a two-hour workshop, it worked wonderfully and several people have asked me to teach the class again. I'm quite pleased with the results.

I'd like to create a series of youtube video clips that cover the topics in my Gypsy Eyeball class technique. Maybe those will be projects for 2013.

After class, I sat down to take advantage of an afternoon with an empty loom and a basket full of warping threads. Ercil took a fantastic photo of my glee.

The warp I decided on was made up from the Brick Red, Bright Orange, and Chocolate Brown cones
that you can see between my leg and the basket.
The new brick, orange, and chocolate warp is on the cards and waiting to weave later. I still have to finish the "King's Hunt Footprints" pattern (pictured above in black, orange, red, maroon, yellow, and purple) and then some Christmas gift promissories for my Sweetie. (I might need more than one loom *grin*)

I haven't forgotten my spinning and I have some additional weaving plans mulling in my head, too.

some luxury fibers spun on a new drop spindle

hand-spun wool, hand-plied, naturally dyed in cochineal and indigo-over-dyeing, self-striping skein, tabby weave
I'm not really happy weaving on a potholder loom (it was a good try),
but I think I'll felt the finished swatch and create an embroidered, felted pouch for my etsy store.
In addition to all this, I changed jobs in June and now work less than two dozen miles from home. The reduced commute time significantly helps with my increased dance and crafting schedule (as well as time to spend with family, friends, and my Sweetie). I still sit in some horrible LA commuter traffic, but not nearly as much as the four-hour commute of my last job. The team I work with is also AMAZING, and I'm doing technical writing in yet another software developer niche that I haven't worked in before. I miss the time I spent at JPL (and was *SO* proud of the Curiosity Team), but I love my new job a lot. It's located in a bustling neighborhood with plenty of stores and restaurants in walking distance. I have so many opportunities to walk and exercise, more than almost any previous job I've held. Occasionally, just to relax and start my day off right, I just take out my cardweaving loom and sit for twenty minutes before heading up to the office, weaving quietly at my car. There is nothing quite so calming after a cross-city traffic snarl as twenty minutes weaving (or knitting or spinning or crocheting or whatever is your artistic endeavor of choice). Ahh.

Finishing the warp at the Fiber Retreat, relaxing and enjoying 
Looking forward to what the Fall Season will bring.

* Postscript footnote - Did you know the word "inkle" just means narrow, woven band? Without getting into the historical controversies of the "inkle loom" or "inkle" bands, I learned some interesting information at dinner the other day, and I'm looking forward to understanding the history better so I can promote credible research rather than muddled jargon. My thanks to Ercil, for getting me thinking along these lines. I have my work sketched out for me.