Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine

Man, I love the holiday season. I really do, all the snow and joy and laughter and tasty holiday baking...

This year there isn't so much snow; we're really seeing the effects of global climate change around these parts. I have vague memories of the not so distant past standing in a snow storm this time of year. I look outside now and the sun is shining down on my garden in the front of this new house that is still blooming. Yes, we've had frost, and a bit of snow. But apparently not enough to take down the mighty mutant snap dragons the previous tenants planted in the front garden. It's currently only -1C out there. I can very clearly recall my city used to have some of the worst winter cold snaps this time of year, when it would hit -28C in a blink of an eye and then add in the wind chill and snow, you were looking at some serious frost bite conditions. Although, we've never had tons of snow here like we did back on the lake where I grew up, but they haven't gotten much yet this winter either. I honestly worry when the winter is so dry like this, because I live in semi-arid desert region of British Columbia, without a good snowfall we can easily see drought in the summer time. Then again, last winter we got a walloping for winter weather in late January through February, which was a little odd considering. This year I don't even know what's going to happen.

I've done lots and lots of holiday baking this year, but none of it seems to have lasted 'til Christmas. I already ate a big chunk of the almond roca I made last night (that's a healthy breakfast, right?) but none of my 4 dozen walnut crescent cookies made it past a weekend in my house. I have a terrible sweet tooth, holiday baking is bad for me. I've gained back all the weight I lost over the summer, and a bit extra. Dammit. So the holiday baking is giving me glee in the baking and eating part, but then the weight gain is not making me happy at all. I still want to make some butter tarts and maybe some more almond roca. I'd have to go get some more almonds though.

So I guess there's been some stress on me this season, what with not working and all. Still. Big ol' sigh on that front. Then again, it's kind of nice to not have to worry about going to work on top of all the other holiday stresses, like family and gift buying and wrapping. I don't know when wrapping presents became a stress for me, but there you have it. I still haven't done it. The biggest stress I think is Christmas shopping, because I hate it and it's still not done yet. I'm one of those people who would rather have all my shopping done for Christmas before the 10th of December. I'm like that. But Mr. C is more of the procrastinating type, and when we're utilizing his cash flow for presents, I'm kind of at his mercy when it comes to shopping. He hates shopping. I keep trying to tell him that waiting until the last minute only makes things worse, but I don't know if he really has been thinking about that. And I hate having to last minute wrap gifts bought on the 23rd in a mad rush in a store filled with insane people who haven't bought a single thing yet and are freaking out and paying no gorram attention to anyone else in the store.

This problem I have developed over shopping in crowds and stores like Wal-Mart stems from having no personal sense of spacial awareness. I walk into people constantly, turn around and run into them if they are behind me, I talk with my hands and hit them in the face as they walk by, or whack them with my jacket as I'm taking it off when I come in the store or putting it on when I leave. I really try super hard to pay attention to others in public spaces, but in crowds I'm a complete clumsy mess. And around the holiday time, it gets so much worse. It gets on my nerves, because I try so damn hard not to get in other peoples way and to pay attention to their personal bubble, and when someone else doesn't pay attention and is spacing out and I accidentally bump into them as I turn around to look at the end cap display, they act like I'm the asshole. I'm really not a jerk, I'm not that person who doesn't give a shit that you are there, it's just that I have no ability to sense when people are in my space. I have the smallest personal bubble ever, it's not really my fault.

Man, I'd make a good target for a pick pocket.

I have, however, finally finished my nieces teddy bear she was supposed to get when she was born. Whoops, she's like one and a half now. Oh well, it's lovely and she still gets it and I know she will like it because it's soft and cuddly like her. And it's the same size she is. It's so pretty and tealy blue, one of my favourite colours. He has grey feet and grey ears and grey patches on his eyes, which haven't been appliquéd on yet. On his foot pads and paw pads I used some of the scrap paisley fabric from my 50's wrap dress I made back in July this year. If my camera were still alive, I'd take a picture for you to see the beautiful teddy bear. But it's dead, sadly, so I guess you will never look on the glory that is teal teddy bear with no eyes.

Anyway, yah. I think that's all that I feel the need to say. And, just in case I don't make another post for awhile,

/end holiday caps attack

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Personal History of Keeping Fish

So shortly before I moved, I had 3 aquariums in my home, a 10gal, a 20 gal and a 40gal long. They were never very stable, no matter how hard I tried, well all excepting the 10gal which I had for quite a long time before it too finally became a problem. That was due to an outbreak of horrible murderous internal parasites, that got so bad, I had no choice but to go nuclear and clean the bacterial slate in all my set ups.

When I first began keeping fish, I had a betta I named Cid Fishious. The thing lived for a really long time, and I didn't know a thing about how to properly keep an aquarium. I washed the tank out with soapy water once a month depositing Cid into a 500ml glass, rinsed it in boiling hot water and reset it every time I cleaned it. My betta was probably exposed to all sorts of soap residues from the dish soap I used, and worse it was exposed to high ammonia due to the tank recycling probably every month or however so often I decided to clean the tank. Some times it sat stagnant for months before I cleaned it at all, and the water would evaporate to almost empty. That betta lived for four years or so and convinced me that looking after fish was easy, despite how terrible the conditions were in that teenage tank. That set up was in a 2gal hex tank with an under gravel filter, one of those $20 Petcetera starter kits with a tacky plastic plant and marbles mixed with the gravel that I wanted to be sparkly, thus I washed them. I never had a problem with algae in that tank, or bacteria. Once my betta got a bit of fin rot. I scrubbed the crap out of the tank, and shocked it with Melafix. Cid kept on trucking. Then, finally one day I was impatient and after soaking the gravel in boiling hot water I didn't wait for  it to cool before re-assembling the tank. The water was way too hot when I dumped the fishy in, and poor Cid went into shock. He got sick and died soon after.

So then, after a few trials of keeping other betta's the same way I kept Cid with no luck, and an attempt at keeping a few guppies, I was given a 10gal starter tank. This tank had a simple in tank cartridge filter, the kind you load up with washed activated carbon and filter foam, add an aeration stone and a pump and its done. I didn't supplement the filtration at all, or cycle the tank, and dumped in one algae barb and one tiger barb. They died when we were on vacation, and then my father in law gave me some plants from his set up and a few Rosey Barbs. I wasn't a big fan of the Roseys, but Mr. C named them Legion because they were fairly aggressive. The size of the tank really limited adding any more fish, 6 Rosey Barbs would eventually grow large and take up the majority of the tank. But I wasn't truly happy with the fish at first, but they were hearty and didn't need a lot of care and that was fortunate because I didn't put too much effort in. I just let the tank alone, and it flourished for 2 years, and eventually became quite gross until we moved.

This time, I put a bit more effort into the 10gal tank and began to actually like Legion, they had some strange behaviours and reminded me of trout a bit, and they were really pretty in the sunnier living room. So I got a Chinese algae eater in that tank after Legion kept killing anything else I put in with them (all seperately: 1 otto, 1 bushynose pleco, another otto). It was the only fish the barbs didn't kill because it was just as aggressive as they were, and together the fish got bigger and healthier.

Then I got the 20 gal and decided that I wanted to set up a tank with mollies. It didn't work. I read more about aquariums, more about keeping them. I found out about cycling, and how long it takes for bacteria to establish. I got a waterfall style filter, thinking it would be superior to the in tank filter, and also a bubbler. Then I put a sandy substrate in for no other reason than I liked it. I cycled the system for exactly 4 days before I got impatient and bought a bunch of fish, added about every other day for a week or two. I put an african frog with 5 neon tetras and 6 guppies, an otto, 3 balloon mollies, a sailfin mollie and hillstream loach. It wasn't the best combination, as all those fish need different things to be healthy. And it was a little over stocked for the tank size. Also, I bought all the guppies and all the tetras at the same time, and added them into the tank. There was a lot of death in that ammonia filled nightmare, but I didn't know why everything was dying. I hadn't really read a lot about the ammonia cycle and over stocking and stocking to fast.

I wound up getting a killer deal on a beautiful 40gal long tank with a stand and everything I needed but substrate, buying the whole thing used from a friend of a friend for $100. So then I moved my 10gal set up into the 40, and added a bunch of new fish that probably didn't mesh well. I only cycled the tank for like, a week without fish and only adding "Cycle" to the tank. I didn't test the parameters for anything other than Nitrates, but put all the water from the 10gal into the 40 when I added the barbs and Chinese Algae eater (who Mr. C named "Visagi The Suck"). I added in more fish, some strangely aggressive Danios my friends gave me because they were ramming the tetras in their tank that would school with Legion. Then I tried adding glass cat fish, which was an expensive error because they were just too delicate for the rammy danios and the mean barbs. Then I added Apple Snails, which the Chinese algae eater would pick up with his sucker and drop on the rocks, and then they both were eaten.

