December De-stress If You Can

I won a contest around Halloween, which resulted in my opportunity to get a session with a personal trainer at the gym for half-price. Never mind that I don’t remember entering the contest… I was intrigued, so I accepted the prize.

Yesterday I met with the personal trainer. At the gym where I go, a session with a personal trainer normally costs $70. That’s a lot of money to pay someone who is supposed to help you meet your goals of — just what are your goals, by the way? To lose weight, to become more flexible, to get physically fit? Or do you have to pay someone to carry on a conversation about and act interested in your health, like you do the doctor or physician’s assistant? Because they will make you sign a waiver that says you realize they are not a doctor and that they cannot diagnose anything.

To be honest, I’ve been so busy I don’t remember much of the session. Just that she wanted to see my range of motion so she had me goose-stepping all over the gym in a pair of old workout shoes that had round-bottom soles (remember Shape-ups?) because that’s the only pair of tennis shoes I could find in the closet. Me that morning, trying to get dressed in the dark: “Uh-oh, I’m meeting the personal trainer today, better find some real shoes to wear to yoga class…” and then I couldn’t find a pair of real shoes… Ironic that I found the Shape-up shoes, that temporary fad item: is that what the personal trainer is for me, just another fitness fad to induce me to work out? Whatever it was the personal trainer had me doing Thursday, it’s now Saturday and my sore, stove-up muscles are happy to hide, to cower, far from the gym.

The personal trainer was very impressed with the good state of my joints, which can only be due to years of doing yoga, even though I have arthritis and I’m not as flexible as I was in my younger days.

yoga shorts

selfie in favorite Eco-Flow yoga shorts

Celebrating Cyber Monday score of my favorite yoga shorts on sale. I wish I could replicate this pair of yoga shorts in my own sewing room with the help of some sort of holiday DIY pixie dust.

Reading back over this, I apologize that it sounds so “me, me, me” oriented. But maybe I need to pay attention to myself more often. In this season of shopping, stress, and focus on the materialistic, I hope you find what helps you to feel at peace. What would do that for you? A massage? Get someone to watch the kids while you take a nap? A pair of shorts that are comfy when you’re working out? Give yourself a break.

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Spring holiday hiatus

I just went through a week-long hiatus from doing anything crafty. No sewing, no knitting, no blogging.

What I did do instead, was spend time with people: looking into their eyes and appreciating their sparkle, giving them hugs, holding their hands as we walked together, talking to them and listening back, drawing with them, giving up my iPad and iPhone so they could use it to play a game and draw.

I found an 18-inch doll at the local H-E-B (a grocery store) that was on sale for only $10! I’m happy to think that because of this cool price reduction right before Easter, many girls in Texas got a Texas Girl! You could choose one in a cowboy outfit (that was my first choice, but they were sold out), a Quinceniera dress and tiara, a cheerleader suit with pom poms, a casual outfit, or this soccer gear with shin guards and all.

Texas Girl, in a soccer outfit

Texas girl may possibly have smaller feet than the Target doll I got to use as a model for my doll clothes.

Grayzie and Bob

My cats missed me, but I got to hang out with some other felines. I resumed working on the diagonally knit scarf when I came home; it is knit out of “Flower” from the Plymouth Yarn Italian Collection, a little gift that Ethel got me when Yarnworkshad their big yard sale. Spring-y!

a ring-tailed varmint tried to butt into the pic

Hope you all had happy holidays!

The Faire

In lieu of slaving away at a remnant project, I went to the 26th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire this weekend with my fellow crafty friend.

Faire Programme

We saw sights, bought swag, and enjoyed lots of music, dance, and entertainment.

Entrance to Hoggetowne Faire

I was surprised that the Faire was so well-attended: it took us over an hour after arriving to finally park and ride a shuttle to the grounds. We went in the first weekend of February; it was overcast and about 75 – 80 degrees, the best weather possible. (should we thank Younge Lady La Niña for that?)

First off, at the Gate Theatre, we saw the acrobats of Barely Balanced.

Barely Balanced (and a hapless member of the audience) juggling

Acrobats, actors and comedians all!

Their act was funny, death-defying, and fresh!

soothing harp music

Gypsy Guerilla Band at Royal Theatre

Elephant and Camel rides for sale

A passing glimpse of Him who doth walke among us...? Shiver, shiver

savory clothing

Armaments at The Compleat Knight

Creations in Glass artisan

The Harper and the Minstrel

One of many musical groups and artists roving through the grounds was The Harper and the Minstrel, playing lovely Celtic airs. I also appreciated the local group Musica Vera Consort and the Gypsy Guerilla Band‘s dulcimer and zither.
While making our way up the way, we happened upon a public flogging: a tall, handsome rogue wearing leather and lots of jewelry, assisted by a grizzled little blagguard and another dim-witted bloke, announced the commencement of the punishment by oh-so-softly swishing their cats-o-nine-tails across the ample bumme of a woman tied to a post. As their blows began to get stronger and her shrieks began to get louder, the crowd carried us away so I never did see what happened, whether the flogg-ee was an actress or a volunteer!

