Monday, April 30, 2007

I finished something...sorta.

and I'm pretty freakin' proud of myself if I do say so. Most Lansingers will recognize that logo as belonging to our quintessential breakfast place on the North Side, The Golden Harvest. "North Lansing Against the World," shiver me timbers and make that over easy with extra bacon. I swear I was eating there before the logo changed to incorporate the Skull and crossed eating utensils, because of the food of course. The pirate theme is just a big ol' bonus. And over the years of eating there I've become friends with the owner. I made him some fancy curtains, he refuses to charge me for my breakfast, our kids play together, and every once in awhile when neither of us is working we might do something out in the real world, although frankly I can't remember the last time that happened. Anyway, he had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. I had just finished another "we call them pirates," and was on a fair isle kick. So, armed with some "knitters" graph paper, and some silky wool, I knit furiously for 4 or 5 days and this hat sprung fully formed from my needles, like Athena from the skull of Zeus.

There's only one teeny tiny little problem:
Yes kiddies, that's what happens when you swatch with one yarn and then switch to another for the final project. That's the difference between 9 rows per inch and 7 rows per inch. Turns out that those 2 rows per inch add up rather dramatically, and if only I'd left some eye holes it would be a nifty G.H. themed ski-mask.

So I think I'm going to give it to him anyway, but keep tweaking the design so that it might someday fit a human being as opposed to a mutant with a long cylindrical head.

This is the hat as modeled by Manimal as it might be worn on a normal head.It seems to lose something.... twice, silly pirate.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Things I haven't blogged about...

But really meant to.

1. My new spinning wheel. Her name is Victoria, she comes from Louet and she lives in a swanky back pack. I have a crush.

2. My new sweater. It's not actually for me. I think the reason I've been cursed with sweaters lately is because I'm just not meant to have a sweater. So I'm knitting for Rat Girl. It's the "Little Red Riding Hoody" from the DomiKnitrix, and I probably should have read the pattern first because it's got A LOT of crazy shaping details, including bust darts, and Rat Girl doesn't have a bust so it might look a little odd on her...but I'm up to the armpits and I'm not turning back now. It's actually lots of fun to knit something that detailed. I used stitch markers! Me, I know I can't believe it either.

3. Quilting Classes...I'm going to be teaching them at Woven Art, starting sometime this summer. I'm quite excited about this, but a little over whelmed. I'd like to teach it as a series of 6 classes that will take someone from being a complete beginner and (with luck) end up with a machine quilted, bound and finished masterpiece. This seems optimistic, but I think it can be done. Anybody who has ever wanted to quilt but hasn't taken the plunge? Tell me what you want in a quilting class, your guidance will be appreciated.

4. Lots and lots of other things...but I've been distracted.

What have I been distracted by? You suspected that this might be going somewhere didn't you? I'm not half so subtle as I think I am.

We are FINALLY renovating our house.

We bought this piece o' shit about 6 years ago, because the price was right and it hadn't yet fallen apart to the point where we wouldn't live in it. We would both live in a tent though, so that's really not saying much. In fact, our young tenant refers to it as "the yert." We have done very little to it since then, because we knew that at some point this day would come and we would tear out EVERYTHING, and I do mean everything, so what would be the point of fixing it? The problem has be exacerbated by my tendency to sledge-hammer on the walls when I've been having bad days, and to invite my friends to do so after we've had a few brews, so many of the living room walls have been stripped of their dry wall and some are down to studs.

I don't scrapbook and I'm not really a picture taker, but it seems to me that I would enjoy looking back on this in my dotage...perhaps so I can demonstrate to my grand-children "see, I've always been insane." My family also has a long history of construction, my father's family runs a third generation construction company, and my parents built their first house, so I wanted to document the project in a form that could be shared with them...even though this means that they will know the full extent of our squalor.

I'm not ready to clean up this blog into a family friendly format however, and I need to keep this area "house project" free, so that I have a refuge from sawdust and city planning office bureaucracy. Instead I am starting a new blog! Because, you know, it's hard enough for me to keep this one updated, so if I have two then it will be better...right? Yeah...right. Anyway, I hope to see you all over at "the house of straw" where you will (hopefully) be able to see my house transformed from a pile of shit, into a wonderful home where we can invite our family and friends without embarrassment.

Ragnar...she quilts, she sledge hammers on her house.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Panic Defeated By Process By Way of Pins

Remember awhile ago when I was bitching about the subjectivity and selection process of Art Fair Juries, and how it was like high school and all that nonsense?

Well it turns out that the application is just the beginning and the real panic starts when you get in. I'm 44 days out from my first big fair of the season and I'm starting to wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats, wondering to whom I should address the sacrifices to insure good weather, having those giving-a-speech-in-your-underwear nightmares, except in my case its more like showing up for the set up and realizing that I forgot to pack my artwork...yeah. Anyway, I'm coming out of the closet as a big worry wort.

This is my brain on Art.

So how does one defeat the pre-fest panic? I'm trying the keepin' on keepin' on cure. Lucky for me my process is suitably fussy and intricate.

This is what I do when I get a couple of hours to myself and can stake out in my studio...which has two lovely new shelves, in a completely off subject digression....

