Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boring You With #GSD

I've been a bad, bad blogger I know. My life seems centered in repetative daily tasks that I can't believe would be interesting, and while I search my day and life for things to share, they do not come.

I've had this blog so long that I think you've heard it all.

Today I declared a Get Shit Done (or Just Do It) day with the goal of cleaning of my first floor. Some level more than a quick run through, but less than a knock-down, drag out Spring/Fall cleaning. So I'll bore you with details of this day. Think of this as live-blogging a life.

#1. List of tasks: Clean first floor: vacuum, dust, mop, declutter. Clean bathroom, declutter laundry room. Prep healthy foods for 3 days, make up calendar for July, write workouts for week, write BlogHer post, walk dogs. Drink a gallon of water (it's hot). #gsd #justdoit

#2. LOL as I read my Twitterscope for the day:
There may be more stuffed into your day today than you can actually handle, but that may not keep you from trying. It would be easier to get more done if you stopped long enough to make a practical plan. Flying by the seat of your pants sometimes works for you, but now it's a frivolity you cannot afford. Be realistic and get your schedule back to a manageable level of activity.
#3. Finished vacuuming. Now I am really a top-down cleaner - which means that vacuuming should be the very last task of the day. However, my house was covered with shed dog fur which distracted me from seeing anything else. So I gave the first floor a good vacuum now, and I'll likely give it another vacuum when I'm done.

#4. Dust/polish. This was my favorite chore as a kid. I loved pouring the polish on the wood and bringing it to a shine. I loved the lemon smell. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished. Not any more.

Dusting bookcases is a major PIA! Moving items, dusting them, then putting them back in place? Whose idea was this?

#5. Declutter. Every once in a while it a good thing to take a surface down to nothing then decide what needs to be there and what needs to be thrown away or put away. Returns a sense of calm and order to a place. Why does it only last a matter of hours, though? (nature despises a vacuum?)

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things To Do Before BlogHer

BlogHer 09 in Chicago is fast approaching. I need a good to-do list to keep myself organized. Feel free to add anything I may have missed to this list:

1. order Moo cards.

2. Lose 10#. Hasn't happened all year, but it is do-able. Just have to pay attention to my food more closely. I don't think I can work out harder.

3. Gather all my electronic toys and their necessary cords. Decide which ones I'm really going to take and use and which I can leave at home.

4. Make a packing check list.

5. Chart out the parties I've responded to and the ones I've heard about. Search out parties that have FOOD.

6. Plan a workout with other fitness bloggers there.

7. Plan a Craft-In to show and tell crafty stuff with others there.

8. I have one day free. Figure out how to get from hotel to Museum of Science and Industry. And back.

9. Try on and plan wardrobe for the weekend so I can pack the least amount of clothes.

10. What food products do I want/need to pack? Meal replace bars in case of flour-heavy meals? Protein shake mix? Nuts?

11. See which -if any-panels I want to attend. I have a feeling I will hanging out the Geek Lab all weekend. Who wants to help me get my free wordpress blog moved to a hosted site? And show me how to keep things up from there? Program? All those fun things?

12. Damn. I thought of something else while out walking. Can I remember it now? And it's probably really important.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Choosing a Travel Craft

(crossposted at BlogHer)

BlogHer 09 is just over 5 weeks away which means I have to start considering what to take with me on the road. Travel time is great for catching up on reading and podcasts, but it's also the very best time to work on simple portable projects. What should I pack for 5 days in Chicago? NOTE: My flights both ways have 2 - count them two!- changes of flights each direction.

Travel crafts have several unique requirements:
  • little reference material- an easily copied page or two from a book, or a pattern. No way you want too many extra books or reference materials with the small tray tables. Cars, trains or buses offer even less work space.
  • easily pack-able size. A project that fits in the pocket of carry-on is idea.
  • handwork only. I've heard of women bringing crank machines on airplanes -but I've never witnessed it. And I wouldn't want to share a crowded airline row with one.
  • easy to quickly pack up.
  • no small parts to lose.

The first choice and most logical project is a pair of socks. Socks are mostly repetition work, with one big interruption where you have to pay attention: the heel. These are the first socks I'm knitting from Two-at-a-Time Socks and the first time I'm using this method. Knitting socks on a "magic loop" isn't new to me, but two at a time rather doubles some of the challenges. So the heels, I fear, will be very challenging. I either must get beyond this point before I fly or accept that I may be ripping and redoing while traveling. I'm not certain this is an acceptable option.

What else is a portable fun project to work on?

Several years ago I purchased a cordoroy jacket, styled very much like the common denim jackets: seaming along the front and back, deep front and back yolks, a close-fitting waist band and cuffs. It struck me as the perfect base for embellishing with embroidery and stitchery. And it is. The joy of working on it is that I can wear it, pull thread and needle out of a pocket and work on it, then put it on again. But Chicago in July isn't a place where I can imagine needing a jacket. This would be too large a project to carry along any other way.

