Monday, November 16, 2009

Shiny, Quilty Jewelry

As you may have noticed from the blog, I've been working on quilting much more than I've been working on jewelry.

Part of this is due to the fact that I've been participating in my local quilt guild as web manager, but also part of it is due to the feeling that I am actually moving forward on many of my projects.

Have no fear, however! No matter how many projects I finish, I find I seem to start almost as many, so the project list doesn't get any shorter (although it does have different projects.)

This quilt is one of my "new-ish" quilting projects. It came from our box block exchange project last year. My only criteria for fabric choice was "no blue", because, silly-ly enough, I wanted a challenge in putting it together. Finally I decided on this chevron sashing, but is it too much? Does it distract from the blocks, or does it unify the whole thing? Anyone who has an opinion on it, please let me know!

I got a bit of a shock last week went one of my most consistent customers said "of course, I'll be up to look at the new jewelry at Thanksgiving."

And, of course, while there's some, there's not as much as I'd like, so I've been working on some new stuff (although probably not for her! Luckily, she didn't get to see the new Spring stuff when we did our fundraiser, so even though we've been slow at creating new pieces over the summer, there are pieces I'm sure she'll like.)

However, May 2010, my quilt guild is having a show, and they're allowing members to sell stuff on consignment. Well, I could never make my living out of quilting (I'm waaaaay too slow!) but I thought I'd develop some quilty jewelry. These will be pendants when they grow up, and they'll be put on kumihimo necklaces. I have some other ideas for earrings that will be so cute, I think I'll save them until after New Years.

I'm hoping with a couple of good nights sleep and some productive days, I should be able to start the photography for the web site and for the etsy shop both of which have suffered from my pre-occupation with quilting.

So sayonara for now!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Women's Work is Never Done

I had meant to write last week when the excellent talk by Gerald Roy called "Women's Work is Never Done" was presented at the monthly Quilt Guild meeting.

I thought the title of the talk was appropriate since the majority of the pieces discussed were quilt tops (as opposed to finished, It was fascinating, and I wish I could include here some of what was shown at the meeting, but I think that wouldn't be kosher (if you're a member of the Chelmsford Quilt Guild, and you've joined the private Yahoo! Group, Jeff uploaded the shots he took at the meeting. If you're not, you'll just have to go to one of Gerald Roy's talks in person and see.)

One of the most interesting things that came up during the talk were a couple of REASONS for quilt tops not being completed. One was that the maker deliberately kept the top undone to preserve it. Another was that she (the maker) felt she would be criticized for being too daring with the color, or design, and so put it away when she finished piecing.

I figure both of these are great excuses to use when I'm asked about the (now) 20 unfinished quilts I have going. And I was just starting to feel guilty about those, too.

Speaking of unfinished quilting projects, I have another new one. I like making the block of the month for my quilt guild, but sometimes I don't even put my name in so there's no way I will have a chance at having another UFO. Well, eagle-eyed Opal wouldn't let me get away with that this month, and, as luck would have it, I won 12 of them (the one pictured is the one I made...I didn't get it back.)

They came out darn cute, but soooo not me. I guess I'll have to let them sit in a box for a bit until either they become more "me-ish" or until I need a quilt for someone who is not me.

As for the jewelry end...

I haven't done much in the creation side. I've rather been taken over with the Guild's web site. However, I have now fixed Piece by Piece's web site so it no longer redirects to the Chelmsford Quilt Guild. Now all I have to do is start photographing the recent pieces and start listing again on etsy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scarcely No. 8 and 20 gauge Kumi

After a summer of trying to get quilting projects done, I decided to start working on my kumi projects again.  

As I may have noted before, started out I using cotton embroidery floss to make most of my braids.  However, I have collected several nice colors of silk and some lovely bamboo threads, so I thought I'd gear up to work with them by switching to perle cotton.

Now, I first worked with perle cotton when I moved to the marudai, and I didn't like it because it had a twist.   However, it turns out that THAT was no. 5 perle. After a couple people on the kumi2 mailinglist recommended No. 8 (which, like larger numbers of wire, is thinner), I thought I'd try that. It is still twisted, but you can use multiple threads to give an appearance similar to kumihimo silk (although not nearly as thin as that!)

The fun thing is that compared to embroidery floss, No. 8 perle works up fast because the scale is so much larger. When I talk about 3-4 strands of embroidery floss, I mean, you take the 6-strand length apart and use 4 of of's TEENSY!  On the other hand, four strands of No. 8 perle cotton I can see without my glasses, thus making any problems with the braid really obvious early on.

The big problem for me about No. 8, at least in my neck of the woods, is that it seems to come in white, ecru, off-white, eggshell, light tan, light ecru... well, you get it, not many colors at all.   When I came across some in actually non-white colors unexpectedly, I bought all I could, which included red, blue and black (and white, but no ecru :>)

But other than playing with No. 8 perle (which someone described as "shimmery" but I didn't get that effect) I started noodling around with some 20 gauge copper wire.

