Friday, August 17, 2007

eye candy friday -- a tale of skoof booty

Every now and again I like to buy a random box of stuff on eBay. Not so random that it could contain a human head or a stash of illegal contraband, but random under a category that interests me. Like, once I bought a box of old knitting stuff. I was so green at knitting that I hadn't used circular needles yet. Probably I didn't even own a Knit Chek. I'm sure my stash contained about 4 balls of yarn and could fit in a bowl on my desk. But something about a humongous supply of mysterious knitting related instruments and paraphernalia was irresistible to me. I managed the winning bid, waited a good amount of time, and, finally, the day of delivery came. The box contained: so. much. stuff. DPNs, circular needles, straight needles (plastic, aluminum, bamboo), needle gauges, darning needles, a giant u-shaped thing that I still have no idea what to do with, stitch markers, crochet hooks, stitch holders, on and on. Some of the things were more usable than others, but it was all kinds of fun dumping the box and putting things in piles and seeing what there was. It'd been impossible to see everything in the auction photo. I bought the lot from a seller named "skoof," who is still active, and took to referring to it as my skoof booty. Let me tell you, the skoof booty has come in handy in the two years I've had it. I'm forever finding some necessary doodad, perfect for the project at hand.

A couple months back I was on eBay, waiting to snipe some thing or other, when I realized I could likely find the sewing equivalent of my skoof booty. After a few minutes -- that's all it took because, as we all know, there is every little thing in the world on eBay -- there it was, listed as Vintage Lot Sewing Items Cotton Threads, Trims, Buttons. A ton of randomness, late in the game, going for a reasonable price, no bidders. Right up my alley. So of course I forgot to bid on it. I noticed, however, that no one had shown any interest in the stuff. I e-mailed the seller, buckx5, and asked if she/he would be relisting. In return I got an e-mail saying Make me an offer. I did. A nice cheapo one (I kinda ate it on shipping, the box weighed 20 pounds). buckx5 accepted, adding, I just want it all out of my house! Now it resides in my home, and I am giddy to know it.

The photos are of the lovely silk thread that came in the box. Having only taken a brusque look in the package when it arrived, I discovered the thread today while looking for seam binding to hem the skirt I'm working on. I found a passel of seam binding, bias tape, twill tape, and hem facing. Lots of useful things. I think this box has rightly earned the title "skoof booty II."

Monday, August 13, 2007

enough about me. let's talk about you....

....What do you think of me?

Blogs are nothing if not a me-a-thon. This is a fact I happen to enjoy immensely. People writing about their lives. Sharing pictures of things they've created, things they love, things they covet.

When you write certain posts, though, don't you feel particularly you-centric? I do.

There's no fighting it. Here goes.

And so I whipped through last week in a frenzy of gift making and job application. The application was for a job I'd really love to get, so I won't say anything more about it unless I get it. I will say, though, that my entire life would change if I got this job, and in a good way. If you've got a second, please send me some good energy (do voodoo if you know it) so that I can get an interview.

The gift making? Fun, but definitely harried in the face of the job hunt and the daily grind. I usually reserve bigger projects for weekends but last week I had to make up for the time my machine was in the shop. I got it back a week ago Saturday and it's been humming ever since. We're like teenagers, me and my machine, teenagers in love.

I used it to finish these tea towels/napkins I embroidered for Valecia:

I love Black Americana and so does V. The project was fun to make and even more fun to give. I read somewhere that it's classy to present a store bought item along with a handmade gift and nobody's ever had to tell me twice. I went to Whole Foods for something kitcheny to go with V's gift and found this handy and cute Mrs. Meyers four pack. I'm not a fan of icky embroidered backs so I used some of my schmancy Japanese duck cloth to beautify them.

A lovely combo, yes?

The day after I finished and gave V her gift I finished Ellen's gift in time to give it to her at SnB. This is what I was working on for her when Brother went on the fritz:

Another tote (no point in tiring of them, you'll be seeing many more). This one is reversible. Ever since I saw the rumba dancer in Sublime Stitching I knew I had to make her. I was just waiting for that special someone to stitch her for and who better than Ellen? I didn't get a picture of the other side of the bag, but Ellen did. Check out her blog to see (and to read a fun post on her tote collection). I figured she can flip the bag inside out when she isn't in the mood to sport a dancing girl around town.

Now that I've finished presents for these two dear friends, I'm officially declaring August and September no gift months. I'm only making things for myself and my shop. I have to lay down the law and get tough with myself or I'll forever stay dreaming of learning how to design and fit my own clothes. Under this new decree, I finally made me a tote bag. Here I am dorkily displaying it while Ellen graces:

I was on someone's blog, saw the image of Angela Davis, and remembered I'd downloaded it a while ago. I love its aesthetic, its powerful iconography. It think its graphic nature works well on this bag. Plus, I love me some Angela Davis.

Although I've been carrying it everywhere, I made the bag to take books to and from the library. My neighborhood branch is about a 20 minute walk from my apartment. Perfect for exercise and clearing the mind. I needed the right tote for my haul and this one fits the bill exactly. Because I intended it for the library, I embroidered "Words Never Fail Me" on the back. I think, though, that these words will prove to have more meaning in my life than I currently know.

Since this is a me-a-thon (and possibly the world's longest post), I'll go on.