Eventually, mysterious illness crept up on all my fish. After a couple hundred dollars of fish death, I put live plants in the 20gal thinking it might help the aquarium flourish. I added salt, because I had mollies and guppies together, but didn't realise the salt might harm the other fish. I put things together that well, might have been able to survive but with my lack of knowledge didn't get much of a chance. So, as I read more I began to separate my 20gal into the 10gal, putting the 3 balloon mollies and the sailfin in the smaller set up. Soon I had some weird white worms all over the inside of the tank. I had no idea where the freaking things were coming from. The fish kept dying, going all stiff. I learned later that this was ammonia poisoning, and I should have introduced the fish to the tank slower, and been testing the parameters and doing more frequent water changes. But I thought it must be the worms, so I treated the tank for parasites over and over again. The fish would not stay alive, and eventually the 10 gal tank was the first to die. I still never learned what those weird white worms were, or if they were contributing to the problem or if they were relatively harmless.

Then I bought sick fish from a local pet store *cough* Petland *cough* and lost everything else within a matter of months.

I thought I might have bypassed it in my 40gal tank, the danios had all survived except the one neon pink one I acquired. It had been a little bit gimpy anyway. The longfin and the two zebras survived. None of the barbs did, nor did the snails or the glass catfish. So I added krebensis to the tank, again donated by Mr. C's dad. They were gorgeous and I loved them, but then things started to go weird in that tank too. The danios went first, just dying one day. The algae eater ate them before I even realised they were gone, he was voracious. Then the krebensis (named John Johnson, John Bigjohn, John Littlejohn, John Lithgow and Bob) began to get some of the weirdest illnesses I had ever encountered in an aquarium. First, velvet. I thought I had treated it, then ick came along. After the ich, one of the John's got popeye. Then Bob died mysteriously. Popeyed John lost his eye, and another John got hole in the head. This all happened in a span of a few weeks until all the Johns were dead and only Visagi remained. He never stood a chance, and died shortly before we moved.

From 3 tanks, down to 0. Hundreds of dollars wasted due to poor research and over excitement and impatience. This time around, I'm going a lot slower. And so far, so good, I think. Although, all my initial guppies didn't survive the first stage of the ammonia cycle, I didn't really expect them too, they were inexpensive feeder guppies. I added them first, after the tank sat cycling for about 2 weeks. After a month, I added two julii cories. I lost a julii cory last month, which made me really sad. But now I have to pepper corys that are very active and like to hang with the remaining julli. I still haven't decided who else is going to live with the three cories, but I don't want to take out the waterfall filter so whatever lives there needs to be okay with the current.

I also have the 20gal slowly cycling. Some strangeness occurred within the first week in the 20gal. I was using cycle to start the process, with only a simple foam filter in the tank to begin, and no plants. After the first few days, the water got quite milky and began to smell. Then, on the substrate I could see deposits of what looked like cotton. There were two, one was about 4" in diameter and the other a little smaller. There isn't much current, so I assumed it was just the bacterial bloom settling and let it be for another two days. Then I looked it up when it seemed to get bigger, and turns out its most likely a fungus or bacteria, everything I read indicated it was harmless. There aren't any fish in there, but to be on the safe side I shocked the tank with tea tree oil for a few days and did a few 50% water changes to clear it all up. When I did the water changes, the stuff went all stringy somewhere between cobwebs and snot, but it definitely cleared up after 3 water changes over six days. Then I planted the tank three days ago, Mr. C's dad just culled out a bunch of java fern plantlets from his aquariums and gave me a few other interesting plants like a tall val and some nice grass. I did another water change today. The water still has a faint smell about it from the tea tree oil but its looking nice and clean, and I'm still going to keep changing out the water if it doesn't go nice and crystal clear until I get the new filter I want. I also decided on impulse to put some of the tank water from the 10 gal into the 20, just because I figured it wouldn't hurt to get some ammonia in the tank to help kill any of the weird bacteria left in there. I don't know why it seemed like a great idea at the time, but it did. I also intend to get another one of those in tank cartridges like I had in my old 10 gal that held up so well, because I think it might be good in tandem with the foam filter for a betta fish like I intend to add. Bettas don't do well with waterfalls, and I forgot I had an undergravel filter kit which probably would have been the best for a betta in a community. I already plan on adding some glass catfish and perhaps some ghost shrimp to the set up. I'm going to seed the new filter in the 10 gal tank, just to speed up the process and hopefully promote a healthier environment this time around.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say about boring fish tanks for now. I'm gunna go watch Walking Dead now, because I still haven't caught up!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

When it comes to Occupy Hat, I'm in the 1%

Did you know that 99% of people only wear 1% of the worlds hats?

Okay, so lets talk some Occupy today, mostly because today I haven't said anything about it yet here or anywhere else online. I have opinions, and they demand to be shared! But only because the internet is a mute friend who wants to tell me to shut up but can't say it.

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, I've been one confused left oriented political minded gal. At first I thought "all right! Yes! It is time for change! Let us protest!" And thought I might be able to give my support to any and all occupy movements. Yes, I'll admit I am a person who is greatly moved by the history of political protest in North America, and thought at first it's about time that the people started standing up for their rights again. I think that since the 70's there's been a state of ambivalence towards government policy in some facets, and people have become docile, complacent in their hard-earned rights and freedoms. Most of the rights my generation takes for granted (women's right to vote, social equality, children's rights, and even the right to free speech, for example) are all relatively new historically speaking. People had to fight for these rights, and as a society we have grown complacent with allowing governmental policy to alienate and distort our basic freedoms. I do believe that the economy is going to hell in both Canada and the US because we are so strongly intertwined as nations, and I do believe that something's gotta give. It's obvious, the people are unhappy. And, I am currently unemployed and have been so for six months now. So I thought, because of all the convoluted information I was getting about the occupy movement to begin with, that I should look into it more to better understand what I was considering supporting. I went in with the hopeful idealism that perhaps much of the confusion was derived from right wing propaganda. What I learned is that the whole thing is a big fucking mess.

I'm all for protesting, I'm all for standing up for rights and I'm definitely for trying to solve the problems of a dissipating middle class. I do see problems with our government, problems with our electoral processes in Canada and the US, and problems with prohibition and the decline of social services. I agree that homosexuals have every right to marriage that straight couples have. I believe in free speech, and I definitely believe that the government has more to fear in the people they govern than the people should fear their respective governments.  But trying to shove all these problems and more under the single "occupy _____" protest sign simply makes no sense to me. What does it even mean any more? With all these subcategories for change, they have lost the heart of the protest, and the point of all of it, and my support.

There's a really good video on YouTube about the points of the current economic decline in the US that I honestly only saw by reading a article talking about the occupy protesters who are hurting their own cause. I'll let you in on a big secret: most of my exposure to current events comes from humour news and articles I read online. Stephen Colbert and John Stewart keep me well informed. I had heard only a very minute amount about the occupy wall street protests until I read this article, and the author really expressed how I felt about it then and still feel about it now. You can read the article here. There is another article on that also hit home with me, talking about how society affected the occupy generation (mine) which also shed some light on the whole state of the protests. Read that one here.

Anyway, Robert Reich is the man in the video. He seems intelligent as he explains very succinctly the problems the economy has been facing in the US currently. The problems are very similar here in Canada, although they aren't quite the same. If the occupy protesters in the US stayed true to this message, using the simplified explanation to base their platform on, perhaps people could easily understand what they are trying to say. But, someone allowed Occupy to become an open forum for the nation's grievances, and no two protesters will say they are protesting the same thing.

That is, until someone started waving the 99% in the faces of the media.

Now, I agree that there is something fucked about that statistic. There's something very wrong there on a scary level. But again, the protesters I've seen are going about using that statistic all wrong. Instead of educating people about the 99% and what it means, they are just throwing it in peoples' face like a label. And no one wants to be labelled. Everyone I know is in the 99%, I'm not lying, but walking up to someone and yelling in their face "you're poor!" only makes them upset, and makes them dislike you. Trust me, I'm going to have friends take offence to me calling them poor. I'm poor and I hate admitting it myself. I admit as I type on my personal laptop, with a roof over my head and food in my fridge. Yes, I'm poor but by a first world standard. I'm surviving, I've got heat and food and shelter so I'm not really that poor. Thus, telling me I'm poor might get my hackles up. Understand? If I tell you I am poor, that's not a problem. Tell me I am poor, and I say "fuck you too, asshat!"

Now the other issue I have with Occupy, is I am Canadian. The problems we have here in the great white north are not the the same as our southern neighbours. Tagging along with the Occupy protests here in this country makes little sense to me. The system is different, our governments are separate. Wake up people, you don't live in America, you're Canadian. Our problems, albeit similar, are NOT the same. By taking up the occupy mantle all you have done is convolute the message further, by tacking on a whole new list of grievances.

