Archive for May, 2012

Every Knitter’s Dream

Well, I had the most productive lunch break ever yesterday.  I got another job. (As in an additional job, I like my current job.)

Rewind to when I first started this job–or even earlier than that to the interview. I was asked, “If you could have any job in the world other than this one, what would it be?” I thought for a few seconds and blurted out, “I’d like to own a yarn store.” It got a good reaction, and I got the job, so hooray!  When I started here, I searched for a yarn store in town with no luck.  (I did find a weaving place, which I’d still like to check out just because, even though I don’t weave.)   A few weeks in, some of my co-workers mentioned that there was a new one that had just opened.  I resolved to check it out during my lunch break, and one day last week, I did.

They had yarn, fabric, and supplies for working with both. I started chatting with one of the employees as well as the owner.  I mentioned that I was just browsing since I’d heard there was a new yarn store in town but had a few things in mind to make. (One of them: fingerless gloves for my freezing office.) I picked up a ball of yarn, some needles, some pins, and a spool of thread.  When I was paying, the owner asked me if I’d be interested in teaching knitting classes. I taken aback because it was so unexpected–but how cool! I said possibly and that I would come back to talk about it.

So I went back yesterday with samples of things I’d made (both completed and in-progress fingerless gloves, for the aforementioned freezing office).  The in-progress glove was in a bad that I’d embroidered.  Evidently they’re looking to get some embroidery stuff in there along with the  yarn and fabric,and that they want an embroidery teacher as well!  Hooray for being multi-craftual!

I was given some things to work on that I’ll potentially be teaching, but I’ll hold off on saying what yet, in case something changes.

I’m so thrilled! I kind of work at a yarn store! And what knitter/crocheter wouldn’t want that??

On a completely unrelated note, I love upcycled things and comic books, so etsy seller comicsalvage is right up my alley.  I want everything on there, including the cuff links, and I don’t even wear cuff links! Thanks to When Geeks Wed for pointing it out to me.


05/31/2012 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

Schrödinger’s Spinning Wheel is Alive! (Really!)I

On Thursday, I contemplated murder put together my spinning wheel.

It was truly one of those times that try men’s souls, but eventually, I was able to turn this:

into this:

The directions the wheel came with were absolutely terrible, and the “illustrations” were even worse.  I got stuck on step 1 for about 10 minutes until I realized that my step 1 was already done and the two pieces to which they were referring had been put together previously.  Also it didn’t help that the example in the directions was a mirror image of my wheel, rather than the same exact design.

The frame and the wheel came together pretty easily.  That little part on the top left– the business end of the spinning wheel, if you will– was the smallest and %#*!$! hardest to put together.  I eventually looked for other directions online and found these official ones, which were similarly bad, but at least laughably so.  They’re the kind that have no words, and instead feature a happy face on the things you are supposed to do and a sad face on the things you should not  be doing, and barely any difference between the two illustrations.  (Check out Step 28 for the tortoise and the hare, randomly.)

The absolute hardest part was the drive band, which is a fancy name for a piece of string.  It is a vital piece of string, however,  without which the yarn will not spin.  It was difficult to tie on the rope with a) a secure enough knot, and b) actually have it be tight enough that it would serve its function. I could have used something a little mas stretchy.

But in the end, it worked, and was even able to make some yarn.  Ugly yarn, but still yarn.  Considering I’m still a n00b, it’s really not so bad.

05/27/2012 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

It’s not the size that counts

Long time no write. I said I was going to keep up with the blog this time, and I meant it! But things do get busy, and a 40 minute drive to/from work tires me out.

Today, I came home with plans to write about a few smaller projects I’d made, and as I was taking pictures, my dog started barking furiously at the mail lady who was bringing a large package up to my front porch.

Hmmm…Frah-gee-ley. Must be Italian.

Actually it’s from New Zealand*, which makes it my Ashford traditional spinning wheel! Look at it in all of it’s IKEA like glory!

*Spell check is telling me that “Zealand” isn’t a word. Seriously? 

I had decided to name it Schrodinger after my reluctance to admit actually purchasing a wheel.  I’m sticking with that name, but I’m super excited that it’s here, and I will not be shamed for my love of fiber arts!  Schrodinger also came with a bag of wool to practice on, which is also pretty sweet.  More on that when I have time to assemble it.

Back to what I had originally decided to write today: smaller projects!  Long drawn out projects can be fun, and are usually really rewarding when finished, but they can also be really exhausting.  It’s nice every once in a while to bust out a completed project in a weekend, or sometimes even a shorter amount of time.

