Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gettin' inked

Not really. I wish I was brave enough to get a tattoo. But I don't like needles.  And I don't think I would ever be able to decide on an image.  That stuff is permanent.  And sometimes I'm fickle.  It's too big of a decision.  Almost as big as choosing fabric for your next project. See how I just transitioned there?  Stick around--it's going to get better. Maybe not...see? Fickle.

One of my favorite people ever who had one of the most fun weddings I've ever attended and with whom I eat lunch almost every day asked for a bag.  She likes big bags, but she has a tot, so she needs certain things to be readily accessible.  Then she told me she had been looking on (I love when my 'customers' do their own research--saves me the guesswork) and saw something she thought would be good.  It was a large print so she thought it would look good on a larger bag, and the colors seemed vibrant but not loud (I'm amazed that people listen long enough for something to sink in when I babble on about this stuff, and then kind of repeat it back to me accurately).

So here's the print she selected:

This is Michael Miller's 'Tattoo Parlour Scroll'

I would normally have passed this by.  I like pink and flowers and Christmas trees, so things that are not one of those things don't register with me (unfortunately--because usually they're quite nice.  I need to increase my fabric field of view).  I'm considering ordering more of this just to have on hand--it really is a great looking fabric.  And it is 100% her personality.

Anyhoodle--here's the bag I just finished:

Please excuse the huge shadow on the left--I need to deliver tomorrow so I had to snap photos tonight.

And here's a modification to the original:  she asked for pockets on the outside to fit a kid's juice cup or a bottle of water, etc.  I had to figure out the measurements of the bottom pleat and how much elastic was just right--I think I nailed it.... I really like how it blends in to the side so it's not obvious there are pockets on the sides.

And here's your standard inside: slip pocket on the left, zip pocket on the right.

I thought I had much more of this red than I actually did, but I had the exact amount I needed so all ended up being right with the world.  I like how the fabric has chameleon properties about it.  It looks like an animal print but it's not.  It's called Tattoo Parlour and looks tattoo-ish, but not really.  It's kind of abstract, but at the same time definitely a scroll pattern.  Michael Miller is definitely my favorite fabric designer.   And Amy Butler.  If they ever collaborated on a fabric line my head might explode.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Boring Bag

The scene:  Tuesday morning, 10:37.  A basic American office.  A/C is on super-high.  Not relevant to the scene but just letting you know they keep it crazy cold in my building. Not just in the summer but all year round.  This is why I own so many cardigans.  Action!

[Ring ring]
Me:  Hello, this is Bethany.
Voice:  Hi, Bethany.  I was wondering if you would mind making me a bag.  I like the one you made for so-and-so with the curvy piece at the top.
Me:  OK, that's no problem.  What kind of fabric do you want me to use?  If it's not in my stash I'll search for something. 
Voice:  I was about beige?
Me:  What?  Did you say beige?  Like....beige?
Voice:  Yes, something neutral but fun.
Me:  Beige is not fun.  Beige is boring.
Voice:  Well, I want a boring bag.  Something that goes with everything.
Me:  Do you want any kind of embellishment?  Some embroidery? Applique?  Something with a little color to make the beige more fun?  Any trims for contrast?
Voice:  No, just beige.
Me:  Can I make the lining something fun?
Voice:  Sure!  Nobody will see it anyway.
End scene.

I'm not going to lie.  I felt a little twisty pang of ugh after this conversation. I like color. I like prints. I like things that are not beige (except for carpets, and sometimes pants for work).  I dislike sewing things out of things that are boring.  You can buy a plain beige bag anywhere...if you're having one made you should choose something fun.

OK, I'm climbing off my sewpbox (say it like 'soapbox' -- see what I did there?  Ahh...made-up homophones. Fun).  I didn't think I was going to find anything interesting in the beige section at the fabric store, but I did find something in my stash.  One piece I had was a khaki-colored twill.  I fell asleep looking at it.  But then I found something I had totally forgot that I bought.

So I present to you Sweet Bee's Tips for Making a Yawn Bag Interesting.

First:  texture adds visual interest.

Lightweight corduroy with thin wales and antique bronze hardware.

The straps and pockets break up a bleak monotone landscape.

Second:  make the lining pop.

Fun polka dots yell "Surprise!" when you peak inside.  Not literally.  Visually.

Finally, use cute  flower pins when sewing the lining together to amuse yourself.

See?  Amusing.

I don't think it came out too bad. Much better than I expected.  The corduroy is so lightweight that it feels like regular cotton fabric.  I just don't know if it's a psychological thing about corduroy in the summer...I love the contrast of the lining and the bag. And it's one sturdy bag, let me tell you. 