The other thing that really bugs me about occupy is it seems more and more like the protesters are protesting their inability to find "good jobs". What is a good job anyway? I just went through a career decision making course this past spring, and it opened my eyes to the current job market. The degree you were told you need? It might help, but you didn't need it, because even with it you are still going to have to fight your way into the career you want. Many people have spent thousands of dollars getting degrees towards getting the good job, and then don't get it because someone with real world experience won it over you. Protesting that you can only find work flipping burgers is ridiculous. Flip those fucking burgers and just keep looking. At least you're getting real world experience. An employer might look at your resume and go "Oh, you are currently employed at McD's, and are in a management position. That shows stick-to-it-ivness, and that you are a manager means you are capable. I will steal you!" I've always found it easier to get a job when I already have a job, even if it's a dumb one. I'm not saying that having the piece of paper identifying that you in fact have taken that 4 years to solidify your knowledge in the field is a bad thing, but it doesn't always make it easier, it doesn't give you a foot in the door. You still have to network and throw yourself in the face of the job market with a neon sign over your head that says "I'm Awesome! Hire me!" and hope your sign is brighter than the other buddy applying. Highschool and college are not the real world. They are nothing like it. Real world experience beats paper, like scizzors. And who doesn't respect a classic rags to riches story of the boy working in the hardware store who really wants to be an actor and gets discovered at random to play the heart throb role of his life? See, even Harrison Ford had to start doing physical labour.

I didn't go to college. I've taken like, 2 courses and dropped out. I'm that gal, it's true. I've applied to go, been accepted, and then didn't go because the $ sign freaked me out, and the insecurity in my own ability to later pay off that $. I know that I will probably have to work a blue-collar menial labour job for most if not the rest of my life. Hell, I'm only 24 and I've worked twice as many jobs as my fiancée who is 35. So don't get me wrong, I'm not complacent in working for a shit hole company either. Sometimes the thought of having to work in retail until I die sends me into rage or despair, or a very fun and volatile combination of the two. Perhaps I should go spend thousands of dollars I don't have, and take out thousands of dollars in loans that I might not be able to pay back to get a piece of paper saying I am qualified for something. But realistically? I don't know if that's ever going to happen. I dream of being a published author and a designer one day. Do I really need a piece of paper saying that someone has graded me well on such subjective topics? I mean, fuck I'm an artist, and it's what I want to be. I've resigned myself to the struggle that is art. Hell, perhaps I will never be recognized in my life, big whoop. Neither was Van Gough or Lovecraft. But protesting that fact? That just makes you look like a spoiled brat who wont put the legwork into your achievements.

I'm not saying the people shouldn't rally for change, I mean in the end we all want a good job, and the good life. But unfortunately, the world doesn't work like that, you have to put in what you expect to get out. There are no winners and losers in life, just livers. And I don't mean the organ. Even if you are poor, even if you have to break your back to work for a pay-check every day of your life, you are still alive. You beat death another day, so in my books that's a win. It shouldn't matter if someone else got the job you wanted, you are still living. You're a liver. You win. So what some asshole makes more money than you. Find happiness in other things than the material.

When it comes to the Occupy movement, I'm lost. I love the idea of fighting to maintain the struggling middle class. I don't want to see the western world as I know it collapse, I love my comforts and freedoms. The economy is going to hell, and the people are unhappy. They are restless and angry, and we have the internet which has taught us we all have a voice to be heard by someone. Revolution is only a natural progression of these kinds of problems. But what is a revolution without any solutions to the problems? To me, the worst part of Occupy is the list of grievances without suggested solutions. We can all sit and bitch about the state of things all we want, but we have to have a plan for change for any protest to work. And I'll say it again, something's gotta give. But Occupy will never work.

Why will Occupy never work? Because of stupid people jumping on the bandwagon, convolution the message. Because it makes young people, with the best intentions and the biggest dreams, look like spoiled brats who don't want to get a job. Because of people building tent cities, partying and rioting and OD'ing in the name of Occupy. Because of rumours about officials burning literature connected with the occupy protest, which prove unfounded. Propaganda is coming out of this on both sides, and it makes people like me throw our hands in the air and back away rather than get involved. Call me jaded, but this movement is going to be flushed like most other movements reserved for the bathroom.

You want to occupy something?

Occupy Hats.

Did you know that only 99% of the worlds population wears 1% of the worlds hats? That's a staggering figure.


In the end, I see myself as a hopeful person. An optimist. I really really do hope that on some level Occupy works, and that someone in power will see that people are restless and start trying to do something about it. Although it's received a lot of negative attention, I hope others will take what started here and simplify the message, and work on solutions. All these problems DO need to be addressed, but no one likes a whiner. Roll up your sleeves and think out solutions before you open your mouth again, and keep it simple. This is only a beginning, all Revolutions start somewhere. Yes, Occupy is a joke. But, despite my belief it will not work, I do see it opening peoples eyes to a flawed system that is begging for an overhaul.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Here's a NaNo there's a NaNo fuzzy NaNo funny NaNo...

Wait. That's a llama.

This month is NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writting Month for those of you not savvy with the slang). They call it a month for literary abandon, but I call it a month of writing where quantity triumphs over quality. But that's what I like about it, it makes me stop focusing so much on how good the work is I'm producing, and to start thinking about just getting it written. Besides, the editing process is for making it make sense, right? The month is over half way done, and I'm doing pretty well I'd like to think. I broke 30,000 words this week. The goal is 50,000. That's a decent goal for one month of daily writing, but I know it wont actually be my entire book. I'm a little wordy, and even though I'm over 30,000 words my characters still haven't even embarked on their quest. Of course I'm writing fantasy, it's like writing candy for my fingers as I type. The best part of fantasy is the world creation. I have a dream to be considered one of the best world-creating authors, like Dave Duncan, George R.R. Martin, Tolkein and H.P. Lovecraft. *swoon* their worlds are dreamy...

I googled "opalite shards beads" last week to try and find a picture of what the opalite I purchased looks like to show a friend of mine, and the top three pictures that appeared in the image search were my Jellyfish earrings! I was pretty stoked. I did a little happy dance, and then listened to some Ida Maria (my new-to-me musical ear candy) so that I wasn't doing a dance to nothing. Then I got to work on an order of 4 earrings for x-mas gifts a friend of mine is purchasing. I really REALLY have to get on making a bunch of those to plop in the local gift shop, and get cracking on a companion site for my jewellery so people can maybe order them online.

I don't know if I put anything on this blog yet about my snowflake earring design. Here's a picture!

 These are the first two prototypes, before I learned how much better the flakes look with a little starching and some random coloured beads crocheted in. I like the look of the snowflakes with the lapis lazuli dangling down from the icicles, and the opalite looks great against dark hair because it glows kind of blue like ice. I'm working out a decent price for these beauties, but I think they may wind up being the same as the Jellyfish. Although they take less time to crochet, they have a little more detail and a whole secondary step which involves starching and drying. So if you're from where I'm from expect to see a couple pairs make it to The Golden Buddha down town. Or if you want to order direct from me, and save a bit of money, let me know.

I think that's all for now, blog readers! I'll be back in a few days with some updates, and pictures of my new super awesome crochet design. I'll give you a hint: it's a spider web! Wait, that's not a hint at all, that's telling you what it is. Darn.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

As I was colouring my hair by myself, I was kind of regretting having long hair. I mean, I love the way long hair looks on me, but I'm beginning to loathe my current haircut. Especially when colouring it by myself. Considering how difficult it was to do myself last time with this colour (Loreal Paris UV3 -  Ultra Violet Black) and knowing how runny the stuff is compared to some other products out there that are much easier to use, maybe I should have considered a different colour, but I REALLY liked the intensity of this one, and it seems to have pretty good coverage. Maybe I should have asked someone for help. But honestly, there are some things I prefer to do myself. Not because I enjoy the challenge, although to say I don't enjoy challenging myself would be a lie. It's more a combination of not wanting to burden other people, and not trusting other people.

I love my friends, I do. But some things I just don't trust to other people. And those things are usually fairly cosmetic. Figures. I don't necessarily think of myself as a shallow person, but when it comes to my appearance I hate it when I don't look the way I want too. It makes me feel uncomfortable. And if I'm doing something, like getting my hair coloured by some one else and they screw it up I get pretty angry with them. Honestly, I get angry at myself too when I screw up something like my hair colour or cut, but at the same time I can use the excuse of doing it myself to justify a few flubs, 'cuz I'm not a professional. But when a professional screws up, I get super pissed. And yes, in the case of dying my hair professionals have screwed up way worse than I ever have on my own. And in the case of friends? Well, I think the reason I don't trust them with my hair is because most of my friends just aren't into the whole beauty thing. And the ones who are don't trust themselves enough to do it and get it professionally done themselves, or I have seen their mistakes and well, don't want to have a similar experience (sorry gals!).

And this whole train of thought got me thinking about my whole quest for identity when I was a teenager. We all quest for our identities at that age, although I'm a super geek who would refer to it as a quest. When I was younger, I wanted to so very badly be that cool feminist intellectual, with wit and a laissez-fair style. I wanted to be Janeane Garofalo. Cynical, witty, dry and oh so uncool that I became cool, so anti-trend I would set the trends. But when we are young, we don't really spend a lot of time reflecting on who we actually are, we just focus on who we want to be. And I didn't ever really understand the distinction until I got interested in style and fashion.