Since the office at my aforementioned 40 minute away new job is constantly freezing, I decided to expand my wardrobe of fingerless gloves, so I can stay somewhat toasty and still remain able to do my Excel magic.  I went with a pattern that I’d always liked, but had never gotten around to doing, and a yarn in my favorite color, and this weekend made these. They were relatively easy, but the pattern did require paying a lot of attention to where I was so as not to get off the pattern.  The little zig zags are done with cables, which is something I’m really not a huge fan of doing.  I’m lucky in that my dislike of cables comes without a great desire for complicated cable sweaters, because I would absolutely hate doing them.  They’re not difficult at all, even though a lot of cables look it; they’re just tedious.  As long as you have patience for watching for where you are in the pattern, and for actually doing the cables, they’re really easy.

These weren’t bad to knit. It was about as much cabling as I could take, but I really like the effect.  And they also include
something I’d never done before, which was a thumb hole.  Well, I’d done a thumb hole before that’s just that- – a hole.  But this was actually part of a finger.  Again, not a difficult thing to do, but annoying as hell, which is why I will never make gloves. (Side note: this reminds me of an amusing anecdote about me knitting gloves, but I feel like I should probably check with the other party involved before sharing it.)

My other project, which I’m really proud of, was also knocked out over the span of a weekend.  One day for the embroidery and another evening for the sewing.  I made a needle book to hold my embroidery needles, and my scissors.  Basically, it was an excuse to embroider something since Urban Threads has so many wonderful designs that I want to try.

Basically, I took a piece of blue cloth and embroidered two patterns on it. (The colors are purposely bold because of the comic book like designs. Also, I like color.) I got a piece of contrasting fabric for the inside.  Before sewing them together, I put a piece of craft plastic (basically a semi-rigid plastic net) in one half of it, so that the bottom would be rigid, and the flap would be left floppy.

Onto the rigid inside, I attached a piece of red felt to hold the needles. It’s a good thick material that they won’t slip out of.  I attached it with some double sided tape made especially for fabrics. I wasn’t sure how well it would work on the felt, but it actually worked really well.  I wanted this book to hold my scissors as well as needles, I only attached it on three sides, making it a great pocket to hold a tiny pair of scissors.

I am totally in love with this thing!  I’m actually thinking of making some to sell on that Etsy shop I keep saying I’m going to open.  What do you guys think? As long as I’m careful with the embroidery, do you think people would actually buy these? I actually want opinions, so don’t be afraid to say no. I can take it 🙂

05/21/2012 at 7:50 pm 1 comment

The first of probably many wedding posts.

With a wedding comes lots of little things to be bought– and later on probably to, “How   much was that?” to a DIY project.  But for now, I’m still willing to pay someone.  Being 11 months away from the wedding, we have plenty of time and are still at the early stages. Reception and church booked, caterer picked out (mostly because the venue only has one), and that’s about it.  Well one more thing, our unofficial “theme”: Dinosaurs.

Why dinosaurs? you ask.  Well, why not dinosaurs?  first of all.  Secondly, our wedding reception is in the local science museum on the dinosaur floor.  It wasn’t meant to be a theme but it’s slowly gone that way, which is something I’m totally fine with.

At the moment, we’re at the “save-the-date” cards stage of the process, and where does one go for dinosaur save-the-date cards, but Etsy.  I did a simple search for “dinosaur cards” and unfortunately, most of them look like this. But Etsy being Etsy, there are also many classy looking dinosaur cards in the running.


My original thought had been to use something from Dapper Dinos, which still may happen.  Along those lines, I really like this image on the left.  I might actually contact the designer and ask permission. He does sell some prints, though this isn’t one of them.  Still, something that’s going to involve a little less begging would be nice.

This Etsy seller makes bookmark save-the-date cards, which I think is totally awesome. (Thanks to Offbeat Bride for the tip.)  What’s more is that she does custom items, so it might be possible to request some kind of dinosaur design.

These brontosaurus (I said brontosaurus, I meant brontosaurus, don’t give me your apatosaurus crap) cards are pretty neat, and they come in a variety of colors.  They don’t have the kind of green that I want though, so that’s kind of a bummer.  Not a deal breaker though.

This seller has several different dinosaurs, which is pretty cool.  Although, every person will only get one save-the-date card, so multiple dinosaurs isn’t necessarily a must.

Another seller has teeny dinosaur cards, which could be cute, but then one would need teeny envelopes.  The seller conveniently has those too, and actually not for a bad price.  I’m not opposed to paying a small independent artist a  bit more than I’d spend otherwise, because I know that their time is worth it.  Also, in this case, I think it might actually be less.

One thing that I really like is when sellers will sell you the digital file and let you go ahead and print it yourself any way you want.  Cost
effective for everyone involved.  My favorite of those are these cute fill in speech bubble dinosaur cards.  And they have more than one type of dinosaur.

really awesome.   I would prefer something one sided for the save-the-date  cards, but I suppose I could cut them and make them one sided if I wanted to.  Not difficult.

The last dinosaur one that I like that is one sided, is also printable, and has customizable colors is this one. Ignore the “John is turning five” and the actual design is pretty nice, and I think could work for a wedding.  And they  have my colors (apple green, turquoise, and orange.)

