Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Accidents

I haven't written in 5 days so I have lots of news. Okay, I have three things to tell you. But that's two more than usual.

The front door curtains are... drum roll please... finished! And guess what? I like them! Cutting them into two parts was a life-saving maneuver. I was nervous that by splitting them I would lose width to the point of not having enough material to cover the window. But it magically worked out and I am pleased. This was my second (well technically my third) attempt at making curtains. Last year when I took a sewing course at NSCAD I became over-zealous and tried to make curtains for my bedroom window. They ended up 2 inches too short and were so wonky that when pulled to, there were one inch gaps between the panels. I've learned a few things since then it seems.

Once I decided to turn my single panel into two, my next idea was to tie the curtains during the day. But when I did that, I thought they looked too much like candy - and not in a good way. Also, on a practical level, having them tied 10 hours a day makes them rumpled and they don't hang properly when you let them down. So now I simply push them to the side and it's working for me. The little ties that I made? I think they'll make lovely scarves for a plushie some day... :)


Today was my day off so I made my way down to Fabricville. All the quilting fabric was 50% OFF!!! In my opinion, this was nothing short of amazing. I had one particular project in mind (that's foreshadowing tomorrow's post, by the way) so I had a loose idea of what I was looking for. But mainly I just walked round and round the quilting section and picked up any of the fabrics that called my name.

At the check out I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't be over 100 dollars and luckily it was only slightly over 60. Whew! I think triple digits would indicate a problem... happily, I'm not afflicted. Although I did warn Dennis that it might not always be a good idea to let me go to a fabric store alone from here on in! :)

I started a photography class this past Thursday. It's called Photo 101 and is being offered by Carsand-Moshers. I took a black & white film course last fall and it really got me turned onto taking pictures. Although I absolutely adored being in the dark room, I decided it would be wiser to invest in a digital camera. I bought a second-hand Nikon d70s and was stoked to finally own a digital SLR.

Well, there is definitely a difference between shooting film and digital. I know the basic rules are the same, but a digital camera has so many settings and buttons to fiddle with. Even though I had this awesome new-to-me camera, I found the quality of my photos was sliding. So I signed up for this course so I can unleash the power of my SLR. I've never been worried about the content of my photos, but I am always worried about the technical side. In ten weeks time, this shouldn't be a problem - hah!

This week we're only allowed to shoot on automatic. And never, ever with a flash. And of course, absolutely no computer alterations - not even cropping! I need to have 30 prints by this coming Thursday so today I was out and about with my camera. In fact, I intend to have my camera with me everywhere I go for the next little while... this will be a grand adventure!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Making Shady Progress

You may recall that I am in the process of making curtains for my front door. The original plan involved red and white fabric and the phrase "think bright thoughts." Well, you may have already noticed that my fabric choice has changed. When I was at Wal-Mart marveling over their funky fabric designs, I picked this one out for my front door. I thought it was a little more me.

My embroidery plans didn't change. I thought the pattern really suited the phrase so I kept it. My colour choice did though. I did the black wording when my fabric was to be red and white. The new colour scheme involved yellow wording.

I was pleased as punch during the creation of these two panels. I must say, everything was going swimmingly and I didn't run into any unexpected problems. Until I hung the darn thing in the window. Guess what? I don't like it - not one bit! (Scroll down, brace for the dissapointment...)

Now THAT is an unexpected problem. The curtains turned out exactly how I had envisioned them. And that is precisely the problem. They just don't look right. Also, there was a slight design glitch: I didn't line the white so when the sun shines through the window, you can see either a glow of yellow or a shadow of black shining through from the other side, depending on which side of the door you're on.

This means that I am now in rescue mode. The season premier of Heroes came on tonight so this is as far as I got (yes, I really did cut them down the middle). Here's hoping something good comes of this!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Made A Bag...

And it's pink! Well, half-pink anyway.

I adapted my bag from a free pattern offered on the Bernina website. They call it the Summer Serendipity Bag. For a newbie seamstress, the instructions are really easy to follow. It's also instant gratification in sewing terms, meaning it only took 3 hours from start to finish.

This is actually my second attempt with this pattern. I made my very first bag (ever) a few weeks ago. I was browsing through a few bookmarked projects and on a whim, at 11:30pm, decided to give this one a go. I hauled out some fabric I had laying around and started piecing it together. Seeing as it was almost midnight, I left out the part where you're supposed to line it, using either flannel or canvas. The result was a very nice, flow-y bag but after using it once, the seams on the strap began to fray and I learned a very important lesson: when they say make a liner to stabilize your project, do it. There's a reason for it.