You see, style and fashion taught me that it was okay to have self expression, to like things because I liked them, whether they were popular or not.

(Excuse me, the timer just went off, so I have to go rinse my dye out.)
*twenty minutes later*
Aaah, and the teal menace is gone! (Not that I disliked the teal. But my last highlighting job was only so-so and as it faded, it looked worse and worse...)


My point is, that for me, my self discovery was very much intertwined with my style discovery. It was through clothing that I learned to be myself. To mix patterns and colours boldly, to dress like an insane person one day, and the next dress demure. Through a lot of trial and error, I became more and more self aware. I became the owner of my own opinions on what I liked and didn't like. It's strange now, but when I look back all I really wanted was to be a non-conformist, and fit in with all the other non-conformists. You know, be just like everyone who wasn't just like everyone else. And when I finally "gave up" and "sold out" and "bought in" I all of a sudden gained a lot of personal freedom. And to think, pop culture was telling me that being outside of the system gave us freedom, but being inside of it actually made me feel like I could be more free.

Then one day, I realised it wasn't a choice between one or the other. That I could still be a little goth one day, and a brightly coloured pin-wheel the next. That I could still watch popular sit-coms AND at the same time watch the newest anime to hit Canada straight from Japan. I could still listen to indy music, and rock out to the classics, while on the same playlist jam to the top 40. Most importantly, I could still be intelligent and enjoy style. I could wear pants and a skirt, but never at the same time. I tried that, once. Never again.

I always thought the fashion system, the beauty, the all of that, was bad. I thought it set a poor example, that it made girls starve themselves and have low self esteem and become sluts to fill the void. But you know, it never made me compromise my morals. Loving clothing never made me hate myself, watching a size 0 model never made me want to be a size 0. Fashion taught me that the reason they started using such tiny ass models was because it was cheaper. Marilyn Monroe is still considered a sex symbol, and she wasn't tiny. Even fashion tries to be frugal, although you'd think by their designer prices they weren't. But to me that's a problem with inflation and honestly, society in general. And you can't blame all of fashion for big business. Inflation is everywhere, life costs money, the whole system is broken, recession blah blah... but that isn't the fault of fashion.

The message I take from style, from fashion, is to be yourself, express yourself, find what you like and make it your own. Sure, some things may be out of your price range when it comes to style, but there's a million different takes on what fashion should be and there's a lot of affordable nice things too. There's designers who wont dress girls over a size 8, and there's others who wont dress a girl under a size 8. It's all about expression, it's all about finding who you are, and expressing it through the way you look. And when you look good, you feel good. And that's a matter of pride. Who gives a shit if other people don't like the way you look, if you like the way you look, then you feel like you look good. You've expressed yourself, made a statement, and it almost makes you feel a little more courageous as a result.

I know it seems like such a simple idea, but it actually isn't. Trust me, as women we grow up thinking that you can only be one way or the other. You can be vapid and vain and popular, or you can be uncool and intellectual. That's it, there's no middle ground. Well, the day I learned that there was a middle ground was the day I realised that I am fucking amazing in my own right, I'm beautiful, and don't need to be defined by labels even if I buy them.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pita Chips and Hummus, Let's Be Friends FOREVER. Until I Eat You.

So I'm sitting here, eating my yummy lunch of pita chips, hummus and Italian wedding soup thinking how ridiculous it is that the whole bag of mini-pitas I bought was $1.75, and how quick they toast up and make the equivalent of $5.00 worth of a bag of pita chips. Being fugal has never been more delicious. And it's probably healthier too. That being said, I've been thinking about other things than delicious frugality today, the main thing being branding.

Frankly, I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm trying to work on this whole business plan thing for getting my designs out there to sell and making a name for myself, a brand. And right now, my working business name is ... horrible. I hate it. It's so... cute. I mean, it sounds like a company that makes jewellery in a small town and sells it at a gift shop. Which is, ironically, exactly what I'm currently doing but that's not the point! I want a name that will grow with my designs, and that feels accessible to the people I design for. Right now, the only saleable pieces I have are my Jellyfish earrings, which are fun and whimsical, and the current name I'm using for my "company" -- Little Biggs Designs -- suits them in a silly girly way. But what about when I start getting some saleable pieces of say, the Cream Soda Shorts? Or the Wrap Skirt? Little Biggs Designs is just not a name that speaks to me, and I don't think it speaks to my customers either.

I've been thinking a lot about my client, who I am designing for. And honestly, my niche is in the semi-geeky quirky girl, the kind of woman who cares about her appearance, but doesn't give a shit about what's "on trend" exactly. She's the kind of girl who would wear a corset as street wear, who wears retro head phones while listening to classic rock, who paints her nails to glam up her look, and then lets them chip away rather than removing it. It might be said her style is a little laissez-faire, and layers are her friend. She loves piercings, and tattoos, yet would still gleefully raid her grandmothers closet for vintage pieces of awesome. My client loves the idea of reclaimed clothing, and organic cloth, but will still wear polyester if it's rad enough. She also says rad. And she is a living rainbow.

Then it occurred to me, I am designing for myself.

And I'm a bit of a hipster, aren't I?

But anyway, after thinking a lot about that, I'm trying to come up with something that speaks to me on a few different levels. I've been getting a lot of ideas from people in my life, well input more than ideas. A lot of the input has been helpful in finding a direction, but some of it is derailing me. And now I'm a little stuck. A friend of mine who works in web design and print design gave me a few pointers on dealing with the internet, and how I want to make my business name something Google searchable, related to the product I'm selling. His exact example was "if someone is looking for edgy awesome earrings, and they Google that the first thing Google will pull up is EdgyAwesome Designs giving it most points for relating to the search." My current business name will not come up in that search, unless I inundate the site itself with text that says "Edgy" and "Awesome" all over it. Which I am not adverse to doing.

Right now, I'm stuck on one idea I'm particularly fond of, but it has nothing to do with anything I've made. But it sounds artsy and I kind of like it.

Maybe I should just call my business Terribly Titled too, because I apparently am no good at titles...

Friday, 14 October 2011

I've never understood the expression sick as a dog.

I am not feeling well. Went to the burlesque show last night, and although it was probably the best one yet I couldn't stay for the whole show. After the use of a smoke machine and some angle grinders on stage, I was having trouble breathing. And I decided I wanted to drink a whiskey sour, and that was also a mistake when combining with hootin' and hollarin' for the girls when I already had a sore throat to begin with. Then combine the random waves of vertigo and the fact that where I was sitting was right under a very cold fan, I started to get chills even when the fan wasn't running. Today I'm running a bit of a fever as a result, an my throat has blisters. I hate it when that happens.

So I'm taking it easy today, drinking some herbal remedy tea made by this company, that if you are in Canada and don't believe in taking cough medicine I highly suggest trying it. I've been able to find it at all sorts of grocery stores, Save On Foods carries it. It's not that I don't believe in cough medicine, it works for some people. But I find when I have a mild cold or flu that when I take alcohol and sugar based remedies, it only makes the symptoms worse when the medicine wares off and before I know it I have a sinus infection or strep throat or bronchitis again. Sugars and alcohols only increase the bodies acidity, making it hard for the body to fight infection on it's own. So although the cough medicine may make the symptoms feel better, it's making the illness worse. I'm also eating probiotic yogurt with honey and almond granola, because honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and yogurt helps reduce acidity. And it's just super yummy and easy to eat when you are feeling icky.

Anyway, other than feeling sick I'm pretty happy about this week. Made some money selling the Lace Jellyfish and only have 1 pair left in store, so I'm making more. I was super stoked when I realised I'm turning a profit on the things, I've made back what I've spent on supplies already! Now I just need to get a bunch of stock made and get serious with selling them online too. I also need to work out some new and fun designs, keeping with the crochet lace look because I want some consistency. I also want to gather some supplies for more shell and feather hair pins. So many ideas! I'm also working on a few upcycled items, like fingerless gloves and legwarmers, and some cool ideas I have for vests made from denim. Hopefully I can get my butt in gear to get enough stock and a bit of money down on it to consider doing my own booth at the farmers market.

But today, I'm not going to worry about any of it, except maybe crocheting some jellyfish while I relax and watch Netflix. Which is getting so much better here in Canada than it was when I first signed up! So many amazing TV shows are on it now, like X-Files and Buffy, and even some newer stuff like Walking Dead. And the movie selection has expanded. I had just read an article about how Netflix lost liscencing in the states, and then all of a sudden it got better in Canada. My other plans for the day include finishing Storm of Swords (book three in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series also now known as the inspiration for the HBO series Game of Thrones). I started reading the series like, a month and a bit ago. It took me awhile to get through the first two books, but it's taken me less than a week to read through the third one. I'm probably going to have to run to Bookland tomorrow to buy the next one, because I don't want to stop until I'm caught up. I should also probably do dishes and laundry, but the illness says no to that! I tidied up my sewing room this morning, and it made me feel super light headed. Dishes really need doing though, and I think I might just have to suck it up and get 'er done. Being an adult is difficult some days...