And finally, she also asked for one of these:

I was allowed to 'go crazy' with this sunglasses case.  I hope I didn't get too out of control...but then I considered the 'go crazy' as compared to the 'beige' and figured I'd go low-key crazy.

That's all I've got right now.  We dog-sat this weekend for my sister's puppy.  Her very-curious-gets-into-everything-is-not-conducive-to-sewing puppy.  Cute as all get-out (whatever that's one of my mom's expressions) but a nipper.  Loves ankles and chewing shoes while you're still wearing them.  But cute.  And not a drooler.  Dog drool is icky.  I can totally get behind Lucy van Pelt with that one.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crafty mind-wandering: Sharing is Caring

Do you ever forget that you know how to do something? Before I learned how to sew my method of getting pants that were too long to fit properly was to try and shrink them.  After I had learned to sew a bit I was getting ready to employ that method again when it struck me that "Hey! I can just HEM them now!"  I was blog-browsing today when I saw a beautiful photo of a bowl of various yarns.  I sighed in my head and started thinking "Wouldn't it be nice to know..." when I interrupted myself and remember that I do indeed know how to knit.  I think I forgot because I've been so extremely engrossed in sewing lately that I haven't done any of either.  How could I forget such a thing?

Both of my grandmothers were handy with needles, thread and yarn--my mother and several of my aunts proclaim that these genes skipped them and crash-landed in me.  I remember going to the store with my mother to look at yarn because my grandma had asked her to pick some up for her, digging through the bins and trying to match all the dye lot numbers.  I was always curious to know just how you get a long continuous string to be something usable.  But I never asked to know, and it was never offered, so I grew up surrounded by magic markers and construction paper, and with my nose buried in books.  After my maternal grandmother passed, I started paying a bit more attention to the things that she had made, and when her sister (my mother's aunt) passed some years later I realized that I knew very few people (one, to be exact) who knew how to knit, crochet, or sew.  I felt these things my relatives had done so lovingly needed to still be done.  So about seven years ago I decided I wanted to learn these things.  I asked for a learn-to-knit kit for Christmas.  I cast on my first stitch...and stopped.  I just couldn't get my head wrapped around the instructions.  I could not get beyond that one loop.  Talk about frustrating.  Luckily we were trekking across the state to see my other grandma--who knew how to knit and said she'd teach me.

 After driving what seemed like forever I was chomping at the bit like a two year old on a sugar high, I was so ready to get started.  She told me "If you wait until after dinner I'll teach you."  After things quieted down I sat next to my grandma and the lesson commenced.  She showed me a much easier way to cast on than what I was doing.  But no matter what I just could not get the hang of it.  There were many times I'm surprised she didn't push me off the chair and tell me to go sit in the corner until I learned to pay attention (although that WOULD have been surprising if she had done that because that is so not my grandma).  Eventually I got it--like many things you just have to find that rhythm.  After that knitting was easy.  My very first project was a dishcloth. was intended to be a dishcloth and by the time I was done that was all you would really want to use it for because it did not look good. I had dropped a stitch somewhere.  The cotton yarn plies separated easily, and so I would make two stitches out of one.  I knitted so tightly my fingers turned red and were a little swollen.  But I soldiered on, until I had added stitches and then decreased them so many times that I was getting nowhere. I asked my grandma if I was allowed to just bind everything off and have a big diagonal corner and she told me "It's your project.  You can do whatever you want."  So I did. It was a dishcloth only a mother could love--that's exactly who received it, consequently.  I have made countless dishcloths since then--they sell well and they're easy.

 This is the pattern I make the most--I once saw it online called "Grandma's Dishcloth," and I thought "Yeah it is!"  It's super-easy and looks more difficult to do than it actually is.
(NOTE: Not my photo--I found it on the 'Sew Funky' blog).

I read somewhere that the first thing you knit is all you'll ever make, so it shouldn't be something like scarves. I say boo to that.  OK, most of what I knit does happen to be dishcloths, but I use many different stitch patterns, and I have tried many other things.  I've made a few sweaters that were ok, but nothing wonderful.  Or even very good (I've since learned that this may be because I didn't block them--major party foul on my part).  Same thing with socks--I thought it would be awesome to make socks.  But my fingers are a little too clumsy for some of the intricacies of socks.  I like my knitting to be soothing, but I also like quick projects since I'm always excited to move on to the next thing.  So I stick with mittens, hats, scarves, and dishcloths--I can make them well enough that they'll be used frequently, they're not expensive to make, and I can toss the work-in-progress in my purse and go.  But I do have serious knit envy when I see pictures of gorgeous hand-knit sweaters.  Maybe one day when I have more patience...

