book arts, calligraphy, illustration, writing

creative expansion

On looking for the binder which held my handsewing samples, I found a number of old notebooks. Two of them were sketchpads, to be more precise — and looking at what was contained therein and in some of the unused pages of my bound notebooks inspired me to work on my 2D art again.

This in turn got me to start reading Scott McCloud’s Making Comics again, and I went out and bought a set of markers today in greyscale (warm tone, not cool). I’ve been using these for a while since I got home today. They’re alcohol markers, but they’re a lot less smelly than the Prismacolors. They’re also a good deal more expensive than the Prismacolors, at list. As it was, it wasn’t so bad — about 50 cents more per marker than the Prismas, and I was able to customize what I was getting (instead of getting three black markers in with the Warm Grey Prismacolor set).

What I’d had before were Trias, but apparently Trias used to be good (which is how I first ran across them) and now a lot of people (including me) have problems with the newly designed markers drying out. I had to throw out three or four markers because they were unusable — to Tria’s credit, I got these a good while ago, but not everyone posting bad reviews with the same problem, had them sitting around for years.

Getting back into illustration…it’s brought up whether I want to write again. Due to factors I won’t get into here, it’s been easier for me recently to think of writing. As it is, I should have a good fund of material should I want to practice adapting prose or poetry to a graphic novel or “comic” format.

But I think that the most interesting thing to happen today was experimenting with one of my brush pens (I think it was a Staedtler Duo), trying to write nicely and more-or-less correctly, using kanji and hiragana. Then I started looking at the Japanese learning books I have here but haven’t been using, and realized what a short jump it was from drawing pictograms and ideograms to drawing pictures.

So I want to get back on the Japanese learning thing. I had a dream the other night about copying someone else’s handwriting to learn new ways of moving my hand in drawing. I do know that my own handwriting really only became very legible after I’d practiced writing in Japanese (not romaji).

Right now I’ve got several things going on: sewing, drawing, Japanese language study, the potential of writing again and possibly writing and/or drawing some short fiction. The religious study is still there, but fainter in import. Then there’s also the knitting and crochet, which ’til now I’ve been pretty dependent on for occupying my time.

I find it interesting how much more engaging drawing is when it isn’t just figures. As Scott McCloud said, don’t think of “backgrounds” as “backgrounds”; they’re your character’s environment. I suppose of course things would seem a little unhealthy if you subtract the character from everything surrounding them, and often the rest of their bodies from their face. ;) I tried adding an open window behind my test character, and the image was suddenly a lot deeper and a lot more interesting.

I’ve still got to practice with the new markers. But one more thing before I go to bed:

I really need to get some more of those Tombow markers. They’re freaking wonderful. I love the color. And they’re cheap and readily available. I figure the joy I derive from coloring with them, outweighs archival concerns over whether they’ll still be around in 20-30 years.

They’re just beautiful. I may be going back for more. Right now with the new markers (not Tombow), I’m just working with warm greys. But there’s more I can do, once I get my value studies down right.


Folkwear trial blouse update

I did get some work done on the blouse today, including making the upper four ties and sewing much of the collar — which I should note, initially was intimidating to me. But breaking things down into reasonable-sized chunks really helps me a lot.

I’ll probably work on it again tomorrow, though I also want to go out and get some silk thread for basting (it’s supposed to be easier to remove than standard cotton or polyester thread, which counts when the basting has been machine-sewn over). I should also note that diagonal basting gets caught by the presser foot — I had to keep pressing the thread down with my fingers so it wouldn’t gather the fabric.

I’ve got to remember not to safety-pin pattern pieces to fabric pieces — my fabric pieces get big holes in them that way. Luckily it was just the ties, and it was just muslin.

Either I need to get a light thread and re-baste the relevant sections of the collar…or just try my best to remove the basting after the collar is assembled. (It would have been easier just to machine-baste rather than hand-baste, though the basting would not be removable on the inside of the collar that way — unless I cut it into pieces on the wrong side and then picked the loops out from the right side.) I should check to see if I actually *do* have anything else to baste before committing to a trip tomorrow, though. After all, I could work on this all day straight otherwise.