Friday, 30 September 2011

Hmmm... been really busy getting everything settled in everywhere, I've barely had time for a break. Still haven't gotten everything unpacked, and we're turning in the keys to the old place tomorrow. Things are okay, vet bills are expensive (but he's doing fine now, it wasn't super serious.But it could have been. Gotta keep a close watch on him for a while yet).

I'm looking forward to unpacking my sewing things, which I've held off doing so far because I don't want to be tempted to sew instead of unpack, and also because the sewing room needs some work. I think I actually have excess storage, and not a lot of room to move around, So I want to ditch a few pieces of furniture. So I have a pretty nice compact desk on wheels that I will probably sell, and a dresser that I'm going to repair and possibly give away. I'd rather save on the floor space and mount some shelves on the wall if I need too.

I'm pretty stoked to get to sewing again, I mean I have a few projects that I need to work on ASAP if I intend to get them done in 12 days. I don't think I'll be able to pull everything together in time, so I might have to prioritize and change the plan. But I've seen the type of stuff the pull out on Project Runway, it's not like I'm working with only 20 or so hours.

I also intend to look into a few options for making hats. And I need to decide if I want to do American Steam Punk, or Victorian. I keep flip-flopping between the two. As much as I love the original concept, I don't know if I'll have time to pull it together, it has a long coat and some pretty awesome striped pants going on. But I don't know if I'll have time to work the coat out, as it's something I've never made, and I want to to be really nicely tailored. The pants, holster or vest and tank to go under the jacket will be easy, and if I think I don't have time that's pretty much the second look, with a few added details. I really want to work out if I can make a hat or not in time. I have some goggles I can use, but this look kind of needs to be a little more refined if I can do the jacket too.

Also, my new kitchen screams "BAKE IN ME!" So I've been obliging. I made cookies, and bought supplies to make Doughnuts. I also realised I had a can of pumpkin in my cupboard, and I have some tart shells. So I want to make pumpkin tarts soon!

...Now I am hungry. Time for some lunch =D

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Blog Post?

Yeah, it's been awhile. Longer than I realised! I guess there wasn't much interesting going on in the month of August. I just was out playing in the last vestiges of summer, and sewing. A lot. And then, suddenly and without too much warning, we were packing up to move. Yaay! We're moving to a new place, that has more square footage, costs less to rent, and has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It's a jackpot of rental units. The landlord is really nice, but Mr. C suspects he has hopes for us to be the new on site handyman and woman, because he keeps bringing up the fact that Mr. C is a maintenance man. I don't think I mind too much, because he seems to be on the up and up. Like, there are a few small things that need to be addressed before we move in, but he already told us all of the issues up front and gave us the supplies to deal with it all, and said if we have to purchase anything else to get the job done we should just give him the bill, as it should be. So I've spent the last two and a half weeks just packing up my house, going through things I don't want anymore like old clothes and shoes and random stuff from around the house, like the only-goes-one-speed-and-thats-murder-fast treadmill, and the weight bench we never use. All the while marathoning shows like The Guild and old cycles of Americas Next Top Model, and Project Runway.

With all my sewing stuff already packed (I packed it pretty much first so I wouldn't be tempted to sew instead of do the chores and packing that needed to be done) I've been spending my downtime sketching a lot. I'll post some of my sketches too. These are just ideas, and some of them I think I'll be able to create in no time, once we've settled in to the new place. Because I will have a sewing room! A whole ROOM! For SEWING! *squees a little with delight* 

But that's all I really have time to talk about, it took me longer than I had hoped to type this up. So now, it's back to packing. Once we're all moved and settled I'll put up some pics of the pants I've been working on, and the corset top I designed for Miss. S, which she sewed up (with a little direction and assistance from me) and finished. I'm super proud of this design, it's got some really unique details and shape. But alas, I don't know where my camera is at, so no pictures yet!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


We got back from my family reunion out at the lake the day before yesterday. I got to wear my whole Marianne from Gilligan's Island costume! It was perfect. Although, the Cannibals and Castaways costume "party" was really just everyone dressing up for a few pictures then getting changed, due to a lack of comfort for many of the cannibal costumes, and a few of the castaways. I stayed in my costume, because I loved my shorts so much. They were so comfortable!  A couple of the other Gilligan's Islanders and Lost characters stayed in costume too. Lost costumes looked very comfy.

I really do enjoy being out at the lake, it's where I was lucky enough to grow up. At least, until we moved the summer before I was in grade 5. For the longest time, going back to Shuswap was like going home for me, but now it doesn't feel like that. I guess that's part of growing up, and establishing a life for myself. I still would much rather live on a lake than a river like I do, as I love to swim but generally dislike swimming in the river.

I purchased some new crochet thread in vibrant rainbow size 10, and have started working on new jellyfish earings. I'm calling them "Bob", and with the rainbow thread and planned UV reactive beads I'm sure it's easy to understand why. I also intend to redesign my tagging system for the jewelry, to make it look a little more professional now that my printer is working again. I think I need to start stock-pilling some jewelry and getting them up for sale online somewhere, like Etsy. I'm selling a few via consignment here in town, but I think it would be beneficial for me to really start working on getting my online shop up and running. This will also lend itself fairly well to the planned sewing business, although I need to spend some time coming up with a proper business plan and decide how I want to do it. Do I make a few pieces in standard sizes and sell them? Do I make it a "pick your fabric, pick the design" kind of custom-made shop? Or do I combine the two, with some standard pieces for less cost and some custom options? I haven't quite made up my mind on that yet. Eventually I will do alterations as well for locals in the area, and on my own designs if people require it, but I feel I'm getting ahead of myself with that one, and should just focus on what I can make and immediately sell.

Today I've already disinfected and set-up my 10 gallon fish tank. Although I'm going to have to purchase a new extension cord because the 3' one I got is too short to reach where I need it, and the only other one I had available is like, 12' and for outdoors. 12' is way too long, and I'll need it outside again when I weed-whack next.

It's only 10:20 and I'm not sure what to do next, I kind of want to re-arrange my bedroom and give it a good clean up because I found some spiders crawling around in there this morning, but being arachnaphobic as I am I'm kind of afraid to confront the fuckers, and I have a feeling that there are more hiding in the nooks and crannies in there than I want to admit to myself. Although I really should fold my laundry, before they start deciding the unfolded clean laundry is a good place to hide. I still haven't unpacked my clothes from my trip to the lake, so I guess that's probably going to make it's way onto the to-do list. And I probably should do some dishes. But it's such a nice sunny day all I really want to do is walk my but down to the beach and read, and maybe go for a quick dip in the river, despite not liking river swimming, I know it's going to be a scorcher today.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Thought I'd make a Tutorial.

'Cept I didn't really take enough pictures for that. Not a picture tutorial anyway. So instead I'll just post a few of my work in progress pics for the Cream-Soda Shorts Mach 2: Castaway Marianne. And I'll include verbal instructions on how I made it work. If anyone who reads this wants a copy of the pattern, let me know on facebook or twitter and I will scan the pattern in so you can print it off of your computer and you can give it a whirl to make your own Cream-Soda Shorts.

These are the materials I started with. 2 meters of the navy fabric, which was way more than I needed but it was in the bargain bin so better safe with the extra than needing it and not having it. 1 meter of heavyweight iron on interfacing, and one spool of navy thread and one of white top stitching thread for the detail work.

 I cut all the pattern pieces out, and didn't take a picture. 2 pieces of the back of the shorts, 2 pieces for the front, two pieces for the back waistband and one of the front waistband, and eight placket pieces. I had to cut these out in such a way to match up the lines of the corduroy fabric. Then I cut out the iron on interfacing for the back waistband, front waistband, and placket pieces, and ironed them on. Next time I do this I'm going to cut the interfacing pieces without the seam allowance to make it easier to sew.

I then marked the placket cut line and the darts in the back piece. I reinforced the front placket area before cutting it with a wide machine stitch, and sewed in the darts for the back. I ironed the darts flat and facing the back seam once the shorts were mostly assembled. I did not trim the darts, as I was using them for part of the detail top stitch later.

 I then sewed the shorts front and back together, starting at the inside seams, front piece to back piece. Then I sewed the inseams together, matching front to front right sides together and back to back right sides together, and then I stitched the sides together. I didn't take pictures of all of this, but I did take one after. See?

 The plackets are probably the trickiest part.  First I cut the line for the plackets on the shorts front. Then I pinned the plackets together, right sides together, and sewed two along the inside curve and over the placket points, and two along the oustide curve and over the placket points. This creates the two shapes for the inside plackets and the outside plackets.

 I then trimmed them down very close to the edge and sniped the corners and turned the plackets right side out. I used a pin to pull the corners out to make them nice and pointy looking.

