Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts on Blogging

It's been a notably long time since I properly posted, and as I think long and hard about the act of blogging I wonder if my expectations for this are different from the truth.

I love writing, but when it comes to writing a blog, I struggle.  I love crafting, but when I get caught up in the social media of it all, I find myself stressed and seeing it as a job.  Makn't e no mistake -- I genuinely want to share my work and view the work of others, but I wish I didn't have to sit behind a computer to do it.

Since crafting a blog and twitter for Lenore Lenore, I've been avoiding work.  It's been a flurry of "what will my readers want" and "what will make this brand popular".  All in all, I think I've lost myself in this trek to get a store online.

I don't want to give up blogging, tweeting, sewing, or knitting.  But I think I need a new approach -- making the things I love first, and figuring out how to present them second.  I don't want to look at a sewing project and think "what pictures of a process can I take to blog about this later".  I just want to do it, and if I take photos, awesome.  If not, there's always the finished result.

I haven't had this blog long, but already it's a learning experience.  I need to be me, not someone else.  And in order to do that, I need to find my own methods, instead of trying to copy someone else's and hope I learn to love it.  So often I see people complain about how they need to "update their blog", but the best blogs are by those people who really seem to enjoy it.  I want to find that bliss with this blog.

Interestingly, of all the posts I've made on this blog, this was the one that came easiest.  I have no one to impress with this, I'm just trying to understand.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's going on here?

So, I've been absent for about a month.  Working on getting Lenore Lenore up and working has been trying, to say the least.  But with the holidays done, and my holiday depression defeated, I'm hoping to get back on track.

Expect more frequent updates in the coming weeks, as I redo my workroom, and start sewing dresses and other pretties!

Also:  I updated the blog layout.  I think it looks better!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Littlest of Red Hats

When my grandfather died, my grandmother (who will never die--I mean this in the nicest way possible, this woman is an indestructible force) opted to join the Red Hat Society.  Now, her friend loaned her some "large awful thing", and she requested that I make her a new hat, "but not a real hat, something small she can clip into [her] hair."  My grandmother does not like hats.

Now, I've never made a hat, much less a hat with a ten-day deadline in the middle of the Christmas season.  But, she's my grandmother--so what the hey?

Since I wasn't sure where to begin with the concept of "tiny red hat"--other than the obvious--I poked around the craft store and picked up red felt, embroidery thread, purple ribbon, and some various odds and ends.  I have yarn and fabric in nearly every color, so I figured if I needed anything else, I would already have it.  As it happened, I did not.  To get some ideas, I worked on a couple sketches:

The making of the hat was surprisingly easy.  It's hand-stitched (and, embarrassingly, not my best work), with typical sewing stitching for some portions, and blanket stitching where the floss would be seen.  I also used hot glue to stiffen the two bottom pieces of felt before blanket stitching them together. Not the classiest or most professional way to starch the bottom of the hat, but functional under a tight time limit and budget.

Since the hat was so small, I opted to go a bit simple with the details--purple ribbon (just like the red hat logo), a little purple bow, and some Christmas berries, since the hat is for their Christmas party.

And viola!  A tiny little Red Hat!

Of course, I had some concern over the best way to clip it in, but given my grandma's hair type and preferences, I opted to put two loops on the bottom so the hat can be bobby-pinned to her hair.

I even tried it out myself:
Not bad for having no clue what I was doing!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dinosaur Delight

Inspiration comes in strange places and from strange things.  For me, it's mostly things I have weird obsessions with, like dinosaurs, bunnies, and trees.  And as luck would have it, my boyfriend lives a few mere minutes away from the Hadrosaurus Park in Haddonfield, NJ.  The site is where the first dinosaur bones were unearthed, and is now an undeveloped woodland park, where my boyfriend and I spent the afternoon taking photos, and excitedly discussing the fact we were trouncing around on the very place a dinosaur once walked.

Of course, despite the beauty of nature, I found myself less inspired by the trees, lake, leaves, and my boyfriend pretending he's a panda:

And more entertained by the idea of dinosaur prints and knitting animals and dresses and silly whimsical (yet classy) dino designs.

Dinosaur skeleton fabric by Bratpacksfabrics on Etsy.
Sadly, dino prints tend to be on the cutesy children's side, although I did find one or two gems I could see as skirts, dresses, and various accessories--my favorite being the one posted above.  (Which, hopefully, will be mine sooner rather than later.)

Of course, my day of searching for fun things to craft wasn't going to end in a dino dress, especially given my new-found love for knitting.

Dino the Dinosaur Pattern on Ravelry

Which was only exasperated by the fact my boyfriend would like me to make him the above t-rex.  Probably to go next to his collection of wooden dinosaur skeletons.

It's been a wonderful day all-around!  Rawr!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tiny Legs, Big Head

To start with, I'm updating this from my new (old) netbook!  It used to belong to my boyfriend, although he has a Macbook now, and this is far more suited to my needs.  What does this mean?  That I can now keep a regular update schedule, because I will have a computer seven days a week, instead of just four.  This basically means I can update weekends, when I actually do stuff!

Anyway, other than the new (old) netbook, my mother's birthday is creeping up on me.  Now, my mother is a Dachshund Person, from a long line of Dachshund People.   (No, really, apparently some great-something on mine won the Westminster with a dachshund once.)  She currently owns two of the little devils:

This is Petey.

