fiber arts, garments, needlework, sewing, tatting

Crochet lace?

Today I realized that if I wanted to add lace accents to clothing, I can make the lace using a crochet technique.  It’s been a fairly long time since I did any crochet, but I find it much easier than knitting.  If I wanted to try my hand at it, I do have some laceweight yarn, which I think is alpaca.  I also have fine cotton crochet thread, which would likely be what I’d use if I put lace cuffs on a shirt, for example.

I found one book specializing in crochet lace patterns today, but it focused on bedspreads and tablecloths, which is not really what I want to make.  New Tatting focuses on doilies, which again, is not really what I want to make.  There’s always the option of going back to Ravelry, if they’re still up, and actually that may be a very good option.

I have in mind a shawl pattern with a lot of openwork between denser areas of stitching.  It would probably take me a while, though, given that the yarns are so tiny and the hooks are so tiny.  But! I know I can crochet, and I can read crochet diagrams; whereas tatting is almost totally foreign to me right now.  And I have all the stuff I need to crochet, including some backup manuals.  ;)

Sounds good?  :)  I’ll add it to my “things I can do” list.

embroidery, fiber arts, garments, needlework, tatting

Beginnings of playing with _Embroidered & Embellished_; plus, tatting?!

I finally broke through the wall and started playing around with muslin and threads, today.  What I found, which was surprising, is that my own handwork differs from the handwork I’ve seen in my main text, for now — Embroidered & Embellished, by Christen Brown.

I picked up this book, as it was advertised to me before the date of its publication, and I’d been waiting on seeing it before I bought it.  It’s a very pretty/inspiring book, and I ended up checking it out of the library and reading it all the way through.  I found out that it seems to be geared towards beginning embroiderers, given the (limited) spectrum of “traditional” stitches which it features, which seem based on linework.  There are also some stitches for more advanced needleworkers, which fall under the chapter on “raised & textured embroidery” — though I wouldn’t have known about the difficulty level, except for reading in other embroidery texts.

Despite the linework bit, which really reminded me of drawing with fineliners as versus markers (ribbonwork?) or painting — I went out and bought a copy of this book today, because it does say (out of the great plethora of options) what needles to use with what thread or floss, and things are easy enough to understand, and limited enough, that it’s relatively non-intimidating.  It also seems that the later stitches often build upon simpler stitches learned early-on.  So while this isn’t a thorough reference by any means, it is a good teaching tool and introduction to embroidery, as it shows different results given with the same basic skill set, based on using differing materials.

I’m really glad I finally got up the nerve to try and practice.  I don’t know what it is, but starting is always the hardest part, for me.  I think there is a fear there that I’ll try it but not like it, or that I’ll try it and fail.  What happened today is that I tried it, and I liked some of my errors more than I liked what I was supposed to be making!

For example, there is something called a lazy daisy flower — while trying to do this, I accidentally started making a lazy daisy maple leaf.  I actually like the maple leaf better than the flower!  It all has to do with variations in proportion and spacing.  Color doesn’t hurt, either — I’ve been intentionally avoiding pink, and so came out with a bunch of red maple leaves.  (And one flower, after thinking to myself that I really should try to make one.)  ;)  Note:  when using a French Knot as the center of a flower, make the knot first and then stitch the petals.  The needle has been punching holes all through the center of the flower, and so your knot may pull all the way through the (now-weakened) fabric, otherwise.  So unless you want an eyelet with a knot hanging off the back, don’t do that!

There are a few other things to mention.  One:  how one holds the thread on the right side of the work while stitching, really does matter.  I’ve had more luck with making a stitch and then looping the floss over the needle, rather than stitching with my floss leading in some general direction, however.  Two:  it’s difficult to make a finishing knot when working with a small embroidery hoop.  I think mine is about 4-5″ across, and that’s not enough when you want to finish a thread (requiring one to make a French Knot and pull the [thick] needle straight through taut fabric) and the needle is facing a wall.

The third bit is related to #2; and that is, when stitching an outline using a backstitch, it really does matter whether the floss falls above or below the needle.  Randomly, one gets an offset, broken pattern, though this can also be done intentionally; always holding the thread above the needle, however, gives an overlapping pattern.