 Then was the fun and slightly more confusing part. This took me a few minutes to work out. For the outside plackets which in the end will have the button holes, I had to open one of the placket pieces that had been sewn along the inside curve and match the outside curve's right side to the wrong side of the shorts front. You have to really manipulate the fabric to get the two sides to match without twisting or pulling, because the curves are not the same, but when you flip it over it gives you the right shape. It would have been so much easier if I left the plackets straight and not curved at all. But I love to make things more difficult for myself.

 Then I sewed the placket on from the inside, even though I pinned the outside of the fabric. It was easier to manipulate the not interfaced shorts front, which is why I did it this way. Kenny doesn't like sewing over pins, but he didn't get too caught up on them this time. I took the sewing right to the corner of the point, and made sure to really reinforce this by backstitching. Then I trimmed the excess fabric and flipped the placket over and ironed it so it had a nice fold over the outside of the fabric.

 I hand stitched this down with a slip stitch to secure it, and I hand stitched down the point of the placket to give me a guide line on the other side to create the inside placket where the buttons go.

The inside plackets got tricksy, and I was so intent on making them line up nicely that I forgot to take pictures. First I realised I had to cut some extra fabric out near the point to make sure they would sit flat and the points would line up. I did this by taking the inside placket and pining the point to where it was directly under the point of the outside placket, and then pinning the tops together. I traced a line on the shorts front matching the inside curve of this placket. I then cut along this new line. I know, writing it out doesn't make a lot of sense if you can't see what I'm talking about, and I appologize. Anyway, I matched them up as described, and then, using the same technique as the outside placket I created the inside one, sewing the open inside curve to the fabric front, matching the right side of the placket to the wrong side of the shorts front. I ironed it, and then hand stitched it down. Then I did it all over again for the other placket on the other side.

At this point I top stitched each placket, starting with the inside placket I stitched very close to the edges using a decorative stitch on my friend's sewing machine that she let me borrow. Then I did the front plackets, then I sewed down the points. I also top stitched down the darts in the back, and the side seams.

The fly of theses shorts then becomes a front flap that if you unbutton both sides just falls down. You only really have to undo one side to slide the shorts on.

Then I did the waistband pieces. First I sewed the back waistband pieces together at the back seam, and ironed them in half, wrong sides together. I wasn't thinking clearly when I made the back waistband pieces, and it wound up creating an interesting V shape. I decided I liked it so I kept it. Then I flipped the fabric so the right sides were together and I sewed them with a 4/8" seam, trimmed it and clipped the corners. Then I flipped it right side out, and pulled the corners out with a pin to create the nice square edges. Then I matched the back seam of the shorts to the back seam of the waistband, and pinned it together with the right side of the waistband to the wrong side of the shorts. I sewed it down, flipped it and ironed it. I could have at this point hand stitched the waistband down, but that seemed like too much work. So instead I just made sure it was very securly pinned and I top stitched it down using the white top stitching thread. I sewed all the way around the waist band, so it had the pop of white detail. On the front waistband piece, which is much smaller than the back, I ironed the thing wrong sides together, then I flipped it over right sides together and using a 4/8" seam allowance I stitched it up. Then I trimmed and flipped it, pinned it right side to wrong side of the shorts front, and sewed along the seam. I trimmed it, flipped it and ironed it. Then I hand stitched it down and then topstitched around the edges.

Wow! So close to completion! Lastly, I measured out my button holes and very carefully this time created them. On the first version of the shorts I grew very impatient, and wound up making a lot of mistakes on the button holes. This time I was extra careful to make them evenly spaced and straight on the placket flys. I only had four buttons for each side as apposed to the original shorts which had 5. Once I had the button holes sewn in, I trimmed out the insides and marked where the buttons needed to go, which was very close to the edge of the inside plackets to make sure they didn't pull funny. Then I hand sewed all the buttons into place.

 THEY ARE NOW SHORTS! I steamed them with my iron (yaay I got the steamer to work again!) And they were DONE!

It took me 2 days of sewing for about 4 hours to complete the Marianne shorts.

Yesterday I bought some very awesome printed satins to make a skirt with, and a lovely silky-touch lining fabric to line the steam punk jacket I`ve been dreaming of making for awhile now. But I think the skirt is going to be super easy, and I wont need the jacket until the fall, so I`m going to make the skirt first.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A stray thought is better than a stray thread...

I was thinking I didn't have a top to wear with my cream soda shorts. Then I remembered I had this fun pretty knit fabric in my sewing stuff and I still hadn't found a thing to make out of it. Also, my sewing machine, Kenny, hated the fabric so much he tried to shred it. My friend left her sewing machine here, and Moira is a lot nicer to knits than Kenny is, so I borrowed her to get this project done. Took approximately 2 hours of work. So I decided to whip up a quick peasant style top, it looks great with the cream soda shorts tucked in, or with a belt sinching it up. I thought about adding an elastic waistband/built in belt, but then it wouldn't look as nice with the shorts.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Cream Soda Shorts!


A few reminders to myself: On the next pair, make the plackets approximately 1/4" wider. The button holer had some hate on, kept gumming up. I'm sitting here fixing the button holes by hand as they are already unraveling. Also: the waist band needs to taper in for more shape. Again, I forgot about the curve of my lower back. I tried to throw a dart in, but it pulled the whole shorts out of  shape. I'm just going to leave it being slightly square on this pair, and fix it up for the next pair.

The next pair I say? I say indeed!

The fabric is navy, if you zoom in you can see the wonderful and oh so subtle pinstripe. It's a polly blend, so they wont be quite as breathable as the pink ones. But, seeing as they are the mach 2 version they will have some of the little details I mucked up on much less mucked up.

For my first ever shorts pattern, I think I did pretty decent!

( PS Plackets need work. Need to be less bulky in the corners/seams and stiffer!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

How I do It

Today I'm going to tell you all about how I learned how to do most of the things I know how to do.

Step one: Think to yourself "Other people can do that. I am also a people. Therefore, I can do that!"

Often times we see things other people have created, and become envious of their abilities. I have to say, I used to be far more envious of other peoples abilities. I used to think that if I did a thing it was less of a thing than if someone else did it. IE My talents are lesser because they are mine. This is something most people have to deal with in their lives, in one way or another. Very closely related to a common condition known as Imposter Syndrome. But, it's like people say when they see that strange expressionist piece of modern art "My 2 year old could paint better!" And often times, that statement may be true, but we invalidate it by rationalization. Generally, the rationalization has to do with a dollar value attatched to the thing in question. "Yes, I could make something similar on my own, but I could never sell it. I could never make money off of it. It's a waste of time." It's these kind of thoughts that stand in your way. If you want to do a thing, why not try? Forget all the excuses, and give it a whirl.

Step Two: TRY IT!

Yes, that's right. If you think you may be able to do a thing, why not give it a try? Why not use your thinky brain for something that might make you happy, fulfill you creatively, and perhaps do something you may not have thought possible. This is not the hardest step, because trying once is easy to give up from. Especially when you aren't exactly sure what you are doing. The worst thing about trying is often times we know someone or of someone who we are trying to emulate when we are attempting to try something new. What happens when we attempt to emulate people is that we compare ourselves directly to that person, and when we aren't immediately as profficient at the thing as that person, we think we suck and walk away. This is not cool!

Step Three: Don't talk yourself out of it

I'm gunna be brutally honest, no matter what you are doing someone has probably already done it first. There will always be someone who's better than you at it, but they are not you. They won't give it your unique spin, your own sense of pinash that makes it your item, your thing, your creative outlet. Just because you aren't immediately amazing at a thing, doesn't mean you aren't talented. It just means you haven't done that thing as often as others, and really all you can do is keep trying to get better, and you will. It's inate. It's muscle memory, it's part of being human. We can all learn to do the same things that any other human being can do, it's just a matter of persistence.

Step 4: Don't Fear Questions!

When you are learning something new, you have to ask questions. If you know someone who does a thing you want to try, ask them to teach you. If they don't want to teach you (don't be offended by it! Some people don't wanna teach other people things because they are jealous and don't want to share their thing) go to somewhere where knowledge is free for all. I suggest the Googles. It taught me how to crochet, how to sew, how to knit, how to draw anime, how to make a proper capucinno, how to fashionably accessorize, how to cheat at video games, how to make home made bombs, how to spy on my neighbours, how to bake banana bread, how to eat healthy, how to excersize, how to hula hoop, how to walk in high heels, how to dye and cut my own hair, how to set up my home network, how to purify water, how to keep long distance relationships, how to crush my enemies, how to use a bow and arrow, how to dance, how to keep a fish tank, how to make websites and blogs, and so many other things I don't know if I could ever possibly list it all. The internet is the bestest tool ever for people who want to teach themselves how to do a thing. And litterally, you can find a tutorial for anything you could possibly think of online.

Step 5: Inspire yourself!