I've wanted to play with kumi and wire, but I had so many more projects I wanted to try first that I never actually gave it a shot. When I found some pre-cut  scrap wire, I decided to try a very simple 4 strand braid.

Unbeknownst to me (at that point), very thin wire is recommended for kumi with wire, and then it behaves a bit like thread. Using a bigger wire, means that I did not need the Marudai OR the disk/plate. This is okay if you're only using 4 strands, but I think I'd like some references if I work with more strands.

For my next experiment, I have cut 8 strands 22g colored copper wire, but I still need to contemplate how to kumi without the disk or marudai but still with some reference.

More later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life Gets You When You Can Least Handle It

Well, I apologise for not keeping up my blog. It's been more effort to paint my life in a positive light that I could handle for a while. Yes, it's true. Life has been bad...and not-so-good.

One to of the "bad" spots is the death of my Aunt Madge. She was who I always wished I could grow up to be. Smart, compassionate, full of faith and energy, world-traveller. She was who my family always turned to when we felt overwhelmed with medical stuff since she had been a career Navy nurse. She died of cancer last month.

Towards the end I was trying to write her every week since the cancer was pressing on her diaphragm and it made talking on the phone difficult. So even though *I* wanted to hear *her*, it was all I could do to make sure she had something not depressing to think about come in the mail every week or so. I felt helpless, and in the end, I knew that was all I could do, so I kept writing.

There, not here.

I lost hours on my PCA job, so even though the PCAs in MA got a raise, it translated to a wage cut for me. I've had a hard time cutting my living expenses (there's literally nothing left to cut), so I tried to throw myself into cutting other stuff from my life.

The good part of that is that I've been able to finish a bunch of quilting projects, like the Jane Stickle quilt with the double sized blocks called "Bright New Day" (at the top of the post), the Arrowhead Quilt (which ended up as a surprise gift for my brother, and Pasta e Faglioli (below, which went to my mother.)

Oh course, more bad news is that now Blue Cross/Blue Shield has raised my monthly premium, I have to apply to the state to get coverage...I simply cannot find $60 more per month to pay them.

This means, of course, officially admitting that I am poor, a blow to my ego. However, the bright spot is that my memory is so bad that I suspect I will soon forget that I am poor again and go on as before, scrimping and saving and thinking fond thoughts of solidarity with people living through the Great Depression.

Just so you don't think I have been one huge quivering mass of pitiful these past six months, one of the good things that has happened is that I have taken over my guild's web site (a good challenge always makes me feel less pathetic...or should I say apathetic.)  I spent the summer redesigning and recoding it, and it's been up at full tilt for the past month or so. I moved it from its old host to one with more "bells and whistles" so, I hope I can implement some of those starting in the new year.

As for the jewelry, we did well on our Spring Sale, but I haven't been able to put my mind and hands together to create much new stuff. I am hoping to photograph some of the pieces I made just before and after the Spring Sale and put them on our site and on etsy, but my creativity in photographing the pieces has been languishing. I have a couple of nice copper kumihimo bracelets, and a new assortment of silk and ribbon kumihimo necklaces, but nothing earth-shattering.

So, that's my last half-year. I will try and update my blog more often, but the problem with Depression is that Prozac really only takes the edges off, and sometimes you find yourself just hiding under the covers for the day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Projects and Travel Plans

We had snow. I can't believe it. I thought we were done with the snow.  Maybe this time it's the last gasp, 'cause I'm totally over it.

OK, it's official. I'm going to NYC. In the middle of taxes, prepping for the Jewelry Sale, and God knows what else, I'm hopping a bus from Beantown and spending 3 days in the Big Apple. And, forget about doing the taxes or getting the car inspected (I know I have.)

This is the trip I was supposed to take in September but which I postponed because my apartment was flooded. I won't get to see a lecture by (Tada) Makiko-sensei. I am, however, planning on checking out the Japan Society, which supposedly has a nice museum and a store. (AND an exhibit on anime/ other Japanese interest.) Other than that, I'm on the prowl for fabric and jewelry-making stuff, which looks like it's all within blocks of each other so If I'm correct, I won't have too much walking (who am I kidding?) 

Other than that, my mind has been on the jewelry sale. I'm testing new findings and glue for the kumi necklaces. I thought what I was doing was working, but I got some interesting new fold-over clasps which should look great attached to a flat braid. Unfortunately, the actual area that's touching the braid seems to slide off no matter which glue I'm using. So, I've taken out all 12 (no, that's not an exaggeration!) of the glues I have accumulated and I'm conducting tests.

I've finished the original Kotoji expansion test. Well, the first phase anyway.  The 16-strand Kotoji braid (from one of Makiko-sensei's books) is on the top, the expanding to 3 colors and 24 strands is in the middle, and the 32 (back to 2 colors) is on the bottom.

I've decided I want to try a couple more variations in this braid, starting with a two color 24 strand variation and a flat 32-strand variation. If I had more tama, I would probably try a square version of the middle (24-strand) braid, but I'm putting these all off until after the show.