Knightly apparel

Make way, royalty coming through

Society for Creative Anachronism armoured combat demo

faire-goers

faire folk

Foole's Corner performance

Weaver

Musica Vera Consort

Ethel and that tall bloke

an audience with the King and Queen of Hoggetowne

Tribal Circus

What Ales him?

Juggling Foole

Fare thee well til next time

For my collection, from Ye Old Wizards & Dragons boothe

Struan Bread

Irish Brown Bread

I must say, the provisions I secured from the House of Douglas Bakery booth were mmmmedievally marvellous. The two loaves of bread were delicious, and very fresh-tasting. They were even better, sliced and toasted, the next day. While at the faire, we traded monies for shortbread in the form of cookies with vanilla icing and a candied cherry for me, and for Ethel, a slab of shortbread the size of a salad bowl filled in the middle with chocolate fudge. Any sort of food (except for fried bread, alas) was to be found here at a booth, amongst the jewelry, fox tails, costumes, leather goods, statuary, drawings, paintings, music CD’s, toys, horned or cat-eared or elf-eared hair-bands, glassware, dyed cloth, metal-works of art, furry animals that sit on your shoulder and nod when you pull their leashes, belly-dancing apparel, kilts, herbs, soap, plants, and all sorts of gewgaws.

It was interesting to look into the eyes of the merchants and the performers, to run one’s hands over their touchable wares before deciding whether to buy, to inhale the sharp aromas of the frying and baking foods or the herbal soaps, to appreciate the guests’ character costumes as they played along and bobbed in the frothy sea of drama! Makes one ponder the things we choose to view for entertainment, whether tonight at the Superbowl half-time show (high-tech rehash of pop hits from decades ago) or a low-tech rehash from a 15th century minstrel group….

Organizing the fibers and crafts for 2012

As the old year passes away this evening, I want to say good-bye to it in a friendly way. Because I’ve been doing creative projects in 2011 and blogging about them, it’s been a fun-filled year! And after today, I will not ever tag a blog post “postaweek2011” again, woot! I’ve seen that WordPress is pointing us toward another bloggimmick, posting about the same thing 365 times this next year, but I don’t think I will jump on that one.

Toward the end of the year, I got a bit slow and didn’t get in a post a week. Last week I did some adjusting to my creative work space and I’m happy with it. In fact, I’m almost afraid to get started, because it took me so long to straighten it up. The biggest changes were prompted by my looking at a copy of Studios magazine, an Interweave publication. I never thought I would be nuts enough to shell out money for a magazine about studios, but I found it quite a bit more interesting than many of the other magazines I mindlessly buy with a foolish trust that I will get my money’s worth.

I decided to take down a couple of shelves’ worth of books that I’ve been keeping in the room, which don’t have a thing to do with sewing or art, and replace them with fabric stacks. I chose only cottons or others suitable for quilting to go on the shelves. This is going to inspire me, hopefully.

fabric stacks

Knits and non-quilting fabrics are in the drawers, so now the drawers are full again, but at least I don’t have an overspill of fabric everywhere!

An example of the hoardity, before reorganization


My DH volunteered to make me some utilitarian shelves, to help organize, and did it ever! I now have a clue as to what I have, and where it might be located!

stuff stashed

Note the coat rack from Lowes, installed on the wall under the bulletin board, which keeps the hoops from jangling around and falling into the lost zone in back of the sewing machines. I also installed a little display frame that was my mom’s, which houses a thimble collection. I relocated my extra sewing machine feet to a clear plastic, lidded box that sits on the sewing desk and hides a large, unsightly, awful burn on its formica surface. Yarn is boxed on the shelves by fiber type and color. I got a new thread caddy and a bobbin thread case, both 40% off at Joann’s, so all my thread is now encased and categorized. Art supplies are stashed. Felted sweaters and blank t-shirts, tubbed. Pillow forms and batting, bagged and boxed. I considered putting a few more pics in, showing the shelves at the top of the room, but you get the idea. And my studio doesn’t exactly look like Hollywood. The feng shui is not perfect; it feels more in tune for Internet surfing and blogging than sewing and creating, at the moment. But I feel more ready to get started in 2012, hoping to do more of what I want to do: art quilting, making cool kids’ clothes, sketching, multi-media things.

Here’s to a bold new year coming, and as for the old one, it was pretty good overall!

Celebrating the Lifeliners’ Return with Remnants!

For this week’s Remnant Redo, I first want to say how much I appreciate our Armed Services, particularly the 101st Sustainment Brigade Lifeliners as they come home now from their past year’s deployment. Can I get a Hoo-rah? And I also want to honor the ladies associated with that brigade! The soldiers, officers, and the wonderful military wives!

