color, craft, fabric, fiber arts, sewing

Fabrics!!!

Remember how I mentioned that thing about having too many choices? I was partially referring to this:

A bunch of quilting cottons divided by color, into blue-greens, pinks, and purples.

And this:

Orange quilting cottons on the right, and a couple of cottons I don't like, on the left...

I obtained these after decimating my Fat Quarter stash for COVID-19 face masks. Of course, these will also be going (first) to COVID-19 face masks.

I’m still not certain whether to launder these before I begin cutting and sewing. It is tempting to wash everything, though that also means pressing everything. I don’t mind it, but it’s a lot of work, and this is a lot of fabric! The textures of the fabrics also change, and there may be differential shrinkage.

I’m almost scared to start, because I know that if I cut and construct one mask out of these, it may not last through the wash…though I have been encouraged to try making at least one mask and laundering it, to see what will happen. If it comes out poorly, then I wash everything else before cutting. If it comes out fine, then I don’t have to worry. I’m planning to tack on an extra 0.5″ to 0.75″, to account for shrinkage (the mask face should be approximately 6″x9″)…the thing is, the shrinkage via warp (length) versus via weft (width)…may not be the same. And it probably won’t be the same among all the fabrics.

I have extra yardage in the pink materials, so my first trial should come out of those…I had been planning to use the two fabrics on the left in the second photo, just because I like them least (with apologies to the designers). However, I have less of each blue and green Kona cotton (first photo, top left, plain fabrics), in exchange for more shades of those colors.

Six sets of mask cottons, ready to sew.

Ahh, decisions…

(I probably should be saying, “Ahh, inexperience…”)

I have nearly run out of the Fat Quarters I used for my initial masks. I basically slaughtered my initial stash, because I needed to. They were willing sacrifices of quilting cotton.

The cuts on the left are what I have had matched up, though I only have a few of these left to sew, and I’ve rearranged some of the pairings. Because they are all from 1/4-yard cuts, I wasn’t able to make two long ties as versus four short ones.

However…that could be rectified in what I’m about to get into.

I haven’t sewn in about two days. I think I’m still getting over the shock of the new fabrics. If I’m correct, all in all I’ve made about 16 masks, so far. What I don’t use on masks is going into quilts; I already have an interesting idea laid out, though I can’t right now find the image file of the quilt block I designed. It’s basically based on paper-folding…I can’t find the relevant post right now, though.

I really need to start an “origami” tag…and/or a “quilting” tag…

Oh hey, look. ;)

career, creative writing, creativity, work, writing

Records, Distractability, and Commitment

I’ve rediscovered one of the major reasons I have continued to write. If I don’t, I have a tendency to forget what has happened. Days blend into each other; I lose my sense of self; I lose continuity.

It was only through writing responses to others in my field that I realized the fact that I can use my Creative Writing degree to run Creative Writing groups, should I become a full-fledged Librarian. At the time of my realization, I also found that there could be a purpose for getting an MFA in Creative Writing: It would teach me how to teach Creative Writing, or at least give me the experience so that I could do so, better.

Of course, though: writing is just one of the multitude of activities I could be pursuing in my off-hours. It’s something that I do already, and something it could be said that I need to do. Along with this goes the need to be reading, which is also something that…well, you know, greatly helps if you’re a Librarian.

This has got me thinking back on the graphic novel project that I had been musing over…and have started to write out. It’s possible that I could work this out in a literature format (which would ease demands over certain things like only involving what I am confident in being able to draw), but I still have no expectations over being able to make money with it.

Traditional publishing is not an easy thing to break into, as an author. But if I’m employed in a library, am well-read, research my Publishing Houses before targeting them, keep up my writing practice, and have an BA in Creative Writing…all of those things should increase my chances of acceptance.

There is the question, I’m asking myself right now, as to whether my medium has to be that thing I need to do, like I need to breathe or eat. In that case, writing is it. I basically can’t avoid writing, and expect to hold who I am, together.

Then there are the other things.

There’s study and continuous learning related to my primary career, which is — for now — Adult Services Librarianship (or aiming for that, at least). In addition to reading broadly, there are competencies that can best be approached by study. Then there is second language acquisition…which, at least, keeps things fresh.

My barrier to Spanish language acquisition is lower by miles than my barrier to Japanese language acquisition. As I have a lot of other things I want to be doing, and I’ve realized some of the skewed viewpoint I got in my Middle and High School language classes, I’ve decided to give Spanish a shot. Even though it is basically fraught with political, social, and religious land mines for me.