A simple crochet project. I've been enchanted looking at the crocheted potholders that Grumperina received in a recent exchange. It wouldn't take long to get a pattern or two together and choose to make these as small holiday presents.

A beading project like my DNA chain projects would be easy to pack, but I fear flying over the center of the country during summer storm season. One surprise patch of turbulence and my project could be all over the cabin.

There is a felted coasters project I'm working on. I haven't been fond of any of my designs so far; progress is going slowly. A few squares of felted sweaters, though, some threads and some needles and I will have plenty of time to work on this.

Sewing? Nothing portable and hand-work based. Painting? Uhm, no. Screen printing? Again.. NOT PORTABLE. The most logical projects are still embroidery, crochet or knitting socks. Maybe, given those choices I'll just start a new pair of socks when I get to the airport and know I won't get to the heels before I get home.

Do you have any recommendations on crafting projects we can take on the road?

Other Readings:

Threadbare's Meagan Ileana embroiders images of her every day life. Simple lines become toes and hands, grass and flowers, drawn out with needle and thread. What a way to capture the memories of a day or two on a special trip. ht: hellocraft

CRAFT offers a small practical project -especially you're hitting the road to head to wedding/reception. Linda Permann worte a simple tutorial for a crocheted bowtie. Requiring only one skein of yard and a crochet hook, this totally qualifies as a grab-for-on-the-road project that can be put to use when you arrive at your destination.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A first

Yesterday I had a first as an individual who feeds birds: a hummingbird flew up to me while I was standing outside eating my breakfast banana. It hovered directly in front of me as if to say:

Please, ma'am, could you see to my feeder?

Now I've had chickadees that have begged for food, I've had finches lingering over feeders that needed filled. I've heard of hummers pestering the humans who fill their feeders.

But this was the first time I've actually experienced it.

Yes. I took the feeder right inside, made some simply syrup, and filled it.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Maker Faire. Are You A Maker?

RT @SisterDiane: Okay, here's the plan: Maker Faire becomes some kind of permanent geek village, and we all go live there together. You in? #mf09*
I am one of the many folk who -like Sister Diane - would SO be in to moving to Maker Faire village! Yet, early this week friends asked about the one thing that left the biggest impression: that experience that was the the pen-ultimate explanation of Maker Faire. I was left speechless. How do I condense fire sculptures, craft bizarre, wardrobe refashioning in real time, technology demonstrations, R2D2, the Lost in Space robot, uniquely designed bicycles, Lego's heaven, Burning Man ethic, etc. into one clear item? I can't.

Katherine Sharpe of ReadyMade tried to explain it also in Understanding Maker Faire:
Maker Faire feels like a lot of things that are familiar: a country fair, a science fair, a basement rocketry club outing, a hippie teach-in, shop class, computer camp, Burning Man, a trade show or three. And yet, in combination, they become unfamiliar, unique.

...Maker Faire seems to me to be about fusing this age-old tradition of the amateur expert, making things, with a new generation of technology—instead of doing wild things with car engines, Makers are doing wild things with iPods and LEDs. It’s also about adopting a certain attitude towards making. The attitude feels almost ’60s-countercultural, but without the self-righteousness. Or maybe it has more to do with the late-’60s drive to self sufficiency; personal empowerment is a big theme here. In the words of Wired editor Chris Anderson at the panel on open-source hardware, “You can’t count on the consumer electronics industry to make what you want.” The ethos of the Faire is fiercely individualistic yet also about cooperation and community (as opposed to bureaucracy).There’s a feeling that bending technology to one’s own means is an act of rebellion, but of playful, minor rebellion, more on the order of a meaningful prank than organized political action.
I'm sure I missed more at this year's fair than I know. TreeHugger highlighted Ceallach dyes display in the sustainable village, where they were selling yarn dyed using solar power. HOW DID I MISS THIS??
Ceallach Dyes is a new hand dyed yarn line that uses a simple box that captures the heat from the sun to set the dyes. Many dyers will use the microwave or oven, but this company has chosen to go renewable.

The box is simply lined with aluminum foil and covered in a glass lid. The heat generated is more than enough to gently set the dyes, avoiding the use of electricity generated from non-renewable, dirty sources.
Perhaps the overwhelming crowds were the reason I missed seeing most of the sustainable village. Tracy Elaine from Passing Open Windows had no problem sharing some of her photos -though, she too, admitted that many couldn't be taken because of the crowds. She managed to capture the essence of SteamPunk, show some of the outdoor displays, and caught the wonders of Patchwerk Press doing free screen printing as part of the Scrap-a-Rama. I'll admit it, I almost took off my t-shirt to get a cool screen printed.

One of the neat items at the show was the MakeReady Journal available to attendees. The journals not only fit with the fair's theme of Re-Make America, it highlights the techniques from Jeannine Stein's new book: Re-Bound.