I have a hard time sitting still ever since I learned to knit, because crochet followed, then cross-stitch, and now sewing.  I am never bored and always have something to do.  I almost never watch movies that come with my sister's caveat "You really can't knit or you'll miss something."  I've tried to get people interested in knitting ever since then, but it's still too often associated with being a granny-craft (I'm still not sure why that's a bad thing).  I'm happy when I read that knitting is this trendy, underground thing that's happening now amongst the younger generations.  It's not necessary to knit, for the most part--which is part of why it's so relaxing (when it's work it loses its appeal).  The yarns that are available come in gorgeous colors and beautiful textures--I sometimes want to just wind balls of yarn and put them in a basket as a decoration.  I don't think anything says "warmth" on so many levels--the warmth a knitted item can bring physically, but also warm memories of sitting at my grandma's side, chewing my lower lip, and trying to keep a row of pesky loops from falling off of my needle.

I guess my point (you should know by now I'm long-winded when it comes to making points) is that if you want to know something, learn it. Find someone who can teach you.  Take lessons.  Or, if necessary, scour the internet.  There is so much information available to us as crafters that there is no good reason we can't learn something.  I'm just glad I realized how much I'd appreciate a granny craft being taught to me by my granny before it was too late.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

I didn't go far, and I didn't stay long, but I have that wonderful feeling of "Ahhh, home."  My favorite part of the weekend was breakfast--the other folks were so friendly that it felt like a big family breakfast.  My least favorite? Eating dinner by myself.  I am a yackety-yack, and I don't like to feel conspicuous, so I felt very uncomfortable being conspicuously solo without a chat partner.  After breakfast this morning I headed home because my favorite boy asked me to come home closer to lunchtime than to dinnertime; since the word "no" doesn't exist in my vocabulary, I came home.

So while I'm mentally prepping myself for the fact that I have to go to work tomorrow, here is some randomness about town:

Everyone should live at such a crossroads (I originally wrote crosswords--which I guess would apply too. And might even be serendipitous).  This is the shingle for a yummy mixed goods and book store.

 It was really neat being out and about in town on the hour--this clock tower plays beautiful bell music during the day--definitely in my top-ten list of "Things I Like About Small Towns."
 I dig how this stone staircase is nestled into the mountainside, about 50 feet off of the street.  It looks like secret things happen wherever it trysts and rendez-vous and such.

 Some of these homes had the most beautiful flowers in such vibrant colors. 

 This door certainly stuck out amidst the other ordinary doors.

 I would be in seventh heaven if this was my front entrance.  There were flags everywhere--I love a town where The Flag is flown in abundance.

 And this would naturally be my letter box....

And now, because I seem to have a radar for sewing and yarn-related goodies...

Look at the hand stitching on this old quilt.  I don't have the patience to do that.

Amazing--I do this and I call it 'storage.'  Someone else does this and it's 'memory art.'

 I've never heard of this company--have you?

 The innkeeper collects teapots. She has so many she asked people to stop sending them to her as she has no more room.  Meream--you would have loved it :)

 I kind of regret not buying this...but this store smelled like moth balls and that smell seems to never come out of anything...maybe I'll frame the picture and hang it on the door.

 I was going to buy this for my grandma--until I saw the price tag.  Oh, and the 'hold for Anne' tag that was on it...

I used to fight the urge to fall asleep while I was knitting because I just wanted to finish one more row before I could go to bed (I think this little girl is just plain bored with it).

And just because it reminds me of the one I had when I was little:

Although I love nostalgia--I'm really glad we as a society have progressed to computers.  Because some days Backspace is my best friend.

I spent most of my money on chowing down grub, but here are the things I bought:

Peppermint candy and candy cigarettes (I don't condone smoking--just love the way they taste), assorted old books, and a blue bottle in the shape of George Washington's head (don't ask).

A Moda charm pack, a couple fat quarters, and some antique buttons.  I was very restrained, doncha think?

My final purchase of the weekend--I tried to fight it but couldn't and handed over the cash.

So that's my weekend in a very large nutshell.  I met some nice people (except for one guy at the B and B who was kind of miserable--he was just so 'grrrr' during breakfast each day that I wanted to ask him to go back to his room because he was ruining our jolly good times).  I slept in the most comfortable bed (I'm thinking of getting a feather pillow-top for my bed since I couldn't fit hers in my travel bag, haha).  And I realized that though I'm an introvert I would not make a good hermit.  I like people. I like being around them, observing them, talking with them.  I thought I would like being away by myself, and I did, but I would have liked being away with the people I love even more.  What good are the good times if they're not shared?  Idyllic weekend, and a few lessons learned.  Always a good thing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Take a ride on the Reading Railroad....then go directly to jail

I started my morning here with a delightful breakfast.  There are two couples staying here this weekend in addition to myself. One couple is from Iowa, and they are exploring Pennsylvania's rail lines.  A great way to start the day is with good conversation and good coffee, with a side of bacon cooked just how I like it.  As soon as breakfast was over we all went our separate ways.  I explored this town pretty much from top to bottom (except for a few things I've seen recently or have zero interest in).