My First Serendipity Bag Attempt!

Bound and determined to make my second bag sturdier, I picked two corduroy fabrics this time around. Which incidentally, I picked up at Wal-Mart much to my surprise. I didn't ever imagine Wal-Mart to have funky fabric, but I guess they do have the few odd choices. I also used the third layer to line the bag and strap.

Working with corduroy was more difficult than regular cotton because it's bulkier and harder to manipulate. It didn't help that I had the liner stuck in there too. So my seams ended up a bit wonkier than the first bag I made. I also discovered why it's so very important to always, always, always take out your straight pins instead of sewing them: if your needle hits one, it will snap and a little, tiny point will go flying, potentially blinding you if you don't wear glasses. Lesson learned!

In the end, I'm really pleased with the result. Between the liner and my sewing/back sewing/sewing like a maniac, I am positive this bag can carry 50 pounds, at least. For my next version, I think I will make the strap longer so you can wear it slung across your shoulder. I also might make a pocket for the outside and embroider something cute on it. We'll see what happens... rest assured you'll be the first to know. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Exploding Dog

Okay, this is not a sewing project. But it is design related and I absolutely adore it and think it's worth sharing. I would like to introduce you to the wonderful world of Exploding Dog. I stumbled upon this website one day as I clicked links down into the rabbit hole of the internet.

Exploding Dog is the genius of Sam Brown. He makes drawings of the titles you send him. This is a very simple formula of artist/viewer exchange which, in my opinion, Sam Brown masters.

People send him titles like "This makes me want to dance" and "It rained all weekend" and he creates drawings that are both innocent and clever. His pieces carry so much emotion - some of them heartbreaking, some of them laugh-out-loud funny. The catch is, he draws stick men, talking animals, robots and green monsters.

I love these posts so much that I've been inspired to do red robot, blue dog and green monster needlework pieces. I spent about an hour a week or so ago trying to stem stitch and satin stitch a robot and realized that either a) I need get wool to get the right effect or b) I need to learn a few more stitches that would be more appropriate. And surely some of you out there are thinking or c) I need to get a life.

Anyway, Sam Brown makes me grin like an idiot. And on a Friday, we could all use a little idiotic grinning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fabulous (?) Flickr

I worked a split today which leaves precious little time to devote to activities such as curtain-making. But I did manage to have a wonderful visit with my cousin Jonathan, whom I haven't seen in two years (because he lives in BC and that's not exactly convenient). I didn't want to leave you dedicated readers (haha) without a post, so I've created a Flickr account for your viewing pleasure.

People have been telling me for ages that Flickr is THE best site for photography enthusiasts. I don't know anything about that yet. I do know that signing up was painless which is always a plus. But I need to explore the site some more before passing any judgement.

I also read in Crafty Synergy that the best way to spread the word about your craft-based business is a three-fold approach: blogging, flickr and e-mailing. Well, I don't exactly have a craft-based "business" but let's not slam any doors on the universe, shall we?

So to peruse my photo collection, you can go here... I hope it works!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Front Door Needs Some Love

My front door has been staring me in the face for ages now. Well, since May anyway. It's easy to forget about it during the day, or when Dennis is home and we're happy worker bees at our respective machines. But when night falls and I'm home by myself, the absence of curtains becomes glaringly apparent. Sometimes I don't want the whole world (or a random passerby) to see what I'm doing!

So when I was clicking through Design*Sponge DIY Wednesdays, this project caught my eye and started my brain whirring. (Check it out here). I thought the idea of embroidering words on sheer curtains was endearingly simple and sweet. But I don't entirely dig sheer curtains. I shall use this fabric. <--- Purely consequence of being the only piece of fabric I have on hand that's big enough for the job. And because I want to start it NOW. Also, the local fabric store's hours don't jive with my work schedule over the next few days.

My plan is to embroider "think bright thoughts" on an off-white piece of fabric and then somehow incorporate it. I think it's a nice sentiment to see as you're going out the door. Let's see what happens!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is WonkyEye.

Hey! I feel like I should introduce myself to properly launch WonkyEye. That is, if blogs are 'launched.' I don't really know.

Anyway, this is me (and my amazing boyfriend Dennis).

Christine and Dennis in love.

We live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Where it's actually really warm in the summer and we hardly get any snow in the winter anymore, much to my chagrin. Luckily skating is just as much an indoor sport, although it does lose some of its charm when all you do is go around in circles.

