Thursday, May 29, 2008

Embroidery recap

So, back to things I am actually making (and thank you for your patience with yesterday's super-long post)... :) Above is the pillowcase I mailed to my sister (late, of course) for her birthday. I showed you a peek here but there's the finished, real deal for you. Of course I don't even need to tell you I struggled with the colors, but I needed some uber-cuteness in my life and this pattern fit the bill. Want to stitch it yourself? Pattern here.

fk = frida kahlo :)

I recently experimented with cross-stitching on jeans - this was for a side-project that didn't get off the ground (but may pan out in the future). I was shocked at how easy it was to stitch on jeans - I guess I assumed they'd be a real pain in the A to work with, but they weren't. FK, by the way, stands for Frida Kahlo, because I just randomly decided these jeans should celebrate the life of Frida:

viva Frida jeans

I just hope she's not insulted that her life is celebrated on the rear of somebody's jeans. :) Oh, and if you're wondering if those skinny-minnie jeans are my size, not a chance. But I have been sticking to my workout plan and it is amazing. I have so much more energy, and even though I'm not wraith-thin (nor do I want to be) there's a whole lot less wiggling and jiggling and the junk in the trunk is arranged much more nicely. :) I decided it was time to work out when I discovered I couldn't wear any jeans in my closet (even the ones I bought a little big, on purpose) without feeling that if I breathed too hard I'd split a seam. Everything fits again! I completely recommend it! :)

If you've visited my blogging friend Cal's blog recently, you'll see who the cute Sublime Stitching chihuahua went to... Now, I am not normally a dog person, but I will admit that something in me loves chihuahuas. I used to have a hairless (or "nude") mouse and maybe that's part of the draw... In any case, when I saw this picture of Cal's chihuahua, Gertie, I crumbled:

I remembered the Sublime Stitching chihuahua patterns I had, and felt compelled to stitch one and send it to Cal. Personally, I think the resemblance is amazing:

Lastly, I've been meaning to update the design on Feeling Stitchy for awhile now, especially that clip-art banner. I decided that instead of doing all the work myself, we should have a contest and have everyone who wants to, stitch their own FS banner. But I know a lot of people love the little thimble guy, as do I, so I quickly drew out a little pattern, and it became the new Flickr Embroidery group icon:


Hopefully I'll get it together and announce the contest details on Feeling Stitchy this weekend...

That's about it for me, and thanks again for bearing with my overly long (and ranty) post yesterday. I thought about it a lot and felt stupid for being so negative and I apologize for that. What I really wanted to convey was what you all conveyed so well in your (much appreciated) comments: there's more to blogging than gossip and snarkiness, and the craft blogging community truly inspires me with their never-ending creativity and generosity. I am glad to be blogging because of all of you - your comments, your support and your kindness. Thank you, all of you, for being so amazing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

this strange thing called blogging

random photo that has nothing to do with my topic :)

I've been thinking lately about this odd thing called blogging. I read an article this weekend, in New York Times Magazine, of all places, and it was so unbelievably childish, vacuous and pointless that I thought to myself several times "Isn't New York Times magazine a serious publication?" Seriously, I felt like the kids I went to middle school with were having a war of words, slam-book style and somehow the intelligent people of New York city had published it. Really, is this news (and cover) worthy? Sure, she's an intelligent person, with an awesomely sarcastic, snappy voice that's pitch-perfect for blogging. But she's writing about nothing in the most immature way possible... and that's interesting?

What's ironic, of course, is that I also keep a blog and write about nothing... and I am blogging about a blogger who blogs about nothing... :) However, it started me thinking about possible distinctions between T.M.I., "all about me" blogs and craft blogs. I like to blog about a little of everything - what I'm thinking, what I did, what I was listening to, what I read, but mostly I love to blog about what I make. And it's that distinction that keeps me coming back to craft and art blogs - this emphasis on creating rather than simply dissecting life. And what really fascinates me is that I've met so many people like myself through blogging- which is no small feat because I am an unusual person. And yet every odd quirk I thought unique to me (and that I felt a little guilty for) I've seen reflected in the art, photos, crafts, music, and words of people I've "met" online. Granted, we have never met in person, me and all these people I've made serendipitous connections with, through a stray comment, photo or craft. But thanks to technology I can now connect with people in exactly the way I want to (and often can't in "real" life) through words and images.

Another distinction I make about craft blogs is that they're overall pretty positive. There are a few rant moments, but mostly they're more about creating and less about dishing on the bitter trivialities of our lives. I don't see this blog as my diary - it may be a diary, but of a different sort. For me, it's a chronicle of what is in my mind, what is moving me, inspiring me, and pushing me forward. But I still experience these moments in blogging, typically in the middle of the night, hours and hours after I hit "publish" in which I wonder if I should have revealed that. And that always changes, and even though I'm cautious I still feel I teeter on the brink of having revealed too much, all the time. My formula has always been to never blog about something I wouldn't chat with my grandmother or boss about. It sounds stupid, but no matter how well you conceal your identity with screen names, the internet is never private.