This town has a rich history--coal mining, railroad engineering, shipping, titans of industry, etc.  I am sitting here trying to remember some of it but the only two things I can remember is that the gravity-controlled switchback train evolved into the roller coaster, and that 19 of 26 millionaires in the country about a hundred years ago lived in this town.  If you're interested in learning more click here and here.  I definitely recommend this place as a spot to visit.  I'm not an outdoor enthusiast, but if you are there is something to be found for everyone in every season.  And if you're like me there is plenty of other stuff to keep you amused.

The first touristy thing that I did was to take a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway Black Diamond Express.  I bought a ticket for the open-air car because it was muggy here today.  The train goes about 25 minutes down the line then comes back.  There isn't an absolute ton to see, and the ride is a little anti-climatic (or is it climactic?) because you literally go nowhere but right back where you started from.  The entire tour is narrated, with a bit of Pennsylvania trivia thrown in for good measure.

" 'Scuse me ma'am--you need a ticket to ride this train..."

That hole in the rock is an old train tunnel--the tracks that used to come out of it to cross the river are long gone.  A few years ago we went in the tunnel--it's dark and wet and covered in graffiti.

This is 'Little Niagara Falls.'  All of it.  I sensed there might be some sarcasm in its name, but not this much. Interestingly, no matter how hot and dry it gets this stream never runs dry.

I like how telephone poles and train tracks seem to always be together.  I remember in a movie once they stopped the train so they could hook up to a line and make a phone call. I wonder if that was ever done on this line.

I'm about fifty feet away from this butterfly---my camera's zoom rocks!  There were a ton of butterflies in this area, but they kept fluttering away.

After the train ride, I saw a sign for an HO scale train display.  It was on the second floor of this building:
Downstairs was a gorgeous little gift shop.

When I went upstairs the guy running it gave me a little background (and I do mean a little):  he told me it took 48 years for all of the pieces to be collected, and that it took fifteen people a year and a half to put it together.  Then he said "I'll go get the show started."  This "show" consisted of him dimming the lights, and playing some music that had to do with trains. I found it very amusing, but I dig trains, and I have fond memories of my dad's train set when I was young.  I loved setting up the little town and just watching the train do its thing.  People don't seem to be interested in that sort of thing anymore.
It's quite a spread, ya gotta admit.  Ya just gotta!!

 I think this one is my favorite because it looks so real--check out the lights.

After checking out the miniatures (did I ever confess to you that I love things in miniature?  If I haven't I do) I headed back to the inn for a snack and to freshen up.  Here's a shot of where I'm staying:

It's called The Parsonage.  It was built by the Reverend Webster for his large family, and is the oldest original building in the town.

Then I walked up the street to the jail.  That's right. The jail. In the middle of this idyllic little mountain town is the Old Jail.  They give a tour that is the fastest tour you will ever take.  I'm not sure if it's because it's not a large jail, or because the tour guide spoke so quickly  you could barely understand her.

Hey!! I didn't get a body search!! No fair!!

Can you imagine being in this cell all alone?  I don't care WHAT kind of criminal you are--that's scary.  But that's kind of the point--these cells are in the dungeon and where you go when you're put in solitary.

These are the gallows where the Molly Maguires were hanged.  Four at a time.  The legend goes that when they were dragging one of them out of his cell (#17) that he touched the wall and proclaimed that as long as his handprint remained there it would be a testament to his innocence.  The print is still there.  You can't take pictures because it's copyrighted (however you copyright a handprint).  I'm going to copyright my fingerprints so that if I'm ever accused of a crime and they have print evidence I can say "It's illegal for you to have a copy of that print--it's copyright protected.  Who's the criminal NOW?!" Tee-hee.

 And of course, where there's a historic prison there will be rumors of hauntings.

According to paranormal activity experts each of those orbs is supposed to be a spirit.  Some people say they're camera defects, but none of my other photos have such defects (the big orangey-yellow ones are regular lights).  Since this is the part of the prison that's supposed to be haunted, I'm leaning towards the ghost theory.

There was a ghost tour scheduled for this evening, but my feet ache and my back hurts, and I really could not handle the idea of walking up that hill again, so I sat in and watched a movie instead.

I have a bag full of goodies to bring home with me.  I used one of my totes I made that you can fold up and stick in your handbag--it came in quite handy, holds a lot, and doesn't feel a bit weak in the seams (I'm not above a shameless plug--there are a few in my shop if you're interested).

I've got some shots of my loot and some town randomness--I'll pop those up tomorrow.

Hot chocolate and some reading, and then sleep in an insanely comfortable bed.  Perfect.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...