Saturday, September 29, 2012

Quilting Detail

 I figured maybe instead of just throwing pictures up of all my projects (because doing that every week would be really boring), maybe I'll show you HOW I make each one of them. Starting with the quilt, since a couple of people have been curious about that. Usually I sit on my bed, throw on some Netflix, and hoop up the next square I'm going to quilt. In this case, it'll be that boring grey square in the middle. These squares are very simple to do, just straight lines to make a smaller square inside.

 Next step is to measure half an inch inside whichever line you want to start with. Of course, you always want to start your quilting in the middle, so it's always better to start with whatever part of the square is closest to the middle. in this case it's the top left corner, so I'll be going from left to right.
 Mark the line with a piece of masking tape so you know you'll be making a straight line.
 Mark your start and end points.
 Clearly I've used the same piece of tape several times, so I have to start getting creative to keep track of what I'm doing. It gets messy quickly.
 Then take your needle and make even running stitches along the line. This is my favourite needle because it's bent in the most convenient way. I don't what I'll do if I ever lose it. Before you begin you want to make a small knot in the in the thread, which you'll pull through the top layer of the quilt only, so it sits nicely inside and keeps everything in place.
And that's finished!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Progress as promised

 Apparently the girl whose room I took over made great cushion covers, but then took them with her when she left. So Diane and I whipped these up to some reality TV one night. By HAND!
 But mostly what I'm working on is this. I realized when I stepped out of the house one morning that not only had I forgotten my favourite cowl, I'd forgotten to bring ANY of them. So I'm making a new one from scratch. And of course I'm doing it in my version of a waffle texture, because I loves me some waffles.
 And yay my bed frame finally came! I'm going to be very upset to part with it now. Special bonus: what better way to keep a quilt-in-progress laid out nicely? Why, on the bed of course!
 I hardly thought this project would stay interesting to the internet at this stage, but I figure I might as well let you know it's going. This part here? That's done. You'll notice some faint lines in the points of the stars.
 A close-up of the centre, where you can actually see the stitching
 And another star, which is unfinished.
This bit probably shows it best. The right half is finished, you can see some basting stitches in the middle, and the left side has yet to be dealt with.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Again with the making crafts out of an ENTIRE BALL OF YARN.

This one actually isn't so bad because you can just stick a pine cone in the top and take it out after Halloween. Orange isn't SUCH a bad colour.

But then there's the suggestion of glue-gunning it in. WHY?! NO! DON'T! If you don't actually knit and won't use the yarn give it to me! I'll use anything! I can't afford tons of yarn! I'll do pretty things! Things that require more styling than putting balls in a basket!

And again, this one really isn't so bad. But if I EVER. see another yarn ball wreath, I WILL confiscate all of the crafting supplies I find at the scene.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Painting Windmills.

Me, I have always been competitive. Not in direct comparison to other people though, that's not quite it. It wasn't, and isn't, about winning. It has always been about being the best. I didn't like sports because I wasn't the best at them, for example. I gave up drawing and a few other things because I was ok, and worked at them, but felt my abilities had reached a plateau. Of course I've learned that it's not being the best that's the point of life, but enjoying what I'm doing and not thinking about my place in the field in relation to the top (or, god forbid, the bottom). But sometimes it flashes back, for better or for worse. Sometimes I want so badly to be the best at something and get very upset that I'm not, which is invariably on  my first try. And when I was a kid, or a teenager, or a young adult, and I got into one of these moods, my dad would point to this tiny painting of a windmill we still have on the wall. A windmill is not a weird thing in our house; people have come in simply to use the bathroom, and they still got a lesson on Dutch culture and geography. So yeah, what about a painting of a windmill?

Well, he said. Do you know who painted that? No, I didn't. It was some overprinted landscape that happened to have a windmill and therefore matched the decor in the rest of the house. That's true, he conceded. But it was also a painting by Piet Mondrian. Yeah, that's right, this guy:

Based on whose paintings people have made shoes, cars, clothing, houses, kitchens, stereo systems, cake, and anything else that ever existed.