And of course, it doesn’t have to be dinosaur at all, and from that standpoint, I like this one. I don’t wear glasses like that, but we do both wear glasses, and it’s still pretty cute.

Ah, so many options…if only I could buy them all.  There are so many creative and talented people out there, I love it.

05/05/2012 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

Brain stem! Brain stem!


I embroidered a brain!

Why, you ask? Because I can.

Honestly, it was craft night and I felt like embroidering something. (Craft night being the usually once monthly get-together with a bunch of girls who are either in or somehow involved with someone in physics.  It’s branched out from there, but that was the common thread at first.)

Embroidery is rather new to me, and while I’ve tried a few practice stitches, I find it’s better if I just go for it and make a designdo something.  (A few weeks ago I did a practice bird skull with little swirly things…I should take a picture of that, because I’m pretty sure no one else will ever see it otherwise) When I saw this brain, being a psychology major and all, I knew I had to make it.

I got the design from Urban Threads,which is an awesome embroidery site.  They have awesome designs for really cheap when you buy them individually, and even cheaper if you buy a design pack of a bunch.  They have goth, punk, steam punk, cutesy, nerdy…all kinds of awesome designs.  Plus, they allow you to sell things you make from their designs which is doubly awesome. (How many times can I use the word “awesome” in one paragraph? 5 counting this.)

The brain was part of an anatomy pack. (I might do the skull, but I really just wanted the brain.) If you see any blue on there, it’s because I haven’t washed of the fabric pen yet. And that one black line going off to the right side is a loose thread that I haven’t yet bothered to fix. Really I was just excited to share.

Now, looking at that picture of mine, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Uh, I can’t actually read any of those words…How bad are you at embroidery?” Well, I did more or less freehand those words, which is part of the reason they look so strange.  The other part is this:


You can’t read them on the original design either, so I figured, why bother trying? Because it’s so intricate and detailed, I wanted a thinner thread, so I used only half the thickness.  Embroidery is a bunch of little threads wound together, in this case six, so I just pulled it apart, and used only three.  Obviously I still have some embroidery skills to  pick up, but I’m not that bad.

I think I need to buy a lightbox for tracing.  The hardest part of this was getting the brain image onto the fabric so I could embroider over it.  I ended up taping them both to my bathroom window during ideal sunny-time.  It worked pretty well, but I’m sure I’ll eventually have something I can’t tape.  They make pattern transfer paper for this as well, but that sounds complicated, because I think you need to reverse the image? I don’t know, I haven’t really looked into it yet, mostly because I’m trying to avoid buying more stuff, hence the window taping.

Incidentally, in the process of doing this, my dog has eaten 2 rolls of tape. She usually leaves stuff alone, but for some reason she really likes Scotch tape.

I’ve been asked several times what I’m going to do with the brain. I think want to hang it up in my office at work.  My walls are rather naked right now. I’ll need to affix it in such a way that it looks nicer than an unevenly cut piece of fabric, but that’s a problem for future me.

PS: If you don’t get the title of this post, please enlighten yourself.

05/02/2012 at 12:45 pm 1 comment

You are all visually illiterate

So here I am starting up a craft blog again; somewhat ironically, at a time where I know I will have much less time to craft than I used to.  I do, however, have more money.  There are some advantages to growing up and getting a “real job.”  (Or, you know, any job…)

Anyway,Crafting and art stuff is something I really enjoy doing, even if I only have a little bit of time to do it.  And it’s something I like sharing with people as well.  Not just cool things that I made, but cool things that other people have made as well.  I’m trying a bunch of new things, and would love to get feedback from people, and this seems like the best and most fun way to do it.

Feel free to go to the “About” page and read more about what exactly it is I do.

Also, the name: Visually Illiterate.  I dedicate this blog to every bad art teacher I’ve had in my life (which actually isn’t that many), and really one in particular. I can’t even remember his name, but I can still picture him in my head. He looked like an art professor. Wearing all black, longish gray hair, a beard, and glasses; some strangely undefinable accent.  The kind of teacher who would walk into our classroom with huge windows*, say “Draw the trees” and then leave for 90 minutes. This class introduced me to the need for coffee in the morning.

His method of instruction was telling us how bad we were. Not any specific comments to anyone, but just in general.  And he would tell us every day with that weird accent, “You are all visually illiterate.”  And he never really explained what that meant.  Having taken more drawing classes and having learned psychology since then, I know what he meant: That we weren’t Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Basically we didn’t know how to sight things properly, and couldn’t separate what we saw from what we knew about what we were seeing, and transfer that onto paper.  Basically: We didn’t know how to draw.

In other words: Visually illiterate

*Just had a grammar nerd moment.  Was he carrying the windows while he was walking in? How would that even work?

05/01/2012 at 12:37 pm 2 comments

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