Look who arrived over the weekend:

Man, it is no wonder people were smarter 50 years ago. (I'm kidding. A little.) Threading Brother is a two second whip-up. Rosie, however, takes thought. I know, I'll get used to it. Yesterday I did a bit of sewing on her. I couldn't be a normal person and make a sachet or another tea towel. I had to go for the gusto and try to make a skirt. Mind you, I've only made one skirt and that was in sewing class (Natalie says I should count my jeans-to-skirt recon but I think that's cheating). I've already mentioned my inability to read instructions so you can imagine what a black hole I propelled myself into with a 50 year old machine (for which I only had a blurry download as a manual) and a sewing pattern with detailed directions I didn't have the patience to read. The biggest thing I learned was to put a time limit on how long I'll stay in the black hole before jumping out and doing something else. Like knitting, something I know how to do.

I also learned that gorgeous Rosie needs a tune-up, which was to be expected. I'll take her to the same shop that fixed Brother this Friday. (Don't you just love it when people personify machines? In my defense, Brother is not only my first sewing machine's brand, it's also my uncle's nickname. Rosie is my maternal grandmother. I name nearly everything after her. Both my uncle and my grandmother died years ago and it feels good to remember them this way. I don't know why I'm telling you this. Oh yeah -- ME-A-THON.)

I am lucky Rosie wasn't damaged. I can't say the seller packed her very well. (Newspaper?) He didn't do the basic thing that any thinking person would do and unscrew the spool pin before setting the machine in the case. The result was this:

Damage to an otherwise pristine case. I hate to see something so old, something that survived intact so long, jacked up for no good reason. To his credit, the seller has agreed to pay for repair. This is provided I can find someone to do it. I'm thinking I'll take it to a shoe repair shop. Anyone know any good ones in the LA area?

That's no fun. Let's end on a brighter note:

Finally. The end of this me-fest. I'm going to bed. I can't take any more me tonight.

Friday, August 03, 2007

a day at the beach, or, rather, pond

Today I spent scads of time at the pond. I don't work on Fridays, which is a prime reason I've been able to stay at my job as long as I have. Because I have it off, Friday is my favorite day of the week. On Thursdays, I love walking around work declaring "Thank God it's Friday" and "Thursday is the new Friday" knowing my real Friday will be scrumptious and free. Like a really good make-up bonus when you buy a tube of lipstick. It's a little insensitive, I suppose, since only the instructors get the day off and I often sing my Thursday/Friday song in the presence of office assistants and staff members. I do it because, to my way of thinking, things even out. They do not have to deal with students stopping them in the hallway and e-mailing them 24/7 to ask them to repeat something they said 25 times during class. Who am I kidding? It's not an even exchange. Nothing's as hot as work free Fridays. Nothing in the world.

Generally my Friday plans include sleeping in, which almost never happens, writing, which happens only sometimes, and paying bills/handling financial matters (well). Once all that's done, it's craft time, best time o' the day. What usually takes place is that, because I don't have to work, I experience an acute feeling of being lost, like it's my first day as a blind person and somebody moved my stuff around. I stumble around in the dark for a few hours, then resolve not to waste the day. Not wasting the day ends up meaning only one thing: making things.

The weather was so gorgeous today that it seemed a crying shame to stay indoors so I took a project over to the pond. I topped myself, really I did. I actually managed to relax and soak up the day. I tend to feel a bit tortured by spare time. Don't get me wrong, I am meant to be a woman of leisure, a lady who lunches, but as this is not my current lot, I feel I am always supposed to be doing one thing or another. I perpetually feel like I'm forgetting to be somewhere, like I'm running late for some Big Life Thing.

Preparing for a stay at the pond is a funny process. I think of going, think of how much I love being there and experiencing the perfection of nature, resolve to go. Then I start packing, which induces the following chain of thoughts:

Nature. That's right. Gotta love nature. Makes me feel so... natural. Let's see -- do I have my camera? Camera. Check. Might be some good nature to photograph. The turtles might be mating or something. The camera is a must have. Now, what if I get a phone call while I'm taking in all this nature? Cell phone? Where the hell is my cell phone? Is it charged? Probably not because I never want people calling me. But I just might need it while I'm out in nature, a full four blocks from home. Found it. One bar. Good enough. Check. Alrighty then. I'm out the door. Ah, the calming sounds of nature. A balm to my soul. That reminds me. Do I have my MP3 player? What in the world do I need it for? The pond's got a waterfall. Very soothing. Why don't I listen to that? No way. The pond don't play Aretha. It don't sound funky like Erykah Badu. Better take that MP3 player. Plus I won't be the only person out in this nature. This is the city, after all. People will be there shouting at their toddlers to stop trying to scoop the turtles out of the pond. Maybe only one or two and only for a couple of minutes, but still. MP3 player. Check.

By the time I get there I'm laden with every creature comfort but a TV set.

In between snapping pictures, talking on my cell and listening to music, I did some stitching.

I'm kidding about all the snapping and talking. I only took a few shots and briefly talked to Bubs. After awhile I did listen to music but it only added to the experience. I hadn't used my MP3 player in a good while. Every song was a pleasant surprise because I hadn't remembered what all I'd put on it. I stitched, listened, watched, daydreamed, enjoyed. And I could still hear the sweet sound of the waterfall.

eye candy friday -- song of clapotis

I made the ubiquitous Clapotis many moons ago. It's one of those projects that I forget how much I adore until it tumbles out of my overcrowded closet and I decide to bring it along in case of chill. As today moved into tonight and the temperature dropped in typical Cali fashion, I wrapped it around me and finally realized how stylin' it is. If there's anyone left out there who hasn't made it and has resisted in order to buck the trend, Go ahead. Knit yourself one. One fine day you'll be glad you did.