I recently skimmed through a copy of Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez and something in the close of this book resonated so much with blogging and my reservations about blogging:

"I have come to think of myself as engaged in writing graffiti. Encouraged by physical isolation to reveal what is most personal; determined at the same time to have my words seen by strangers. I have come to understand better why works of literature - while never intimate, never individually addressed to the reader - are so often among the most personal statements we hear in our lives."

I struggled to get through the book because I disagreed with a lot of what he was saying (hence the skimming rather than the actual reading). I found it sad that he justifies writing about his parents when they specifically asked him not to and that he believes his education created a huge gulf between them. I think the gulf is one of personality and ego, not of language or education, and that it would have existed whether he was educated in Spanish, Greek, or French. And his refusal to respect their wishes mirrors perfectly, to me, the way people can justify unrepentantly blogging every detail of their personal life.

Blogging connections aside, there are moments in this book that I love, which communicate exactly how I felt as a "star Hispanic student", growing up:

He is the great mimic; a collector of thoughts, not a thinker; the very last person in class who ever feels obliged to have an opinion of his own.
Also, the dogged way he worked through lists of great books before college (I had a similar list tacked up on my bedroom wall all through middle and high school). :) Also his thoughts on the jarring transition between life in Spanish (private, or "intimate" life) and life in English (public life). My first language was Spanish and although I'll never be as educated in that language as I am in English, it still remains the most intimate language to me. And finally, my favorite part, was his description of his grandmother:
The last time I saw my grandmother I was nine years old. I can tell you some of the things she said to me as I stood by her bed. I cannot, however, quote the message of intimacy she conveyed with her voice. She laughed, holding my hand. Her voice illumined disjointed memories as it passed them again. She remembered her husband, his green eyes, the magic name of Narciso. His early death. She remembered the farm in Mexico. The eucalyptus nearby. (Its scent, she remembered, like incense.)

So, in this very lengthy post turned book review, I wonder... what do you think about blogging? What draws you to it (and what repels you)? Do you think craft blogs are any different from "gossip" blogs? Are there things that are too private for you to blog about, or do you think everything is blog-worthy?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Music to wash dishes to


I think I have an unusually high affinity for sad love songs. The sadder and more tragic the better - which means that if I ever endure a break up I can't allow myself near my CD collection if don't want to be a teary, irretrievable mess. :) What is it about these maudlin songs that draws me in - I don't exactly know... Maybe it is that every human knows exactly how it feels to be separated from the one they love, or to love someone who does not love them. And in spite of the fact that everyone knows exactly how it feels, that little twinge never loses its pinch and sting.

Nevertheless, as I've mentioned before, every song I love to any degree is more than just the words and music I am hearing, it is a neat package, a mysterious box that also holds everything I was doing at the time I listened to that song. So these songs are extra special to me - I used to listen to them when washing dishes in my first apartment out of college, by a sunlit window. I can remember the sounds of birds singing, cars passing, and the dappled shadows playing across my lips and eyelids as sunlight gleamed on the soapsuds. And my own voice humming to these sad songs, perhaps sadder than any sadness I have felt, and maybe lovelier than any loveliness, too. A sweetness and sadness both that never loses its twinge or sting.

I hope they are sweet for you, too. :)

p.s. If you don't understand Spanish, here are the words (very roughly translated by me) to that first song, my favorite:

Caminemos - Let Us Walk Together
No, I shouldn't think anymore of how I loved you
It's much better to forget how I suffered
No, I can't conceive that it's all at an end
That this dream of love has ended
that life separated us, without my consent...

Let us walk together, and perhaps we may see each other again, someday...

This is that path that was chosen:
I insist on dwelling on your love, which was lost in nothingness
And I live my life, simply walking, without knowing where I'll end...
maybe... walking this way, life will bring us together again, someday...

No, no, no

No, I shouldn't think anymore of how I loved you
It's much better to forget how I suffered
No, I can't conceive that it's all at an end
That this dream of love has ended
that life separated us, without my consent...

Let us walk together, and perhaps we may see each other again, someday...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rob Ryan fabric kit, cursed be the day I saw ye

Because now I want this skirt SO BAD. You know how bad, don't you? That awful burny, tingly sensation you get in your chest while your pupils dilate and your brain drones, "Must have, MUST HAVE!" (the last time I felt this way, by the way, I was 7 years old and staring at an E.T. t-shirt) That's right people, I got it bad.