Even though I wouldn't say that Mondrian was the greatest artist, the point here is clear. You can't have an influence, or say anything of substance, earn respect, or in any way get to the top of something without a climb. Mondrian wasn't just some dude who decided to put squares on a canvas; he was a studied artist, practicing naturalistic and impressionistic painting for years before creating a whole new style of art. You must learn the fundamentals before you start a revolution.

And this, I now realize, was my reason for disliking the publishing courses at Ryerson just a little. There was nothing wrong with the way they were taught: we learned from people in the business, and we were given opportunities for internships and, later, employment. Still something lacked. An instructor in the MPub program, Mary Schendlinger, asked me last week why I'd come to Simon Fraser after studying at Ryerson. The courses, I said, were hit and miss. Unfortunately, I couldn't elaborate further (my excuse is that giving up certain things from home has triggered a relapse in insomnia, and I've been getting about 3-4 hours of sleep a night... I'm even dopier than otherwise).

I think I've got it now. These publishing professionals at Ryerson were looking for something extra special. They were looking for raw initiative, for a revolutionary, for someone who was going to show them how the looming changes in the industry were going to pan out. I felt this, but what could I do? How could I revolutionize something I knew very little about? Some were unwilling to share their projects and other examples, which makes sense seeing as they were industry professionals who were used to keeping close eyes on sales figures and potential mistakes. They alluded to them, but there were no figures, no benchmarks, and little opportunity for us to get feedback on our projects and learn from the mistakes we were making. Worse, they were sometimes unwilling to give us direct instruction on subjective aspects of the project, like book pricing. They mentioned formula pricing, but instead of explaining it, said that we would get a feel for pricing books with experience. They said this for everything. We would get a feel for it. Sure, but it turns out there IS a formula, and it's pretty friggin' simple. I know NOW that if something else makes sense to me, the price from the formula isn't set in stone, and I can change it to whatever I think appropriate. THIS is how I wanted to learn.

So I wasn't the best at those classes, and I felt like I never would be. But it's because they were forgetting the fundamentals. At Simon Fraser, I hear "can we get a benchmark number for that?" or "typically it's done this way," or "I don't know why it is, but I always see people do this" about three times per day if not per class. It's wonderful. Exactly what I needed. Brush strokes. Painting lessons. A foundation.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Holy Poop

I can't talk about Sweet Paul Magazine because I'm going to start swearing. All I'll say is that I've seen the light: mushrooms ARE adorable! Read it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Last Chance to Relax

 I'm back from Victoria and straight into classes. I feel terrible for anyone who asks me to do something that isn't publishing, but it's so stressful trying to immerse yourself in something only to have everyday life get in your way. It comes down to being relieved enough to cry when the waitress doesn't bother to ask if you want to take the rest of your poutine home, because you don't have to find the time to have poutine for breakfast. My mom's been here trying to keep me grounded, but she's gone back to Victoria until Sunday, and then will be flying home again. In a lot of ways I don't know what I'll do with myself when she's gone, but in many others I think I will be happy to get out of the family/Ontario/non-publishing/vacation mindset. Too many mindsets at once is too much for anyone.
 Anyhoo, had some lovely treks through what I thought was rainforest, but might just be forest forest. There were some pretty big stumps, but I guess there had been logging somewhat recently, so the trees were only "rather large" on the Ontario scale.
 I also went to the Butchart Gardens, because I'd never been before, and because people kept asking me if I had. While I'm not an avid gardener, I enjoy a good flower or two, so I enjoyed it immensely. I mean look at all the begonias!!!!! My mom says she'll plant a begonia bed around my peony bush for when I come home. Awesome, I say. I've also decided that I want my own giant sturgeon fountain.

 For some reason they don't have a bus leaving the gardens between 1:00pm and 4:00pm, so we had an hour to kill. But there was a boat tour around the surrounding waterways that took 45 minutes! So we did that, and it may have been the best part of the whole trip.
 There were purple martin lodgings, and I think I saw a couple, but I don't really know what purple martins look like, so they could have been swallows or something.
 I thought this island was a first nations burial ground, but it turns out I was on the wrong side of the boat, and the actual island was much further out.
 Apparently I have good luck with seals! But I think I have better luck with Coyotes, since I've run into them alone in the street twice now. So long as they're not rabid, I guess.
And, of course, MOON JELLIES!!!!!!