I’ve been wanting to get some larger-gauge earrings, but seeing as I have less free funds to work with this month, I think that the money would be better put to fabric for the final version of this blouse. I mean, what do I do with earrings? Put them in and forget about them? Whereas constructing a nice blouse would keep me occupied for a while. Plus then I get another wardrobe element. I don’t need more jewelry, really. But I do need some clothing to go with my skirts.

For the final version of this I’m going to need:

1) fabric
2) light interfacing (woven or nonwoven, doesn’t matter)
3) matching high-quality thread
4) silk basting thread

I’m thinking of a dark blue batik for the fabric, but I don’t know if that will work out. If I use dark blue, I can use some of the Gutermann blue thread I’ve already got. But if I’m using batik, a dark bluish green could also work. I should probably check my wardrobe and see what I want it to match. I already know that the purple skirt is out, it has a hole in it. And I do have a lot of blue skirts. Plus I just got two mandarin-collar blouses in blue (one is indigo), so maybe I could do something a little different.

I need to check the tip of the sewing-machine needle and make sure it isn’t burred from sewing over that glass-head pin. I hope I didn’t hurt the pin too bad, either. I think I may have chipped it, but I didn’t think to feel the head to see if it was damaged before putting it back into the pincushion. Need to remember that next time.



Folkwear blouse trial construction

Got a lot done today.

I was able to work on the Folkwear pattern for a good deal of the afternoon and into the night. Right now it’s just a trial garment so that I am not so intimidated by the thought of messing up nice fabric that I don’t work on it at all.

Hopefully after I’ve done this, I’ll know what I’m actually supposed to do the second time around. And I’ll have one more thing to wear around the house. ;D I’ve been writing down working notes in my sewing notebook, so that should help me next time.

I’ve gotten to the part where I’m supposed to baste the interfacing into the collar, but haven’t done that yet, and sewing in bed doesn’t sound like a good idea. I’ve been up for a long time; I should probably get some rest and start fresh tomorrow.

I think I may sew more in the future. Having a project to direct my waking attention to helps me to not go back to bed in the middle of the day. And it keeps me from being bored. Along with my music, it very effectively helps me feel that I’m doing something constructive, and, at least, distracts me from the low-level depression I’ve been feeling lately. That’s if it doesn’t actually alleviate it.

And I’m gaining a skill! Some method of garment construction that isn’t dependent on yarn. And gets me back to working with needles, which I’m familiar with from the beadwork and that one class I took.

Speaking of which, I should probably go back and practice my handsewing stitches, see if I lost any of them. I have enough scrap fabric now to do this.

For now I should get some rest.

garments, sewing

starting to sew

So I’ve been missing for a long time, eh?

Quick rundown: knitting is difficult, being able to buy supplies doesn’t mean I really want to use them the way I think I want to use them, sewing and crochet are easier than knitting. :) I now know why S didn’t get too far in learning how to knit — it’s frustrating. And oh — I need intellectual stimulation in addition to making things with my hands.

I’ve started work on a jacket…it’s a Folkwear pattern, but I don’t think I should really tell which, at this point. I suppose sewing isn’t as forgiving as knitting (mis-cut and you may have to buy more fabric), but it’s a bit more pleasurable to me, right now. Even with all the pinning and cutting and marking. I’ve done this before when I was a child, so it isn’t entirely new to me…and I think one thing all three of these crafts have in common is that beginning is one of the hardest parts.

I’m using a method of marking pattern points by leaving different-colored threads hanging out of the spots which are supposed to be marked. I feel much better about this than about using chalk or disappearing ink; I don’t have to worry about the marks remaining for all time, at least unless the thread bleeds dye into the fabric.