The last thing I wanted to mention:  proportions.  I genuinely like my own proportions better than the ones shown in this book.  I am not sure how much of this has to do with having practiced writing kanji, but my staggered blanket stitch (called the “short-long-short blanket stitch” in the book) really looks like I was writing yama, yama, yama over and over again.  (The Japanese character [or kanji] for “mountain” reads, yama; it shows three peaks next to each other, not unlike the staggered blanket stitch.)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten, for now.  I did, however, find a book on tatting, which is a method of lacemaking.  I’ve gotten the idea in my head to make garments with 3/4 sleeves, and lace edging the sleeve openings.  However, I’ve really got to find a good, simple book on tatting which will teach me the fundamentals.  I’d never been exposed to it before, and so while a lot of what I saw, looked basically like a lark’s head sinnet which was looped around and upon itself — I had never even seen a tatting shuttle before, and I don’t know how to use one.

There is a place I know of which I can go to in order to look at laces, and they probably have a library there.  And it’s probably much greater than the one book I found on the shelf, today.  ;)  I didn’t pick that one up; it’s called New Tatting.  It focused mostly on doilies, which is not really my end goal.  My end goal would be something more like making trims for garments.  But again, you know, maybe it’s just meant as a course for learning the basics.  I’ll just have to research it more.

beading, beadwork, Business training, planning

Impracticality of making a living at beadwork

I think the title says it all.

I’m not sure this is truly the case, but it certainly seems to be:  becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business making beaded jewelry and selling it to clients is probably not something from which I’m going to be able to make a decent living.  I had half a mind not to write this post, but then I realized that it’s probably a big turning point so far as this blog is concerned.

I’ve just completed a semester of Marketing and a semester of Microeconomics.  Both of them together show that the opportunity cost of making beaded jewelry is too high, because I live in a country with high labor wages and a high cost of living.  Making jewelry is a time- and labor-intensive ordeal, and I live in a society which focuses on capital-intensive goods and services, not labor- or land-intensive goods and services.

Making labor-intensive goods in a society which has high labor wages because of a high cost and high standard of living means that imported goods of the same or higher quality could vastly undercut me in terms of what the public decides they’ll pay for it, because of what they’re used to paying for it.

If circumstances were different — say, if I were married or had any real prospects to be within the next 5 years, and my spouse were making enough money for the both of us, this would be a different situation; but I’ve got to be able to support myself on my own.

So because of this revelation, I again need to change career paths to something more profitable.  I’m wanting to enter the field of Information Technology.  This is a capital-intensive field which matches the environment that I live in fairly well.  The opportunity cost of this — that is, what I’m giving up in order to be pursuing it — is fairly low.

It doesn’t mean of necessity that I feel from here, it’s what I’d most like to do, but it’s acceptable.  In all honesty, the dream of making beaded jewelry and the reality of making beaded jewelry are not the same things, either.  If I did become an entrepreneur in making jewelry, in effect my time would largely be taken up with management and a host of other tasks related to the running of a small business which would leave me with little time actually devoted to doing what I want to do — making jewelry.  The people who would be able to make a lot of jewelry would be my employees, not me.

Anyhow, I’ve decided to give myself a break over this summer and not pursue the computer training immediately.  When I go back in Fall I should be taking 2 classes, which will amount to 8 units.  If I took the class I’d wanted to take over the summer, I’d be cramming a semester’s worth of a 4 unit class into 6 weeks and trying to jam in a bunch of work in addition so that I could pay my bills; after this semester, I don’t think I want to get right back into that, immediately.

I’ve also realized that I don’t particularly think I’m well cut-out for being a businessperson.  Out of all my Holland Code Scores, Social is dead last as, like, an 8 or something.  So I probably shouldn’t be in a primarily social occupation, as both my current job and the field of Business, are.

I’m going to take a break from writing at this point, though I do think it’s worth mentioning that someone influential to me is a very nose-to-the-grindstone person and had told me to work on my skills and figure out how I’ll use them, later.  They have also said that they “don’t know why” I’ve been taking Business courses.

Because of this, they don’t tend to think ahead like I do, and I can see how it’s affecting their ability to design.  They have a lot of false starts and a lot of energy put into beginning, and then don’t know what to do once they reach a certain point.  Whereas I tend to think ahead on everything and in contrast tend to ignore the present for the goal.

