Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Knitted Envelope Bag

Not long ago I started knitting a scarf using a knit and purl pattern that created a sort of textured rib. It wasn’t a particularly difficult pattern, but I got about 5 inches deep into the scarf and realized that I wasn’t feeling it; the pattern was fine, but I didn’t love it enough to finish it. So I bound it off and was left with a rectangle of about 5½ inches by 7½ inches (which then sat around purposelessly for some time).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Care

When I buy fabric, I’ll generally find a quiet corner in the store and whip out my notebook so I can take note of the name of the fabric, fiber content and care directions (assuming it’s all written on the bolt). Plus I’ll often write a little helpful description of the fabric itself (e.g. pink with gray lines) to help me distinguish between similar fabrics I may have. I also try to jot down of the number of yards I’ve purchased as well as price per yard (this helps me to keep track of what fabric I should practice on and what fabric I’m saving for when I’m a better sewer).

It’s been about a year and a half since I first impulsively bought fabric and decided to start sewing, and since then I’ve bought quite a bit of fabric (and generally with no actual plan for it at the time of purchase). I know I don’t need a vast majority of the fabrics I buy, but they’re often on sale for a fairly cheap price and I just want it.

The other week I finally decided to get somewhat organized and decided to make a spreadsheet of all the fabric I’ve purchased. [That sounds really nerdy. (Pause.) Okay it is nerdy. (Sigh.)]. But I kept on having to check the chicken-scratch markings in my notebook, trying to find the fabric care of a specific fabric, and I thought there should be an easier way to have my information organized. A spreadsheet seemed like the logical thing to make.

So my spreadsheet has all the same information found in my notebook, but also with an extra column of whether or not the fabric was used for anything (e.g. pencil skirt, pleated skirt, etc.). It was actually a lengthy process to fill out my spreadsheet and I was shocked (well, not really shocked, more like dismayed) to find out that I’d bought over 50 different fabrics. Now some fabrics I’d bought a good amount of yardage while others were just remnants, but still, that’s a lot of fabric. How many years will it take for me to actually use it all (since making a single garment takes days for me to sew and I don’t sew super frequently)? I know this spreadsheet should help deter me from getting more fabric, and it might…for a while, but then I know I won’t be able to resist the urge to buy more fabric. It’s a problem. [Pause.] I know. [Sigh.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Slightly Off

While at times disorientating and confusing, one of the things that never ceased to amaze me in Japan was the strange English that would be used on: T-shirts, stationary, menus, signs, food packaging, magazines, advertisements and well, on anything really. Whether misspelled, grammatically incorrect, nonsensical or just plain awkward, it was usually a welcome surprise to see English used in such odd and unexpected ways.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gear Up Earrings

When I took apart my watches from my Jar of Junk and realized how tiny all the parts were, I decided to buy some larger gears to use for making jewelry. I still may be able to use the tiny gears from my watches in some way, but for my purposes I wanted gears large enough that you could actually tell that they were gears. With my purchased bag of gears and other watch parts, I decided to make earrings using some of the larger gears.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

These Shoes Aren’t Meant for Walking

Like a vast majority of women, I love shoes. The right pair of shoes can help make or break an outfit, and depending on the chosen shoes, it can transform any outfit to being more dressy or causal. The shear number of shoe options can be overwhelming: flats, pumps, platforms, wedges, sandals and boots. But despite the array of shoe options, I find it difficult to find what I want (mostly because of a lack of practicality). I love a pair of heels, but I want them to be not only cute, but also something I can actually walk in. I don’t think I’m asking for the impossible, yet usually the shorter heels look too matronly to me, while the taller heels are often times just shy of stripper shoes.

I know tall heels make your legs look longer and slimmer, but I don’t want to break one of my legs merely because I chose to walk in too-tall heels. I may be vain, but I’m not that vain. So it always disappoints me when I’m at a store and see a cute pair of shoes from a distance, only to come closer and see that the heel is higher than I want. I usually don’t even bother trying them on because what’s the point? I don’t want to fall in love with a pair of heels that I’ll never wear.