{Rather gorgeous close-ups: here and here and blogged here.}

But just look at that price - £46.00? That's $89.34 in US dollars! (And I'm sure international shipping is no picnic, either.) And it's a kit, which means I'd have to sew the skirt myself. Sheesh. I still want it. Oh, you lucky UK-ers, you. You get all the good stuff. :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I'm working on / notes on Cinco de Mayo

a little something

Having posted so many vintage patterns on my other blog, Vintage Transfer Finds, I find myself in the unique (and unenviable position) of having WAY TOO MANY possible projects. I could do DOW (days of the week, to the uninitiated) towels until I was 85 and still not use up my store of patterns. I could monogram the underpants of every family member. I could make personalized bibs for the spawn of every brother, sister-in-law, and online acquaintance. I could add "style and pizzazz" to my workshirts and slacks by smattering them with sparrows, floral baskets and tasteful nosegays. That said, I'm lucky if I churn out a project here and there and try to be on time for birthdays...

I am SO BAD with birthdays (almost as bad as I am with names). I could write a novel on how extraordinarily bad I am with birthdays, only it would be a pretty boring affair and only render me unlikeable. I like the concept of birthdays. I'm just a ruffian when it comes to their execution. So you see, above, a late present I am working on for someone very, very special to me. God forbid someone should ever die the day after their birthday and I be left, sobbing over their half-finished present. It at least might substitute well for a Kleenex... :)

Another holiday I was remiss in posting about was... Cinco de Mayo:
monkeys are best not left alone with tequila

le Carotte had a series of clandestine adventures which are summed up well with... monkeys are best not left alone with tequila. Ask any Mexican-American like me what Cinco de Mayo commemorates, and they'll respond with a rousing... look of confusion. It's about some battle or other, fought in Mexico (I'm not sure who won) and the general gist is that you commemorate it by drinking tequila and giving a few "gritos". In New York city, Cinco de Mayo (or "sinco dee may-o" as our cousins up north refer to it) is celebrated by throngs of non-Mexicans pledging solidarity by mobbing every Mexican restaurant or theme bar. We're not big into the bar scene so we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a glass of wine and tasty pizza. And if I knew how to do a grito, I would have, I was so happy I wasn't being jostled by every other person in New York while consuming a burrito of questionable quality... :)

What about you? How do you celebrate your Cinco de Mayo? :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yes, these are more flowers...

little yellow centers

I know I run the risk of boring you with all these flowers, so I apologize in advance... in my defense - there are a heck of a lot of beautiful flowers blooming out there!

Like bleeding hearts (which I saw for the first time in my life, on Sunday afternoon) - in red:

and white:
in a row

and lilac bushes (I'm always amused, by the way, by people who say "ly-lock" instead of "lilac" - is this a New York thing?)

and just plain green:

I swear I'm doing other things and not just shutterbugging random flowers. Like today at lunch I walked down by the river, smelled the salty air, and watched a mockingbird fly back and forth from a lightpost, to a grassy field, and to its nest with flies wriggling in its beak. I also watched gleamingly white people struggle to sun themselves - one of them, an attractive man, really should have left his pants on... :) The air was hot and sweet with the smell of flowering bushes that were pulsing with huge, clumsy, fuzzy bumble bees. For those things I have no pictures. Just the lingering sense that the very air in New York and life itself were very calm and sweet today.

I fell asleep reading this book and had happy dreams of alien in-laws. Hope life is sweet for you as well...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Springtime restlessness

last of the tulips

The time of the tulips is so brief - this was just a week ago, but already all the tulips have begun to wilt, brown at their edges, and lean heavily towards the earth. It's cooler this week, and grayer, although the sun emerged for a little while yesterday and this morning. I love the Spring, but I've noticed I get very restless around this time - the air itself seems full of possible things, unspoken things, dreams, and I feel anxious to accomplish something...

I feel like I've been in a rut, but I look at these photos and see I've been busy... I guess it's just the Spring restlessness coloring my vision...

Here's my Ipod holder - a pocket I cut from an old jacket. I added the embroidery 2 days ago during lunch - just a single strand of red sewing thread and I didn't even draw the image first before embroidering. It felt more like drawing than embroidering...

Here are a few things I doodled while listening to the Craftsanity interview with Jenny Hart (which you really should listen to, if you haven't yet)...
day 24 of 365 Sketch: doodles
I felt like I learned so much more about her - I've always loved listening to artists talk about their work...

And finally, here's the super-slow progress I've been making on the monkey for a friend (sorry! if you are reading this!)
I've been thinking long and hard about that tiny white dress - I want everything to be perfect! Now it's time to return to a gray, chilly New York... sheesh. Anyone else feeling a Springtime funk?