So, I made a project that borrows a little motif from the military: camouflage, but in this case, pink. I started weeks ago with a skein of the most soft and comfy-cushy acrylic bulky yarn, made by Hobby Lobby, in the color Pink Camo.

purse body in Pink Camo yarn

I used size 19 needles and just mindlessly did stockinette until I felt like it was big enough. The strap is in a rib knit with garter stitch at either end where it will be sewn to the purse body. I knitted a big fat rose and leaf from a pattern in the July issue of Simply Knitting magazine.

After sewing together the body, straps, and flower, using cotton quilting thread and a big needle, I needed to make a lining. What do you know, I just happened to have some Cotton Rib knit Camo Pink fabric in my stash, having gotten it last summer from fabric.com. I eyeballed the size of the purse body, then cut a rectangle of the fabric that size, folded it in half, and serged the two sides, leaving an opening at the top. I also cut a narrow rectangle, turned under the edges and hemmed them, then sewed it to one side of the liner with a row of stitching down the middle, so that the liner would have a few pockets. Naturally I had a zipper in the stash that would serve. I machine stitched the zipper to the liner top, then hand-sewed the liner along the zipper tape to the purse body at the top opening.

Cotton Pink Camo lining


Finished purse

Woo-hoo! to our awesome, awesome military! Welcome back, 101st!

Remnants for Appliques

It sounds so obvious, but one sure way to use up remnants is to make them into appliques.
You know it’s true. But it’s so easy.

Here we have the remains of a white cotton remnant that I used to make a collar for a summer dress in a previous post.
This design is from Planet Applique –it’s reminiscent of a tuxedo. I put it on a black toddler t-shirt and personalized it with the toddler’s name. Why the name? A new year of day care is about to start and the teachers do appreciate that the toddlers’ clothes identify a boy who looks, to them, exactly like his brother.
This design, of course, was done in the hoop of an embroidery sewing machine. You could do it on a regular sewing machine by cutting the remnant the size and shape you want, then attaching it to the t-shirt using a column-stitch or an applique stitch. If you have one of the older machines, it can be a zigzag stitch that is very close together. When I had an old Kenmore back in the 80’s, I did lots of appliques with the close-together zigzag stitch.
You can use the smallest of pieces of leftover fabric for appliques. Here’s another example:

You can buy toddler t-shirts at some JoAnn stores and most of the time they’re $3 or less. I found some on a clearance rack for $0.97. Target has toddler t-shirts in packages, and so does K-mart, although I’m not sure if K-mart will be around.
The tuxedo t-shirts did not fit well in the hoop so I had to cut the side seams and then re-sew them after the embroidery step, better than dealing with the craziness of overlapping and accidental stitching where you didn’t want the stitching to be! Also, if you do lots of applique-ing, you may want to invest in a pair of applique scissors, or at the very least, a pair of those very tiny embroidery scissors. If you applique in the hoop, as I did here, you cut the appliqued fabric off at the edge of the embroidery stitching and without a good set of scissors, you can really wreak havoc! Postaweek 2011!

Remnants for Appliques

It sounds so obvious, but one sure way to use up remnants is to make them into appliques.
You know it’s true. But it’s so easy.

Here we have the remains of a white cotton remnant that I used to make a collar for a summer dress in a previous post.

stitching the remnant applique


This design is from Planet Applique –it’s reminiscent of a tuxedo. I put it on a black toddler t-shirt and personalized it with the toddler’s name. Why the name? A new year of day care is about to start and the teachers do appreciate that the toddlers’ clothes identify a boy who looks, to them, exactly like his brother.

finished applique

This design, of course, was done in the hoop of an embroidery sewing machine. You could do it on a regular sewing machine by cutting the remnant the size and shape you want, then attaching it to the t-shirt using a column-stitch or an applique stitch. If you have one of the older machines, it can be a zigzag stitch that is very close together. When I had an old Kenmore back in the 80’s, I did lots of appliques with the close-together zigzag stitch.
You can use the smallest of pieces of leftover fabric for appliques. Here’s another example:

appliqued t-shirts


You can buy toddler t-shirts at some JoAnn stores and most of the time they’re $3 or less. I found some on a clearance rack for $0.97. Target has toddler t-shirts in packages, and so does K-mart, although I’m not sure if K-mart will be around.
The tuxedo t-shirts did not fit well in the hoop so I had to cut the side seams and then re-sew them after the embroidery step, better than dealing with the craziness of overlapping and accidental stitching where you didn’t want the stitching to be! Also, if you do lots of applique-ing, you may want to invest in a pair of applique scissors, or at the very least, a pair of those very tiny embroidery scissors. If you applique in the hoop, as I did here, you cut the appliqued fabric off at the edge of the embroidery stitching and without a good set of scissors, you can really wreak havoc! Postaweek 2011!

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