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Copy Cat and Compulsive Hobbyist

First, I need to give you a little back story.  I have a couple of pretty significant issues that have influenced my course of action this week.

Issue #1: Sometimes I’m a copy cat.  Every once in a great while, I see something that gets under my skin.  I may not act on it the first time I see it, or the second or the third. Inevitably, however, if it’s lodges in just the right way, I will engage in full on mimicry.  (It’s the sincerest form of flattery you know.)

Issue #2:  Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a compulsive hobbyist.  It’s been two days since I picked up a new hobby.  And here’s the rub.  I don’t need anything new in my life right now.  The sewing machine is still out (and I think it’s staring at me) from my sewing “do over”.  I have a constant stream of crochet projects in progress with skeins of yarn taunting me from every nook and cranny of my house.  I haven’t blogged about it, but I have beading projects in process (that are staring at me accusingly from their totes) in an adjacent room. I’ll stop there lest I begin to look ridiculous.

Okay, now that you’re familiar with my issues, I can tell you about my latest misadventure…

The Seed is Planted  

Blair, who blogs at WiseCraft, began blogging about her sketchbook project a few months ago. She’s exploring the use of  water colors. I admire her for her efforts and tenacity, and have looked forward to seeing her progress.

As a pertinent side bar,  I’ve had a great interest in painting for a couple of years now.  It just doesn’t strike me as a class you’d want to take online. I think there are certain things you’ve got to do in person.  My kids are young.  I work.  There’s just no time right now.  But the idea lingers at the back of my mind.  So again, I’ve enjoyed watching Blair progress through her journey.  She’s talented in so many areas, it seemed natural that she would do something as bold as posting daily sketches.  I could never do that.  I can’t even draw for pete’s sake.  My painting plan has always been to work in abstract so that drawing would be irrelevant.

The Seed takes Hold  

Friday, I notice that Beki at artsy-craftsy babe posted her sketchbook.  It’s adorable.  Beki is ridiculously talented. She knits, sews, quilts and hand stitches some amazing projects, and apparently, she was inspired by Blair’s sketchbook project.  She’s done the most adorable watercolor houses in this little book.  I began to feel something more than “interested”.  I began to feel,  inspired…

The Seed Sprouts

Finally, over the weekend I read a post where Blair blogged about the tools she’s using for her sketchbook project. She’s doing watercolors with an assortment of nifty devices.   I’m a sucker for implements and tools…(it might even be classified as Issue #3.)

So really, it was inevitable.  Monday, I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a small spiral bound sketchbook and some common colored pencils.  I lingered longingly over the graphite drawing pencils and watercolor pencils of every hue…then I snapped out of it and got out of there as quickly as I could before I got sucked into other departments.

Here’s one exceptionally good thing.  By far, this little adventure had the cheapest start-up costs of any hobby to date.  Five bucks.  I can live with that.  Second good thing?  It doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming.  I’m just pencil sketching. I can spend as much or as little time as I want.

I’m still analyzing why this feels like something I need to do.  I’ve never drawn anything I considered competent.  I’ve always admired those who have a talent for drawing.   And maybe that’s enough.  It’s a skill I admire.  I’m not going to try to do it daily.  My goal is at least one bankable sketch per week.  I think it’s going to be fun, and I’ll keep you posted!

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I’m loving this!

I have a recent quasi-obsession with Snapseed.  I don’t know how many of you utilize a photo app, but I love this one!  It’s so simple to use. Everything is done with the swipe of a finger.  I never really utilized the camera on my iphone until I started using it, and now I’m using it all the time.  Let’s take a look!

Here’s a photo, unaltered, that I took with my iphone last week.  I was on my way home and the clouds were amazing.  I pulled over and took this….

Pretty right?  Nice, but let’s see what Snapseed can do.  First I use the “Automatic” function to clean up the pic.

Wow, sweet!  How about black and white?

Nifty! Vintage?

 

Neat…..And now my favorite-Drama…

 

You can crop, color correct and straighten. Too fun, people!

 

 

 

General · I'm loving this!

Peace, Love, Spa…

The last two months have been nutty!  Too much and too little!  As in too much to do, too little time to do it in. (sorry about ending with a preposition….sometimes one has to let the grammar thing go just a little)  I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, however.  So I’m back! Set the pigeons loose!

My sweet baby angel girl turned eleven Saturday.  It was a big day.  We invited our two BFF’s over and themed the weekend, “Peace, Love, Spa!”.  We even made t-shirts.  Our logo was rocking, but our iron on t-shirt transfer let us down…boo….

The t-shirts were just the tip of the iceburg, however.  It was a tween dream at my house this weekend.  We had Beauty Buckets

We did an array of facial treatments including a cucumber, green tea, avocado mush that we whipped up in the blender.

We had an assortment of fascinating reading material….We’re officially current on our horoscope, fashion, teen celebrity gossip and an assortment of quizzes.

We made a sugar scrub that was delightful if I do say so myself.  I used a modified version of this recipe that I found on Pinterest.  My modifications were pretty simple.  I used colored sugar sprinkles to make the pretty colors and flavored extracts instead of essential oils.  I also used a coconut oil that wasn’t super-refined, so the girls wound up with coconut-orange-vanilla sugar body scrub.   Baby soft skin ?  You betcha!