However, if I want to study the legacy of colonialism on Central and South America (and the Philippines), it’s a good language to have. Not to say that colonialism only hit there, but looking at postcolonialism in, say, Africa, is likely going to be more difficult for me (unless I learn other Western European languages). It’s a start.

Then there is the problem of what can’t be communicated through words. I’m not a good enough poet at this point to be able to verbally elicit what I mean through methods other than prose. As a youth, I didn’t have the vocabulary to really say (audibly) what I needed to say. Of course, I can study poetry now — maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I know where to find it — the issue is dealing with the idea that I’m participating in frippery while the world is going down the toilet.

That, however, forgets the power of words and the inspiration they can elicit. I might be able to inspire many people to help — and they might do more work than I would able to do, if I directly applied myself. So, I suppose, I shouldn’t think of reading, or writing, as purely recreational or useless (even if it is fiction or poetry).

There’s also the point that writing is hard; emotionally speaking. Especially so, where it comes to writing about things one has experienced which are so damaging and idiotic, one may wonder why they take up any space in consciousness at all. I am generally not one to write farces, but I can see their use. Black humor may come into play, in the future. I’ve never considered it a weapon in my arsenal…but times may call for it.

Aside from this…I am so easily distracted. There are tons of things I want to do that I just don’t find time to do, because I’m too busy making up more things to do.

For example, I picked up a set of templates for English Paper Piecing (EPP), recently…whereupon I then designed a different pattern, even nicer than I had envisioned. So right now, I have three different designs for quilts, going on in my head. I should likely do something with that: one is based on EPP, one I drew on graph paper, and the third, I generated from paper-folding.

Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t think I know what I’m doing.

Well, maybe some part of my brain, knows what it’s doing. The color aspect of this…is likely why I continue to be drawn. That, and the similarity of quilts to mandalas. There’s also the geometry thing; I suppose I can’t forget the geometry thing. Math and color? Is that where my brain needs to be to unwind?

I also suppose that there really isn’t any reason why I can’t, or shouldn’t, use watercolor to help design these things. So much of it has to do with color placement and interactions. I mean, a quilt top is basically not much more than a pieced-together sheet, if it’s all the same color…

I’ve also realized that a lot of the books I find, I can use maybe 10-12 pages out of 60. Those 10-12 are really valuable, though. I may have to start keeping files (or more of a file) of the parts of books I can use…

All that to say…I’m formulating ideas about what’s necessary in my life, and what isn’t. It should help me divide my time and energy, so that I can get it all done.

I just hate to have Art take a back seat to language. The fact is, though: I try to write on a regular basis (hopefully, daily). I’m much less committed, with Art. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, for me…it’s just a surprising thing.

I’m going to save analysis of this entry for another day…

art, comics, craft, creative writing, drawing, illustration, sequential art

Needing to focus…

“Focus,” that is, on which projects I want to work on, now. There is the issue of where to put my resources so as not to overwhelm myself. It wasn’t long ago that I was looking at embroidery (I still am)…and then at quilting and sewing. A helper at a quilt store nearby introduced me to English Paper Piecing (EPP), which I’ve been browsing about, tonight.

If I did work with EPP…I would either be using a trapezoidal (EDIT: wait, no, just quadrilateral) pattern I made up myself (though I’ve seen something like it [along with a bunch of other stuff] called “Whirligig” [“Whirlygig?”] online), or hexagons with trapezoid borders. The latter might be…well…more systematic and predictable. I know a place where I can get whole hexagonal pattern pieces and then cut them up to make a modularly-edited quilt. (Is that a term?)

The Whirligig pattern that I’m thinking of, by the way — if I’m remembering it correctly — is made of an origami-paper square which is folded so one corner meets the midpoint of the side it’s folding towards. Unfold it, then turn the paper 1/4 turn and fold the other three sides in the same manner, turning it in the same direction each time. When you unfold it, you’ll have a cross in the center of the paper marking the midlines (which you can ignore), and four other lines which — if you cut across all of them — will give you the pattern I have.

If you, instead, fold the paper so that the parallel lines touch (it helps to mark the midpoint on one side before going to fold the other), you’ll get a Whirligig without a center square. If you then arrange these symmetrically, you should get a repeating, borderless hourglass motif.

Right now when I look at my quilt square that I did — likely years ago (time flies when you’re not a kid anymore) — there’s a cross going by the interior borders, and a square in the center. So when these pieces are placed as I placed them, you get a lozenge border contrasting with an hourglass border — I think (depending on color placement and where you focus; it’s easier to visualize with the little colored paper pieces here) — which are filled in with solid blocks.