I also have a dog, her name is Belle. She's 14 years old and still very spunky. She's an important member of our team to be sure.


We've lived together (Dennis and I... Belle and I have been roomies for the aforementioned 14 years) since May in an apartment that still doesn't have any pictures on the walls. Shameful, I know. But, it does have some other fun stuff, such as:

An awesome rug I ordered from Urban Outfitters.

A fish in the window!

Really big windows and a teddy bear on a chair.

A shower curtain from Home Depot that I maybe love a little too much.

In our free time (which is rare these days, with Dennis being a student and working part-time and me with my full-time waitressing gig), we like to watch movies, play video games, catch shows (nous adorons la musique! Ha! Another Canadian blessing, bilingualism) and play...


My existential crisis began at age 15 when my high school guidance counsellor asked me, "Christine, what do you want to do with your life?" Obviously I was meant for something great. Surely I was to be a key player in saving the world. My future career would be nothing short of amazing. Obviously.

Well I laboured under this misapprehension for 13 years. Yes, count them. A baker's dozen of years where I asked myself day in, day out, "What am I going to do with my life?"
This was not fun. It took me six years to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. I changed universities three times and my major eight, including but not limited to: plant science, public relations, clinical nutrition, biochemistry and classics. Yep, that would be the study of ancient history necessitating fluency in Latin or Greek.

Upon graduation, I lucked into a "real" government job. My experience there is a long and convoluted one. Suffice it to say, I was bored, uninspired and generally miserable. After three years and a lot of tears, I finally resigned. This was 2005.

I immediately did some travelling, of the North American variety.

Can't get any further without yer flippers!

The Badlands of South Dakota.

And I even hopped over the pond for a little jaunt to Scotland.

The Isle of Skye, Scotland. And no, I'm not photo shopped in here!

But mainly, I racked my brain, thinking of career options. And to be fair, annoying anyone who would listen (thanks Mom and Dad) with discussions of either my woe some plight or the current 24-hour plan for which I'm famous. At one point, in all seriousness, I wanted to open a cafe that sold only chocolate-based goods. I believe it closely followed a viewing of Chocolat.

Since 2005, I have started and quit (quitting being a forte of mine) a number of programs and courses: reflexology, holistic nutrition, English and history courses via correspondence, public relations and flash-based web design. I've also taken a number of photography and sewing courses through the local art college. Though I don't think these have in any way helped in the development of my skills. To pay the bills, I have been serving at a restaurant downtown. Which I love. And hate.

So recently Mom & Dad have re-discovered their relationship with God. Not with a vehement born-again kind of vigour, but in a quiet, peaceful renewal. Their new found peace peaked my interest because as I close in on 30, the one thing I long for most in my life is peace. I started doing some exploring on my own, and while doing some reading I stumbled on this little gem of advice from our old friend Saint Matthew.

"Therefore do not be anxious about your life... do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

Suddenly I realized that I had been living the last 13 years in the future. I had been building my life around an un-met husband, unborn children and the eventual change I was so importantly going to create in the world.

Well, that's kind of lame, don't you think?

Something clicked. You know how when you're single and wishing with all your heart for a boyfriend you never meet a soul? You think you're doing everything in your power to put yourself out there but never to any success? And then when you decide to forget it and become happy with your own self... presto! The love of your life shows up on your doorstep.

That's the approach I've decided to take with finding a career. Well, it's a two-pronged approach really. Step one is to get over myself. Maybe... just maybe, I'm not going to change the world (gasp). Perhaps my most important role on this planet is in the form of best friend, loving daughter, sister or even, dare I say it, friendly waitress.

Step two is to forget about it! I'm going to focus on doing things that make me happy. Things that I've had an interest in for a long, long time. (See exhibit A).

Exhibit A: Christine, age 10, finally gets her own warp on her Mother's loom. Happiness pursues.

But for some reason, didn't think I could do. I wasn't creative enough. I'm not an artist. I don't wear second-hand clothing and my practicality and logic overrule everything I do. Also, I don't believe myself to be an original thinker... yet. Most of my creative endeavours have been stolen from someone else's genius. But I've decided to let that go... have you ever heard of a man named Bob Dylan?

I'm hoping that by forgetting about finding the perfect career, I will find one. A little reverse physchology on the universe so to speak. In the meantime, my plan is to lighten up and have some fun with my camera, fabric and thread... and document it for a laugh. Welcome to WonkyEye!