First I draw a picture....yes it has a hole in it, most of my quilts have holes in them...this is an 8 inch block, it's will eventually be bound and probably framed as a tiny little piece of artwork.

Then I cut it apart, and I think to myself: what the hell was I thinking? And I reach into my big pile of fabric and pick out pieces that I like that I hope will go well together.

For better or worse....the colors are picked

And I tack the pattern pieces down with masking tape, because it doesn't leave any sticky and it doesn't distort the fabric like pins do. The pins come later. I mark the seams with a fine point permanent marker, I don't like chalk, it wipes off. The only time I use chalk is if the fabric is so light that the marker will show through, or if the fabric is too dark to show the black marker.

Then I cut them out.

And then comes the pins. Lots and lots of pins, and lots of clipping around those curves so there's a prayer of them laying flat after they're sewn.

And here it is partially sewn together.

And more pins pins pins.

And if I've been very fussy, and marked all my seams at a perfect 1/4 inch, and more importantly sewn them at a perfect 1/4 inch, then when all is said and done, I get this:

Ta Da!!

Now I just have to do that about 50 more times and I should be all set for the art fair...after I get them matted and framed and get my display put together, and and and...I think I need to start another square.

Ragnar...Quilt like a Pirate.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Computery Angst....

So it became apparent last week that the baby elephant laptop was not serving it's function. And when I say function I mean, the only thing that we expected of the damn thing was to find it's way onto the internet once in awhile, and we even bought it a little wireless card of it's very own so that it could do that...we stored nothing on this computer. We did not play games on it, we did not store music or pictures on it....nothing, because it's a 10 year old baby elephant, and we didn't want to stress it out. I even tried to be sympathetic when it ate my blog entries by crashing before I could post them....which is why I haven't been keeping up my end of the "update the blog more often" contract that I have with myself. I have been updating the blog damn it...just not posting.

Actually I'm about to recreate one of those eaten entries right now, to demonstrate why it is that the baby elephant is going to the elephant grave yard.

Daughter creature brought home a disk with a partially typed school paper on it, saying that because of computer problems in her classroom she'd been unable to type it up during school, but that technically it was past due. Simple enough perhaps, but about two months ago the word processor disappeared from the laptop. Poof. Not there anymore, not even an icon on the desktop that didn't click to anywhere. So we had to go down to the internet cafe and buy time at $1 per 15 minutes so that she could type up her paper. Not only that, but when we get to the internet cafe their fancy shmancy computers don't have floppy drives. I boot up the trusty (or untrusty) as the case maybe, laptop, which promptly dies because it's little battery holds no juice. I had to crawl under the desk next to us and plug it in so that I could boot up the school floppy disk, email her partially typed paper to myself, and then open it on the cafe computer so that she could finish it....which then had to be emailed back to myself so that we could save it and she could take it to school to print it out, because, oh yeah, the cafe printer was broken. Of course it was. So Rat Girl typed...slowly at $1 per 15 minutes....and I blogged.

Slight digression...there is a role playing group/club/swarm? what's the collective noun for a bunch of gamers? that meet at the cafe on Sunday nights. I never really got into organized roleplaying myself, I never even owned my own dice, but I did hang out with gamers in my black lipstick and tattered silk days, so I feel like I have some idea of what it's all about. Now, correct me if I've been wrong all these years, but isn't the whole idea to enter this imaginary place where you get to be a sexy ass kicking elf with lavender colored eyes and the ability to levitate anyone who messes with you? Or even a scary sewer dwelling vampire that's uglier than any creature has the right to be but can magic their victims minds into doing whatever it wants them to? Big guns, big tits, and role your D12 to see if you actually hit the guy? Right? Have I been laboring under some misapprehension all these years? Here is an actual quote from the game in progress while Rat Girl was working on her paper:

"So you're waiting in line at the post office, but it doesn't open for another 1/2 an hour, what are you going to do?"

"Well, I guess I could try to talk to some of the other people waiting in line at the post office."

"And what about us? We just went to pick up some bagels, should we just meet them back at the house?"

Excuse me but, what? If that's your fantasy life then dudes, you should trade places with me because I get to do all sorts of cool shit. Here are a list of the super exciting things that I get to do on an almost daily basis.

Pick up child from school.

Return library books.

Wash dishes, and or prepare food.

Scoop the cat litter.

Put gas in one or the other of the vehicles.

Prepare after school snacks.

Run errands...the excitement just never ends!

But returning to Daughter Creature and the school project. She got it all typed and formatted and everything, and we even got it saved back onto her floppy disk. I the time that she'd been working another computer user had sat down next to him and I had to ask him to move so that I could crawl under his desk and unplug my computer...he was very nice about it. But when I got the computer moved to another spot in the cafe and plugged back in, it had crashed and the blog entry was lost.

And then when I tried to reboot it the wireless card wouldn't work, the networking utility crashed the computer about 10 times in a row.

So anyway. We got to get a new computer. Actually we got the oldest, cheapest model that we could find on sale because they wanted it out of their store so that they could put nicer newer more expensive things on the shelf, but we bought it at a store, and it came in a box. I'm very excited.

See! A picture that I took with my phone and then posted directly to the blog! Previously I would have had to take out the memory card and put it in the special card reader. That doesn't seem like such a big deal, but trust me, it's like some kind of miracle.

Ragnar....happy computer owner.