Of course…it’s easier to envision when you have the pattern pieces in front of you. I don’t have the original pattern next to me right now. I had to go and get a paper to fold so that I could report accurately what I did. Something in me remembers, but it’s not the part of me that is good at writing. :)

But I’m curious as to whether I should do this project, now, just because it’s mine. I do have plastic sheeting to make templates (from the paper prototypes). I got it for this. I just left off of the project, I think, because of the whole demand for precision (flatness requires precision) and the question as to why I was hand-quilting it instead of machine-quilting it. (There are lots of straight lines.) I’d either have to mark or eyeball a lot of pieces…whereas if I were machine-piecing this, I’d have a built-in guide in the plate below the needle.

The helper at the quilt store encouraged me to make a pillow cover as a starter project. I can, seriously, do a pillow cover. I can do lots of friggen’ pillow covers. In different colors, for different moods. :)

I guess I can also make pillows.

So, then, there is also the issue of embroidery. I picked up some more stuff for it, thinking that I’d use a new book I’ve bought (Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches), which…I haven’t used, so far. I’ve been flipping through it, a lot. But this…from what I can see, it’s a serious embroidery book. So when I’ve just relatively recently taught myself how to do Feather Stitch (which required deciphering what each pierce of the needle and wrap of thread would do), it can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I was able to find some more beginner-level stuff at the Library, one of which includes a pattern for a needle case. Which…I could use.

So we have that.

Otherwise, what am I working on? There’s the ‘zine thing, and the development for it. I’m probably still waiting to get back around to scanning, optimizing, and uploading my images of those tests with the black drawing inks, and the Ecoline “watercolors”. However…what I’ve learned is that bottled dip-pen drawing inks labeled “India Ink” are more likely to be waterproof. Just as a blanket statement. I am not entirely sure why; I just observed it as a pattern.

I’ve also really got to see whether I can use a dip pen on Marker paper (I’m thinking more along terms of Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker or Borden & Riley Layout [which is translucent], as versus Aqua Bee or Deleter paper [which is opaque; and that is if the Bee paper I’m speaking of is even still made]), or if I’ll need to use fineliners for the lineart, and markers otherwise. This matters because if the paper can take liquid media and dip pen, I can use everything I’ve got: ink and brush, pens, watercolor, etc. If it can’t, I’m limited to markers and fineliners (the latter of which I would also, actually, consider a type of marker).

The alternative is to work the art out entirely on a wet media paper: something like a smooth Bristol, or hot-press Watercolor paper, being my first thoughts, though “Mixed Media” paper might also be okay. I need to test it out. I should also remember that as long as the drawing is to scale, I can always digitally shrink it to fit (though the lines will also shrink).

A night or two ago, as well, I made a prototype model of the book binding I might be using. It kind of matters to know this, so I can size the images correctly as I make them. Right now I’m aiming for a 5″x7″ booklet, which opens up to 9.5″x7″. Since I don’t yet know how to bookbind with an awl and needle yet, it may (unfortunately) end up being stapled. But that assumes that I won’t learn the skill. (I do think I have cork board around here…)

There’s also the possibility of not worrying about the image alignment and sewing the volumes the normal way (Coptic binding?), which might be easier. Because of this, I’m going to want to print across all 5″ of each page (to give me leeway if I change my methods). It’s just that no critical data can go in the inner 1/4″, next to the spine. And the page order will take some rearranging, if I go the Coptic route. I can’t remember how many pages a “magazine” (a internal section) in Coptic binding is supposed to hold, but I can look it up. (Ah: 8, 16, or 32 pages.)

And then we also have…that script I’m working on, which is somewhat fun, even if somewhat disturbing. When I get into a flow state, though, it’s really easy. Editing the script and composing the images, will be different.

I kind of think that’s enough on my plate, for now.

fiber arts

correction — and quilting!

I mentioned earlier that I thought the Brown Sheep yarn I’m using was supposed to resist felting. I don’t think it is. I went and checked the ball band when I broke into this new ball of yarn and it says, “mothproofed”, not “superwash”. I guess I confused one for the other.

And now I’m wondering how this is going to look after it’s washed…oh, well…I’ll see eventually.

And yeah, over the weekend I started on a quilt-piecing project. This has been pretty nice so far even though I know I don’t know how far in to start stitching or end stitching…right now my stitches are running over into the seam allowances…

I’m doing the sewing in this project by hand with quilting thread and size 10 needles. There’s something about sewing by hand that I like, that I don’t get when I sew by machine. So far I’ve done six seams — I stopped on the weekend after the sun went down.

I should really go now, but I should note to myself that I’m thinking of saving for a rotary cutting mat, should I continue to find the quilting fulfilling…