If I hadn’t thought ahead, I might still be on the Jewelry track now, and in a metalwork class over the summer, learning silversmithing.  Silversmithing, at least, does pay better than beadwork, but it’s not my true love.  Beadwork, in contrast, draws me more (because of the color dynamics potentially involved), but the end of that — I can see from listening in on others’ posts — is being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

This is in addition to being subject to copyright laws — I’m still not sure how much they cover, but I have been party to some rather angry moral proclamations about “copying”.  This has really discouraged me from making anything at all for fear that I’m treading on someone’s intellectual property and then that I could be sued for it.  Or, alternate scenario:  making something for practice out of someone else’s pattern and then having someone ask me to make one “just like it” for them. Which, of course, draws on my time and finances, possibly substantially, should I do it for free.

My country is known for its litigiousness, after all.

Maybe I can counter that by bartering for plushies or something.  I don’t know.

macrame, storage, yarns

The spiders say it’s Spring.

Nothing much happened today except buying a trio of boxes to store my macrame-applicable yarns in.  I should probably toss the crochet hooks in there, too.

Well, plus I went to an appointment, took a nap, and studied for Economics tomorrow, in addition to trying to read for my other class.  I’m seriously not knowing how well I’m going to do on the take-home final, given that I haven’t read a lot of the material, and much of it wasn’t part of any lecture.  Wish me luck.

Besides this, it is oppressively hot, I just vacuumed up two spiders who looked like they were siblings (one in the bathroom and then another one in the computer room), and I am very, very ready for this semester to be over.

beading, Business training, embroidery, macrame, planning, sewing

So maybe I will open this blog to search engines…

Apologies for the delay.

I’ve been editing Categories as I intended to do some years ago.  Really?  Did I mark that many posts as “fiber arts”?  I can’t seem to alter the size of the “fiber arts” category in the right column, and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much, given that only Tags are shown at the bottom of each of my entries.  But maybe I can alter that, as well.  It’s been a while since I’ve toyed around with WordPress.

I’m almost done with classes for now, though I am thinking of taking a class which in the past, at least, has been a prerequisite for other classes that I’m pretty clear on wanting to take.  I’m also pretty clear that I’ll likely need the structure.  What I really want to do is spend the summer being creative with beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery, but the big threat there is that I’ll just end up with my sleep schedule way out of whack.  I suppose I could also apply for — or volunteer for — a different job which would give me additional work experience.  Think outside the box, yeah?  Though naming rote confinement as “the box” would seem to be a bit rote (…I’ll try and get off of this train of thought).

Plus; I can’t really make a good living off of beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery…at least not unless I put a lot of effort into it.  Considering that three out of those four categories are newish to me, as well…it’s looking like I’m just trying to keep my mind stimulated.  But I’ve read that people with my type of mind tend to do that, which makes me a good candidate for IT work, because I won’t mind learning new things routinely for the rest of the foreseeable future.  Plus, IT actually does pay a living wage.  I’m thinking of keeping my crafts as a self-sustaining/somewhat-profitable avocation (probably as a hobbyist, not a business — there are a lot of regulations for businesses that I didn’t realize were there until this last round of research papers) while going into Web Design as a way to stay alive.

The reason I’ve kept search engines out of this blog is that…well, privacy, anyone?  It’s not like there’s much privacy online anyway, or that the world is actually trending toward being less connected, but being suddenly linked to the entire worldwide web — or anyone searching key terms, at least — is basically not having privacy.  Right now it’s like being out in the open but having a burrow well-hidden amongst the leaves.  Hiding in plain sight.  (Maybe that’s just my totem talking to me, though.)

I already know that dealing with the general public is not one of the great joys of my life.  In the past, this blog was linked to Ravelry, which is how I gained web traffic.  At this point, the material here is a bit personal to link directly to my identity.  It’s like the people I talk with online don’t know who I am, and the people who know me from real-world interaction, aren’t interested in my personal life.  And I haven’t been back to Ravelry in a very, very long time.

But I am interested in starting up some dialogue with other crafters.  My posts tend to be so long and intimidating to some, though, that they aren’t conducive to responses.  I think people get to the beginning of the third paragraph and go into absorption mode instead of conversation mode.  I know people read these things, they just don’t respond.  And pushing for responses just gets bad responses.

Anyhow, I’ve probably written long enough.  I have a couple of days to get my take-home Final done, and read the last chapter for my other class.  I hate feeling like I’m behind, but I actually do think that the vast majority of people are doing worse than I am, so maybe I shouldn’t grate on myself too much.

All right.  I think I’ll go and do something productive now, even if that is only something creative rather than career-related…