Right now I’m working on a muslin mock-up so that I have something to practice on and won’t feel bad about messing up nice fabric if I make a mistake or three. I’m thinking about going out and purchasing a book which will help with advanced tips (like marking pattern points with thread instead of with pins or chalk or marking pens, or why diagonal basting is usually superior to straight basting, etc). I have a book a friend loaned me, so this will hold me for now, I suppose. I should also get a pair of shears with angled handles. But I don’t need those immediately.

Maybe I should go work on this now, it will give me something to do.

fiber arts, occupational hazards

Butterfly 10 + 4mm circulars

So I went to a LYS and found that the pattern I’d been practicing — the Cloverleaf Cable one — is really advanced for the amount of time I’ve been knitting. The pattern includes an SSK, and undoing an SSK was messing me up. I found out that when undertaking a project with a new stitch, you have to know both how to knit it, and how to unknit it. Since I barely know how to do an SSK anyway…well, you can see my problem.

I did find a thread on Ravelry that can be searched under “tinking SSK” which gives a lot of different methods for undoing an SSK without damaging the work more than necessary. But I think that for now I’m probably not going to do the Cloverleaf Cable.

I did find a Diagonal Lace stitch pattern (no SSKs) which I want to use with the Misti Alpaca laceweight, held double. This note still needs to be marked on my pattern sheet, though. This last time of attempting something with that yarn, though — I learned that with the Diagonal Stitch pattern, I need to put in a lifeline every pattern repeat (every 6 rows). Undoing a pattern which includes YOs and SKPs is…well, I can say that I messed up the pattern more by trying to undo my work than it was messed up to begin with. If I’d had a lifeline, I would have been able to just rip back one and a half rows, given that the yarn didn’t tangle itself into a knot instead of ripping back. And this yarn really does like to knot instead of coming undone, unlike the Butterfly.

Right now I have some new yarn — Butterfly 10; mercerized cotton, DK weight. Plus a set of flexible plastic 4mm circulars which I used a hair dryer to straighten (much easier than using tap water, even though I warped one section of the cable). I was told by the LYS person that they would be easier on my wrists than metal or bamboo circulars, which she said could cause RSI (though this might not be an issue unless you’re knitting a *lot*).

The only thing I can say about them so far is that I need to keep my tension looser than I did in order for the loops to move over the join between needle and cable smoothly; plus the feel in one’s hands (and the scraping between the points in the method of knitting I’m using, which polishes bamboo points but may wear on these) takes some getting used to. I do, however, like the concave taper on the points. I can look up the brand if anyone’s interested.

I also picked up a pattern for a cable scarf and charted out the pattern last night so I could see how it worked. I think if I add on one more cable and one more in-between panel, it should be workable in the smaller yarn. It’s easy to see now why so many of the scarves in LYSs are narrow and long — it’s easier to undo because there are less stitches to drop or tink.

I really have no idea why the Butterfly is so much easier to unravel than the Misti Alpaca, except it’s larger and so it’s more difficult for a tiny strand to get caught and cause the unraveling to stop. Plus it’s mercerized, so it’s kind of shiny and smooth.

The Misti Alpaca which I broke off — I’d been using it for samples, which is how I know it works well held double for the Diagonal Lace pattern. But it really does wear when it’s ripped back, plus it knots; so now I have a bunch of fuzzy, tiny waste yarn. I’m going to use it for lifelines, as I did when trying to see if the Butterfly 10 looked good in the Diagonal Lace pattern (it doesn’t).

But the Butterfly 10 — it cost me $4 a hank. I’d hate to use it for dishcloths — it’s soft and shiny enough to be garment material. Of course there is that issue with cotton absorbing pesticides while growing which I heard about in my Fibers class, so the poison can’t be washed away…but really, most of my clothes are cotton, so I’m not entirely certain I should be overly concerned about the yarn in specific.

There is one LYS store within driving distance which sources locally-grown, organic cotton. I’ll have to check that out.