Others Who Attended:

Kristen from Craft Leftovers posted on the fun of Makers Day- the day that vendors set up, meet up, and visit amonst themselves before the crowds appear. During the weekend, Kristen taught mending techniques from her booth. Then she rounded up the Weekend when the Faire was over.

Sewing Demos on the CRAFT stage, we took turns teaching people to mend.

And then I came home and slept for 11 hours, haha. In many ways I feel like my stay in San Francisco is really just starting. It’s been a blast. I met so many great people at the Faire and now I’m meeting so many great people here in town.

In many ways I feel like all the many people came by, but then, on the other hand, i did give away all 200 zines plus about 400 of the Mending on the Go zine! So that right there tells me the mass of the people flowing by. So wonderful.

If I met you at the faire, it was so nice to meet you and welcome to Craft Leftovers - the blog all about making with what you have on hand!
If you're wondering if Maker Faire is really a family affair (I offer a loud, resounding YES!) CRAFT included a look at the fair from a pre-teen's perspective.

I, being a 12-year-old girl, was more than overwhelmed by the throngs of people with cup creations and tape wallets marching around to get from one hall to the others. Other than that, it was a crafter's dream. Every which way there another spectacle. Whether it was Japanese art or adorable felt toys, there was no way you could be bored. There was always some tutorial or show we could see. The first day we went, my seven-year-old brother accompanied us. To put it nicely, Milo is fascinated with LEGO. I should say obsessed. Anyways, when he reached the LEGO exhibit, he freaked. He screamed. He yelled. I mean that literally. After that piercing example of excitement, he raced to the LEGO buildings. My mom said that I could go find something to look at while he played. Next, I wandered to the Ponko table, where they displayed their innovative methods of creating laser-cut art. I made a bracelet made of plastic with a laser-cut tree design. It was so awesome.
Wish to get some of the visual impact of the weekend? Average Jane Crafter posted a collection of photos on Flickr: Maker Faire Bay Area 2009

Finally, one of the biggest mechanical wonders at the fair was Christian Risto's Hand of Man. This large mechanical hand is controlled by one human wearing a special glove. That's all I can say before I suggest you watch the video. Courtesy of MAKE:

NOT in the Bay area and wishing you could attend a Maker Faire? There have been faires held in Austin, TX., and Newcastle, UK. As MAKE gains more experience, I'd expect you might eventually find one on the east coast as well. It does not matter. If there is any way for you to attend a Maker Faire, do so! I fear our dream of a Maker Village is even further in the future.

*beginning quote from @SisterDiane's twitter stream.

(crossposted at BlogHer).

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Crafting a Life: Quilt Shows

(crossposted at BlogHer)

With weather warming and the spring/summer seasons upon us, craft, sewing and quilt guilds around the world are putting the final touches on their local shows, or are breathing a sigh of relief as their show finishes up. Adding to the local appeal of these shows are regional and national shows presented every year.

glowy quilt show

Local shows:
There is a charm to attending a local quilt guild or sewing guild show. Each group often has at least one very prolific member who enters 8-12 items; by the end of the show, it often gets easy to spot that person's work. There is often a section of first quilts. While some of these are simple designs, there is usually one over-achiever who does fabulously technical work that makes her project look more like a masterpiece than beginner piece.

Each show has an aisle or two displaying workshop projects. These allow the visitor to compare how individual color sense dramatically alters the appearance of a pattern.

Look at this photo of three Lone Star Quilts each made with the same pattern and even quilted identically. The choices of color and color placement changes the feel of each item.

Regional Shows:

Regional shows remove some of the charm from the guild shows -seldom organizing to highlight a workshop project for example. In return, the creative and technical quality of the work increases. There will be more individual works not made from someone else's pattern. There will be hand- dyed fabrics, extra embellishments and almost always something that surprises and delights the visitor. These shows may still be run by amateurs -state or regional councils representing a number of guilds for example. However, some of these are also presented by professional organizing companies such as Mancuso Brothers show management.

One of the most anticipated summer regional shows -Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show- takes place in Sisters, Or. on Saturday, July 11th.

National Shows:

Every year, quilters save sheckles and vacation time to make pilgrimages to Paducah, Kentucky in the springtime and/or Houston, Texas, in the fall. I've never made it to either of these shows, so rather than try to explain them, myself, let others discuss their experiences:

Frieda Anderson shared impressions of quilts from Paducah Quilt Show.

PattieWack Craft Blog determined she was Paducah Bound or BUST. And found the experience completely worth it.

Julie -Feeling Simply Quilty- joined a bus trip to Paducah and showed her day.

At CJ Stitching and Blooms we learn another reason to attend a large show: international friends get a chance to meet in person.

Heidi Zielinski -like other quilters- has already submitted her quilts to be juried into the Houston show this fall.

Photo credit:
Glowy Quilt Show, by skvidal's Flickrstream. Three Lone Star Quilts, from circulating's Flickrstream.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.