The next morning, bright and early, we headed to the Nail Salon for mani/pedi’s.  (Mom even got a pedicure! Magic hands…that’s all I’m saying.)

Nope.  No spoiled little girls at my house.  Just soft, pampered tootsies. Zebra striped tootsies to be more specific.

Zebra striped tootsies and an ice cream cake!  Does it get any better than this?

I'm loving this! · Sewing

The Right Tool for the Right Job

I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s the philosophy that led to the purchase of my Chi flat iron, and instigated my quest for a Dyson.  It’s more than marketing, it’s an irrefutable reality.  The right tool for the right job really does make a tremendous difference.

As I’ve stated previously, I’m in the middle of a Sewing “Do Over”.  I’ve been dedicated in my pursuit of basic sewing competency.  And truthfully, it’s been incredibly frustrating.  It’s like I’ve taken the whole concept of “do over” literally.  I’ve had to do the same tasks over and over.

Several years ago when I began my sewing quest, I purchased the best machine I felt I could afford.  I researched a little, and one Sunday night at 9pm, I went to Walmart and purchased a Singer Fashion Mate 7256.  It was packed with features and I paid $199.00 for it.

It seemed fine.  I’ve been so challenged as a seamstress that the equipment seemed like a superfluous concern.  Then one day, it broke.  I took it to the local sewing machine repairman and he fixed it quickly and cheaply.  He was a very nice man and explained the repair he had made on the machine.  As it turned out,  he had worked for Singer for thirty years and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Singer product history. He explained to me that the machines now have plastic internal components and that both their durability and functionality are not what they once were.  He had repaired my machine by replacing one of these plastic components-one with a track record of breaking with routine use.  Bummer.  My nearly new machine broke because I used it. From that day forward, the blush was off the rose.

Suddenly, I noticed that my machine would not cleanly back stitch.  Every seam would begin and end in a bit of a snarl. And sewing through multiple thicknesses?  Forget it. It would sputter and stall.  I began to wonder, what if I’m not the only problematic variable in this sewing equation?   What if the machine is making sewing harder than it has to be?

Before I knew it, I was casting surreptitious glances at other machines.  I would linger after my daughter’s sewing camp, asking questions of the staff at my local sewing machine dealer. I began to haunt craigslist and ebay, researching machines all the while. I decided that I had made a key error with my initial purchase.  I had gone for maximum “features” rather than maximum “function”.  I began to focus exclusively on the big three (Bernina, Pfaff, Viking Husquvarna) and exclusively on mechanical machines. By the time I was finished, I almost had myself convinced to go “new” and purchase a new mechanical sewing machine outright.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.  Until this sewing “do over” results in some sewing skills, paying retail is just not an option. So I returned to ebay, and with a little time and a little patience, successfully bid for and won a Pfaff in my cheap-o price range.

Ta-da! The Pfaff Hobby 1042.  The current generation equivalent is an 1142, but here’s the deal, I don’t care.  I purchased this machine, had it serviced, and bought half a dozen additional, special-function presser feet for about the same price I paid for my Singer.

Back stitching?…Fabulous, no problem….Multiple thicknesses of fabric?…Super.

Suddenly, sewing is a little a easier.  My “do over” is a little more do-able.

Seventy stitches?  Nope.  Not even close.

But it has a good assortment, including stretch stitches and a one-step buttonhole.  So let me sum up by re-stating…The Right Tool for the Right Job.  Sweet!

Crochet · I'm loving this!

Nothing Short of Miraculous!

I’ve been crocheting for about four years now, and I’ve been fairly prolific.  I’ve started and finished a lot of projects, and if you do the math, that nets out to lots and lots of ends that I’ve woven to complete those projects

I’ve also been a student of the craft.  I’ve read voraciously, and studied all of the information I could assimilate with a single-minded focus.  So when I say that there’s not really a lot of information out there on how to weave ends, I feel pretty comfortable with that statement.

People may tell you to leave an “ample” end to weave.  They might even give some direction on methodology, but never once have I seen or read anything that recommended a “tool” as superior to others in the end-weaving game.

You can just imagine my surprise, when lo and behold, I found one! And this find is truly…yes, truly….wait for it…Nothing Less Than Miraculous!  And simple..it’s so freaking simple!  And maybe everyone in the world knows it, but I didn’t!

It’s the composition of the needle!  For four years I’ve been using these

That’s right, the good old $1.99 a pack plastic yarn needles.  I’ve gone through packs of them.  I lose them like you lose pens.  They’re functional, sometimes come in cute colors, and that’s about all you can say about them.

Then last week, out of the blue, I bought these

They’re steel! Cold, smooth steel! The now forever sub-standard plastic needles utz their way through the yarn.  (Utz is a non-scientific term for sallying forth in a manner that is not awesome)  These chrome beauties, however, slice through the yarn, rendering the act of end-weaving mere child’s play.

Why didn’t anyone tell me?  They’re phenomenal! And they’ve been here all long! Behold….Awesomeness!