[Pause.] There have been several times that my vanity got the better of me and lead me to buying heels that were 4 inches high (which tends to be my maximum height limit). And really, those shoe purchases have been a waste of money as I hardly ever wear them because they take too much effort to wear. I have to actually concentrate to walk in them, and I can’t really walk far or drive in them, so if I decide to wear them I have to also have flats with me to be my walking and driving shoes. Once I reach my final destination I can switch from my comfortable flats to my cute too-tall heels. [Sigh.] It’s just silly to have shoes that are just meant for sitting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think Less. Sleep More.

Sleep is awesome. A good night’s rest can invigorate you and help start your day off feeling refreshed. Yet sometimes sleep is an elusive goal. Every so often I’ll have trouble falling asleep; it’s usually because I feel anxious or excited about something I have to do or a new project I’m working on. My brain doesn’t want to turn off and I can’t help but think thoughts that distract me from sleep.

There’s a time and place for everything, and while problem-solving thoughts do need to be processed, I know that bedtime is not the time to be doing it. But sometimes I can’t help myself and then I have to actively try and stop my thinking; I’ll tell myself, “Figure it out tomorrow. Relax. Go to sleep. Think of nothing.” And of course this thinking perpetuates more thinking, and I’ll tell myself, “Stop thinking. You’re still thinking. Stop thinking already.” It’s a vicious cycle and ultimately a losing battle, as once I start thinking it’s difficult to stop.

So then I have to make myself relax (which sounds like an oxymoron because it is one). If my mind doesn’t want to stop thinking, then I try to think of unimportant things that I don’t care about, like reciting the plot of a movie. Yet sometimes I still can’t fall asleep and then I have that moment (usually an hour or two after my initial attempt to sleep), when I have to decide to either continue to toss and turn and hope for sleep or to wake up and read a book. The smart choice for me is the latter, because reading almost always helps relax me since I’m filling my head with a story and clearing my mind of personal thoughts.

And this is what I did the other night when I couldn’t sleep, and I eventually fell asleep about an hour and a half later than usual. [Half-hearted: yay.] But for whatever reason, I then woke up a good hour before I normally do and couldn’t go back to sleep. This did not start my morning right, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. [Sigh.] The only upside after a poor night’s sleep is hoping that my sleep-deprived state will lead me to falling asleep more quickly the following night. That’s what usually happens. [Pause.] Usually. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Marked Up

Every so often I’ll be reading a book and I’ll notice something wrong with the text, whether a misspelling, incorrect punctuation, or using the wrong word (e.g. “I” instead of “It”). I’m sure any book goes through multiple proofing stages, but with so many words it’s inevitable that not every error is caught. While the overlooked mistake may take me out of the story for a brief second, I then quickly move on without a second thought.

However, some people can’t let it go. It always makes me laugh when I’m reading a book from the library and someone has marked it up with proofreader marks. I can’t help but wonder, was someone reading the book and noticed an error and had to get up and find a pen to correct that mistake, or does that person always read with a pen in hand, ready to catch any and all mistakes? Either way, that person had to care quite a bit to actually do something about it.

I suppose everyone is irked by something and feels the need to fix that something (if possible). I can’t help but notice the design choices that are everywhere (e.g. book covers, food packaging, signage, stationary, ads, menus, etc.). I admit that I’m irked at times with poor typeface choices, a lack of readability, awkward kerning, terrible color palettes or bad photography, and while some of it might be personal preference, much of it is just bad design. If I could, perhaps I would whip out a red pen and mark up the problems I see…but that would be defacing property. [Pause.] I can’t really do that. So all I can really do is just sigh in disapproval and move on (and hopefully get distracted by the shiny pretty delicious design out there instead).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deceptively Cute

I both love and hate shopping for clothing. I love it when I find the perfect item (whether sought out or accidental). When I put on an adorable skirt, slip into a pair of comfortably cute heels or button up a fantastic jacket that looks as though it was tailored-made for me, it puts a smile on my face.

On the other hand, shopping can be incredibly frustrating. When my eyes lock onto a seemingly cute garment and I pick it up only to find that the fabric feels terribly cheap (which is probably my most frequent disappointment). Or I try something on only to find that it fits oddly. Or the great irritation that comes when I have to try on three different sizes to find my “size” (since women’s clothing sizes are quite consistent about being inconsistent, often differing from brand to brand). [Sigh.]