And Peanut.

So, I opted to make her a plush dachshund for her birthday with an old pattern I found in the thrift for thirty cents.  Now, I normally draft my own patterns, but it looked cute and old-fashioned, and I thought using the right fabric it would match my ma's bedroom.  The fabric is definitely my favorite part of this--I really love the elegant design and blue color.  It's the perfect match to my ma's decorating style, but not so over-the-top it would look silly as a plush dog.

The pattern was a very simple one, nine pieces in all: Two pieces for the body, two for the legs, four for the ears, and one for the face:

All were done in the cotton print, except for two of the ear pieces, which I did in a grey suiting fabric I had laying around.  These pieces were the inner ears, and was different for contrast.  All-in-all it took about an hour to sew, including ironing time and putzing around with thread tension.

Unfortunately, the chest-area doesn't look as nice as the pattern made it look.  It's a bit scrunchy and off, but what can I do?  Eventually I got to like how it looks with the legs laid out, which makes it a bit more whimsical anyway.  I added the button eyes, and purple bow/ribbon collar just to break up the pattern.

I'm not so sure I'll ever use the pattern again, but it was a fun, quick make for my ma.  I'm thinking she'll love it!  She's all about handmade, and it a huge supporter of my work, so I think she'll find it cute!

If I do try to make another one, I'm definitely editing the pattern a bit.  On the other hand, I do have to chalk some of it up to human error, too--I've never made a stuffed animal before!  I'm normally a dressmaker, so it's strange to have to deal with something that ends up stuffed and sewed up completely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Handmade for the Holidays

As November comes to a close, the holiday season is fast approaching! What does this mean? Hundreds of projects to make! Well, maybe not hundreds, but I've certainly got my hands full. In fact, there's really only three or four projects right now, but two of them are knitting, and I'm new at this!  So, you know, give me a break here.  I'm still a slow knitter.

First up is a project of socks. Socks frightened me, I admit, for awhile. But then I tried to make one, and, hey: it's actually not so bad. Pretty fun, actually, although starting the cuff is a problem for me still.

I'm at the very beginning of this project, although I have been carefully planning it.  I've never done a multi-color design before, and while it is a fairly simple one I'm pretty nervous about it.  Also: because I'm a bit skittish about who might stumble over this blog, I'm refraining from posting what the design is, but here is my very fragile beginnings:

Eventually I'm going to post the full pattern, and the finished project.  This is one gift I'm pretty excited for, so I'm hoping all goes well.

My next knitting project is one for my friends:  Little octopodes for each of them!  We aren't much for exchanging gifts for the holidays, but I wanted the practice, and this little guys aren't very labor intensive.

Each color is for a different person, and Mr. Orange is almost done--just need to finish up a couple more arms.  I'm hoping to do something fun and quirky with button eyes for the little guy, as well.

The pattern for the octopus was completely self-developed.  Since learning crochet wasn't in the plans, I needed to figure out how to make a ball while knitting in the round.  After experimenting a bit, I'm pretty proud of the result.

Finally, my mother's birthday is in a little over a week.  What does this mean?  She's getting a fancy plush Dachshund for her new bedset.  So far as I have the pattern, and the fabric I'm using.  Hopefully this little guy will be done by Friday to show off here:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taming the Beast: Versus the Knitting Needles

I am the type of person to whom sewing came easy. Within a month of sewing, I was drafting my own patterns, and looking for a higher-quality machine to work on a long scale. To this day sewing remains the one skill I have that I have the most confidence in. Despite being a general crafter, when people as me what I do, my response is always the same: “I sew.”

However, knowing how to knit is something that opens design doors, and would allow me to expand on the things I make. Unfortunately, where sewing, bookbinding, and various other crafts came easy, knitting is something I just don't grasp.

When I first picked up a basic knitting kit three or so years ago I thought it would be easy. Two needles, one thing of yarn, lets do this thing! Then I actually tried. My stitches were a mess, and forget about gauges and designs. Please! I was hopeless, and not to mention in pain.  (It took a better part of the past three years to realize I need to relax while knitting, and only use wooden needles.)

Since then, once a year, when the weather gets cold I break out the knitting needles and struggle through a week or month of Trying To Knit, before giving up completely.

And Trying To Knit was quite the ritual.  It generally came out with the snow, when other past-times like skating and hula-hooping outdoors got bothersome, and before I realize that Netflix just updated their entire Instant Watch catalog with some obscure television show that I will spend the next few months engrossed in with never-ending cups of hot chocolate.  It involved cursing, and ripping out stitches, and unraveling everything I had done only to redo it, unravel, redo, unravel in a never-ending series of frustration and a scarf only ten inches long before I QUIT.

This year, however, I've noticed something: for all my complaining, sore fingers, and confusion, I'm getting better.

Which is a good thing because this is also the year I opted to knit some Christmas gifts. Go figure, right? But what I've learned is this:  If I weren't knitting things for Christmas, I never would have learned.

For me, knitting was never a real challenge because I never had a reason to do it. Scarves are the traditional beginner's project, but I don't need no stinkin' scarves (no, really: I already own a number, most of which I use to tie back my hair, and my one knit scarf does the job just fine in winter). Socks, however? Adorable knit octopodes? These are the thing I need in my life. Or, rather: the lives of my friends who will be receiving them.

And, really: knitting is fun.

Who knew?