When I get back, I'll probably have lots to blog about, and maybe I'll even remember to show the pictures of what I did with the wooden spools I'm using as tama...they came out so cute!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jewelry Sale and Fundraiser for Peggy

Whew! I finally got a chance to blog this month.

We've set the date for our jewelry sale to raise money for Peggy's WalkAide. It will be April 5 (Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter), in West Newton, Mass. Send me mail if you haven't gotten your postcard by the middle of March.

Speaking of the postcard, it came out great. I put the Flint Stone pendant with the kumihimo necklace and sterling findings as the main photo.

The other images are older pieces, one of which has been on my etsy site.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow we're going to pick up Peg's WalkAide. Other than that, I'm working on displays for the show, and I'll be in NYC in a couple of weeks to see my friend Katie and go to The Pier antiques show. Maybe I'll see someone famous!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bit by Bit

I am overwhelmed.

Late last month (and early this one), I made a list of all the things I must (actually should) do ASAP. You know, projects I've started that I want to finish, web sites that I'm supposed to maintain that have not been touched in years...that sort of thing.

I feel like I have no energy, no space and no time to do what needs to be done.

Every time I contemplate that list, I feel like taking a nap and not waking up until the next day.

So, I have developed a strategy for dealing with the (at least half dozen) projects which need attention: work on them bit by bit, break them down into manageable pieces.

For instance, I haven't updated my "home" web site since 2005! Up until that point, I had been trying to put everything I was into and all my favorite links, etc on that site. 

It had the oldest version of the Piece by Piece site as my jewelry page, with pieces long since sold or taken apart and remade. It had my flying page, when I haven't been able to afford to fly in over 8 years. It had links to projects from classes I took over 5 years ago.  

Needless to day, it needed to be cleaned up!

What prompted my contemplation of my sites is that I'm looking for a place to post the new quilt block directions which I have decided to write once a month.

My first thought was to post them on my Dear Jane site, but I have been planning on reorganizing and recoding that site longer than my home site and it's in much worse shape (although probably a better place for handling alot of web traffic.)

Then, there's the Rafael Sabatini site, updated every January to a greater or lesser extent.

Then, there's the several dozen quilt projects, jewelry projects, chores, etc that need to get done.

The only way I can do them, I have found is to schedule myself to work on 5 Rafael Sabatini pages per day, 3 Dear Jane pages per day, 5 quilt blocks per day, 3 chores per day, etc. If I get MORE than that done, great, but that's the minimum.

It seems to be working for now, though the results are mixed.  My home site is mostly cleaned up (except for my resume.) And I have come up with new templates for Dear Jane and the parts of Sabatini that were not redesigned last year.

I finished my sister's half of the DNA project except for one final border and the embroidery.

I have time to work on my kumihimo (although not as much as before, since I'm scheduling time to work on these other projects as well) and my jewelry, which is good since we're looking at scheduling a jewelry sale/fund raiser for Peg in the spring.

And I can now actually think of things like SCHEDULING and ORGANIZING the jewelry fundraiser (and, oh joy, gathering and updating things for my taxes) without also looking longingly for the bottle of No-Doz.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No More Whining

OK, so we're done with the holidays and it's a new year. I've decided to make up a list of things I want to accomplish this year. I'm not calling them "New Years Resolutions" because that, to me, is the kiss of death. None of my New Years Resolutions seem to last past January (except the ones that come back to haunt me in unpleasant ways in the future.)

After an orgy of complaining, venting,"pointing out" and, yes, whining, I have decided to whine no more. I will not whine about the fact that every time maintenance came in to fix something, they forgot to fix ALL the things listed in the maintenance request.

Or, the fact that there seems to be a new definition for shovelling out the front steps of the building which means that more than 24 hours after the end of the snow storm (you know, the deadline they give you for cleaning off your car or it will towed), there's still snow all over the steps. (No whining about the new decision by the building's corporate management about using sand instead of salt, either.) Peggy must go out: I must shovel. Complaining doesn't seem to help. End of discussion.

On a more positive note: projects for next year include writing directions for at least one quilting block each month, like the mouse block I did in December (I'm not yet sure where I will post them). The blocks will probably be in the public domain (i.e. traditional) so I can concentrate on writing directions instead of tracking down the copyright holders (a neat trick since the copyrights of quilt blocks are really hard to pin down.)

I will, eventually, update the code and information on all my web sites, starting with The Life and Work of Rafael Sabatini. As you know, if you've been reading my blog, my partner in this enterprise (upon whose research the site is based) died in December. I only got through about half the design update last year before things got in the way, so this year, I will definitely finish it and fix all the links which were accidentally left broken.

Other pages include my home page (which hasn't been touched in, probably, 3 years, other than to update my resume) and a complete revamping of the photography on the Piece by Piece Jewelry site. I will probably move my Dear Jane journal site to my home page during it's badly needed recoding update.

Whew. And that's just the online list. I have other projects which include learning how to make t0fu that tastes good and doesn't have the consistency of slime....but maybe that's a topic for another day.