When you want to do a thing, you have to inspire yourself to do it. Again, the interwebs are the best source of inspiration for those of us on a tight budget. If you are interested in fashion, and want to know how to sew, and want ideas for what to make, go to any fashion website and steal ideas. Seriously, take those ideas note for note. You're not selling this thing, so it's not like your doing anything exactly wrong. You're borrowing to learn. And really, because you are just learning you're never really going to be able to exactly re-create that new Phillip Lim design. And if you do, holy shit you're a genious, pat yourself on the back and realize you have already completely learned this thing and are amazing. And besides, you don't want to start with something that ridiculously difficult. You want to look, you want to imagine, you want inspiration.

Step 6: We all start with baby feet for baby steps

"Before you must run, you must walk. Before you must walk, you must crawl" This is how it is with everything. Start small, small projects. Some of my first sewing and design projects were barbie clothes. I'd hot glue 'em right to Barbies bod. Or I'd actually sew them. Either way, it was small, wasn't it? And then, when I wanted to start sewing clothes for myself I would buy patterns. Then, after I got pretty comfortable with most patterns and terms I started drafting my own patterns. See? It's sequential. It's logical. It works. For everything. You want to know how to do leather carving? They got kits for that. Wood burning? Same deal. Wood working? Make a birdhouse. You want to learn how to do your own taxes? They got kits for that too. See? Anything you want to do, you can find a way to learn it.

Step 7: Don't listen to anyone but yourself. Actually, don't listen to yourself either.

People say things, with all the best of intentions most times, that might throw you off your path. You may want to keep trying things, and they may tell you not too. Don't listen! If you really want something, fuck everyone else. You can do it. And sometimes people's encouragement can very easily discourage you. Trust me, one wrong word and you can feel like no one will understand your art ever and there's no point. Well, don't listen to encouragement either. Like when I write, I get a lot of positive feedback. I am at the point of hating it. I hate it when I give my work to someone for critique and all they say is "Good job! That's awesome!" Seriously, it makes me think they didn't think about it all. But, whatever. It's what people say when they don't know what to say. They like it, but they don't know the way I know. So I don't listen anymore. I know when I've screwed up, and even if people like what I've done I know there is room for improvement. That drives me forward. And don't listen to yourself when you start getting hung up on the little errors either. Because that's the shit that makes you quit. So listen to yourself when you're positive, and even a little when your negative. But beware the overconfidence, or the pit of no confidence in yourself at all. It makes it easy to walk away when you listen to yourself being negative, and it makes it even easier to walk away when you think your all hot shit and couldn't get any better.

Anyway, I was just trying to give myself an ego boost, a morale boost, and some energy to keep going today. I'm in a blah space, and I really need to get out of it. I'm gunna go start the dishwasher, start an episode of Mad Men and finish my pink shorts. I've named the pattern "Cream Soda Shorts" because they are the kind of hot shorts you wear out on a date to the malt shop. And they are cream soda pink.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Damn, I'm Good!

So I meant to be cleaning my house today, I really really did. But then I thought to myself, "Wouldn't I much rather be sewing?" And I answered with a resounding "Absolutely!"

Last night I whipped together a quick pattern, drafted it based off a pair of jeans I have that fit me really well in the tush. This is for my high waisted sailor shorts I was talking about making. So far I'm ridiculously impressed. I made the pattern pieces first by taping 4 sheets of lined paper together keeping it nice and square, and using the lines to give me some added guidlines. I folded the pants along the sewn seams to give me the shape for the front and back pieces. I measured the "waist" of the front of the jeans, which actually are low-rise. So I had to add about 3 inches up to create the high waisted look I was hoping for. The front was really easy to draw out, even the placket fly, but I had a bit of an issue with the back pieces. But that will all work itself out in the fitting. I already know I have to take it in almost 4 inches, I didn't quite account for the curve of my lower back. Other than that, in the first fitting the shorts fit quite nicely, and don't look like a weird diaper like I have seen so many times on Project Runway.

Some work in progress pics! (Yes, I decided to make these bubblegum pink. I figure, if the pattern works well enough I can always just re-use it and have a second pair in navy for my Marianne costume.)

The pattern! Sans waistband, because that doesn't really need to be drawn out on paper. As you can kind of see, the angle isn't right at all on the inseam at the back, but the front is pretty much perfect. I need to increase the darts and also increase the angle on the inseam. 4"!
 Here are the shorts so far. I've got them pretty damn close to completion already. It took me a while to reason out the way to sew the curved plackets I wanted. The look is very nice when on the bod.
(Oh man I really need to wash my mirror)
 Look at that awesome placket front detail! Curvacious! Add the waist band and they will cover my belly button for highwaisted smexyness. All the stitching is beind done with black thread. Tomorrow I'm going to buy some black top stitching thread to reinfoce the side seams and do the the detail on the plackets. The buttons are also going to be 6-8 black buttons I have kicking around here.

They look pretty good on the tush so far, but definately need taking in at the waist so the sides don't keep sliding down. They are being hemmed up about 11/2" so they will be shorty shorts! And now I guess I should clean up my sewing for today and get ready to head out to the inlaw's place when Mr. C is offa work!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ah, the bitter-sweet satisfaction of a job well done.

Only bitter in the sense of wondering "what next?" I've spent a few days over the last few weeks helping friends create dresses for the '50s pinup burlesque night tomorrow. Wondering why they went for '50s pin up, when I can gaurantee the majority of people involved and dressing up to go will be wearing '40s styles... because the most recognizable pin up girls were all from the 40s. ANYWAY that's not my point! My point is...


For the last few weeks I've been "helping" with this black and red cotton dress and two others (which I didn't take pictures of but really should have) while making my own. I use quotations around helping because in the end, I wound up doing a lot of the work. But I'm not bitter about it! I'm the only one not working, and also factor in that Miss S is moving on Friday, so I felt it was my duty to step in, and make magic happen. Actually, I feel like I can take credit for the achievement of awesomeness that these 4 dresses are, and I'm vain enough to do it. I'm not going to take all the credit, the owners of the dresses put in their hands and needles and helped with all aspects. And everyone made their own crinolines. These two dresses are based off B4790, but both have alterations. Obviously Miss S's red and black beauty has some paneling taken out of the front to give it a more belted look, and they both have V necks instead of boat necks. Loving them so much I vomit from glee.

The other two dresses I will post pictures of after the show tomorrow. One is another fun alteration of the B4790, with sleeves and a collar to look like a coat dress, the other is drafted straight from my brain, with no reference material. I hope they look great on stage, and I hope the lights don't show any of the flaws (because when you are rushing to complete 4 dresses and 4 crinolines over the period of 5 working days you are bound to make a few mistakes, even if there are 4 people working on them with 2 sewing machines going.)

Next project! We have now altered the B4790 for coat dress awesomosity, and I have approximately 5 yards of cotton blend suiting fabric. I redrafted it to fit the lines of a coat better. This is going to become a steam-punk inspired fall/winter coat for myself for this up coming winter season. I'm going to need to purchase some awesome lining fabric, and perhaps I can manipulate it into becoming reversable. We shall see.

As I'm working on this long-term project I'm hoping to make up some cute high-waisted sailor shorts, perhaps placket front. My family is doing a theme night at our reunion in a few weeks: Cannibals and Castaways. I'm going as Marianne from Giligan's Island (trust me, there's a super lol in this). I have almost everything I need, but some of those shorty shorts with the high waist would be super to complete the look. And I love the style. However, the only fabric I currently have with which to make these shorts is really bright pink denim, and I'm just not sure how flattering that will be as shorts. And the last time I made shorts was in grade 8 sewing class, when I made a pair of boxers. Which didn't fit. And I don't have a pattern. This is going to be too much fun!

Bright pink enough? Approximately 5 yards of bubblegummy goodness. Okay for shorts? Or should I get something else (very tight budget for new fabrics. I was really hoping I'd have something that would work for this in my remnants...)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Laptop Is Working. Weather is Warm. Life is accelerating.

This morning I was having a very strange dream about my sister not having made a back-up copy of her eldest daughter, when I was suddenly awoken by a tickle on my arm. I thought it was one of the cats bugging me, so I brushed at the tickly spot and realized it had now transfered to my hand. Opening my eyes I yelped when I saw a spider almost the size of my thumbnail climbing up my wrist. I brushed it off and reached for a tissue with which to squish it, but the damn thing scrambled under my pillow. When I lifted said pillow, the mysterious spider had vanished. Grrr.

Needless to say my arachnophobia kept me from falling back to sleep.

So now I'm awake and updating my blog! After having made Mr. C a capuccino and feeding the cats of course.

Lots-ish has been going on. I've been accepted into school, which means I have about a month and a half to work out how I'm going to move, where exaclty I'm going to move (obviously I know which town, but not which house on which street in said town), and how I'm going to get the money to go. I need to get my student loan papers printed and signed and sent off express post ASAP. I need to get in top gear for research to see if I qualify for the provincial SDEB funding program. I need to so many things I think I might have an aneurysm. But I'm pretty determined to leap these hurdles. I'm waiting on the school to process my deposit so I can start choosing classes. I feel like I might not be able to get everything I need if it takes any longer for class selection. I'm worried all the courses I want to take are going to be full. But all the worry and stress of it aside I'm pretty pleased that I got in, and like I said, I will make this work.

I will admit - there's been some bitter sweet to this whole thing. Hearing from my mom that she isn't in support of me going to take this course was a real let down, although I honestly expected as much. As much as she is great at encouraging words for the most part, she's not always the most active in supporting me in the things I try. And the six week time frame I`ve been left with to figure things out as a result of the postal strike delaying me getting any correspondance at all until they were mandated back to work is making my ulcer throb with agony. And there`s been a kind of general lack of physical help from anyone to make this easier on me, but hey. I`m used to flying solo when I come up with a plan. And this time I`m determined to stick with it, funding allowing of course.

On the flip side, knowing I`m going to be leaving kind of has changed my attitude in the last few days. I feel a little like I have limited time to see all the people I hardly go out and see, and it's made me very aware that my anti-social tendencies kind of get in the way of my good friendships. Not to mention how I seriously have a tendancey to take friendships for granted, making me think I need to try a little harder at being a good friend. Although I'm not the kind of person to think just because we haven't talked in 5 years we aren't friends anymore. Actually, for me it's much the opposite. If you were once my friend, you will always be my friend, even if we haven't talked in five years, you can call me any time and we can pick up right where we left off. So going for lunch with a couple of the old highschool crew was a lot of fun for me yesterday. Felt like nothing had really changed, though so much really has, and in some ways it made me feel old. Old, because of all my friends who have families and babies running around, and all the stuff people have done since those days of youthful insanity. We were a motly crew back in the day, which is really what made us awesome, and its very good to know that at least that hasn't changed a bit.

In one week one of the bars downtown is having a 50's pin-up themed burlesque night. A few friends and I decided to make some pretty dresses for it. Using the night as an excuse, really. At least for the two of us not involved in the show at all. I decided to make some evening wear out of a retro 1952 wrap dress pattern, and so did Miss. S, although she decided to go with a more traditional daytime look of cotton gingham as opposed to my mixed pattern paisley and plaid teal and green satin. Then we decided, before actually making the dress and seeing how it fit, to make some crinolines to wear under them. Unfortunately, after having made the crinoline first, I realised it will not work with my dress. It makes me look lumpy and weird. I think I'm going to just not wear the crinoline, rather than try and alter the dress to work with the crinoline I made, or to take the crinoline apart. Now I have a grass green crinoline with a black waist band and no skirts or dresses that it looks good with. I might have to take the extra teal satin fabric and make a circle skirt to wear over it on another occasion.

I forgot to take pictures of my work in progress. The dress is nearing completion, I just have to hem and bind it and then alter it where I want the neckline a bit different, and I may have to adjust how the arms sit, because the straps might be a little wide. I'm torn between going for a v-neck look and sinching the straps in with a bit of the bias tape, or going for a scoop neck or even a low boat neck similar to the paterns original neckline. Miss. S is going to do hers with a low princess neckline, and we're going to attempt to add some cap sleeves, which I fully approve of. I also love how we worked out getting the crinoline to work with her dress! Because she did the dress with the front panel in gingham and the outer shell in black, she can actually wear the crinoline on top of the front panel (my pattern is just too loud to do the same. And my crinoline doesn't match the main colour in the pattern, where her crinoline matches the red in the gingham), so the skirt wraps around it showing some of the gingham and crinoline in a super cute and I think ridiculously fashionable way. She's already picked out the shoes and vintange gloves to go with hers. Super cute and I'm almost more excited for her version of the dress than mine at this point. Almost. I friggin' love my satin monster. <3

My other friend, who shares a name with Miss S, so instead we will call her.... Miss SF for her first and last initial... is going to be a part in the production. She wanted a teal blue "Alice" kind of dress. So I used my so-called "amazing talent" to speed-draft up a fitted 4 panel corset bust with a gathered skirt daytime dress with cute little cap sleeves. We slapped together the bust piece before they left on Saturday when we last worked on them, and they are coming over again today to work on the dresses some more. Hopefully we will be able to get them all finished, especially seeing as I'm likely to go ahead and finish mine after I'm done posting this while I watch some Mad Men. Anyway, we have some fitting left to do for Miss. SF's dress, and we did the fitting on Miss S's the day before yesterday when she popped by for about two hours to work on it. I do have concerns about the gathered skirt on the dress I helped Miss. SF with. She also made a crinoline and now I'm thinking it would have been smarter to have done her skirt as a circle skirt as well, to get the right drape. But we already cut the fabric! If the skirt decides it wants to turn itself into a bell skirt I may just cheat and add some triangular inserts to give the bottom of the skirt some more flare. I'm very excited to see how this dress turns out too, with its cute little eyelet lace details and my first attempt at a detachable front panel apron.

And finally, Miss F, who is also in the show. Unfortunately we didn't get around to her dress much yet, although she started by hand sewing a black crinoline for under hers. She wants a red-silk Canadian Mountie dress. I have some ideas how this should look, despite the fact we didn't even really look at her inspiration and ideas yet together. I'm thinking it shouldn't be too dificult to draft up something that will look spectacular, rather than trying to find a pattern to finagle into working. I kind of have it in my head that it should look like an elongated version of just the mountie jacket, with buttons all down the front and the bottom part of the dress as a circle skirt, with the buttons left open at the top and bottom to expose some of the crinoline and some cleavage. I would totally wear that, and might seriously consider making a version for me if the pattern is workable. Maybe in a different colour than red silk. Would be lovely in some blue and white pin stripe cotton blend... oooh or maybe something to match the grass green crinoline I made...

As you can probably tell, having people to sew with is making me even more excited about sewing again. I love to do it, I love working with beautiful patterns and fabrics and designing beautiful silhouettes. I think I'm going to go make me some coffee or maybe some tea, and get to work on my research NOW so I have more time to sew this afternoon!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

One of these days my brilliant ideas are going to give me a heart attack.

So I've been kind of out of it lately. It's true.

Today I came up with a plan. My plan involved doing some Wii Fit Plus excersizes, having a wholesome breakfast, doing dishes, and then going and doing a little hula hooping outside to practice some of the moves I'm trying to learn. After that I was going to peruse the employment sites and see if there was anywhere worthwhile to hand out resumes too, and then from there I wasn't sure what I might do next. I got as far as having breakfast, and things went down hill from there.

See, for the last week or so I've been doing dishes while my laptop is tuned into Netflix so I can watch The Tudors. I hate doing dishes, and having a show I like playing while I do them makes it more fun, especially since I decided that the only time I'm allowed to watch The Tudors is while I'm doing either dishes or laundry. So today I go to turn on laptop, and it wont. This isn't the first time this has happened. The first time it happened was months ago, and I figured it was just because I'd let the battery die while it was on. I plugged it in for a few minutes, hit the power button, and it worked fine that time. The next time, nothing seemed to work until my kitty Max rubbed up against it and it magically turned on. This time, nothing worked. Not even rubbing Max all over it, much to my dismay and his discomfort.

Frustration amped, I decided I to find out if it is still covered under warranty. I mean, it should be, I bought it in 2009 and paid for the extra 3 year coverage that doesn't start until the manufacturers warranty is void, which makes it technically covered for 4 years. But, despite my best efforts, I couldn't seem to locate the papers. Frustrated, I called the place where I bought it, Staples.

The lady I talked to was rude. Not surprised, as shortly after I brought the thing home and learned they had incorrectly partitioned the hard drive they were really short with me then too. She told me that without any paper work they can't honour the eps warranty. I knew I had registered the warranty online, but she still insisted all they could do was send it away on the manufacturers warranty without the paperwork.

So I continued my search for the warranty papers.

When I bought the laptop I remember thinking to myself: "Self, do not loose this paperwork. Put it somewhere where you will always remember where it is. Or keep it with your laptop bag." So thats where it had remained for quite some time, until Lenore kitty peed on the laptop bag wrecking it almost 2 years ago, and I decided to take the papers and put them in the files with my other paper work. Not that long ago (about 2 months) Mr. C decided to clean house and organize the files, and asked me where I wanted the papers put for my warranty on the laptop. I remember saying I would put them in the files and he handed them to me. From there, my memory of things gets a little fuzzy, but logic dictates I put it where I said I would, right?

Today, after three hours of thorough searching and shredding of old documents, completely organizing the files, and cleaning out all drawers with any paperwork in them, I couldn't find the damn warranty. Not at all. And I was certain, super certain, I had seen them within the last few weeks. At this point, I was so frustrated with myself I was verging on tears. So close to giving up on looking, I thought to myself: "Self, you have the weirdest logic sometimes. I bet you put it somewhere stupid, thinking it was a smart place because it made no sense so you'd obviously remember it. Is it with your fish tank supplies?" So I look. No. "How about... with your sewing stuff? In your sewing drawers, or the sewing box?"




Lesson learned. When I think some place is a good place to put something because it's not where it would logically go, therefore I should remember it better, I should punch myself instead, and put the damn thing away where it belongs.