Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm late! I'm late!

... but just like Lewis Carroll's white rabbit, I'm getting there!

Behold the first part of Paisley des Quatre Saisons:

I loved embroidering these stitches! When I saw Anne-Gaëlle's picture, I got my Embroidery Stitch Bible and started looking - I was sure I'd already seen this stitch like a triangle there. And I found it, it was Closed Blanket Stitch. But when I read the explanation in the blog, I saw that she actually used stem stitch first, and then she embroidered Fly Stitch (which are also in the book, of course). Méri's dictionary surely has all the names, Portuguese, English and French, I'll check them later!

I've made the first part yesterday, during the holiday, and today I've made the second one:

I think it's looking nice, but I had to make a few changes. It's been a long time since I got this mad when embroidering! Do you know why? The ribbons! Ah, it was really frustrating to embroider with them. First, they're not silk, but satin (Méri had already told me that the silk ones, despite being much more expensive, make a lot of difference - of course she was right!). Second, I think they're wider than the ones used by Anne-Gaëlle. Putting all this together, it was really difficult to embroider with these ribbons. Oh, sure, there was also the problem with the threads - anyone out there, besides me, thinks there should be a kit for this stitch-along? Actually, if the embroidery supplies could be bought here in Brazil, it would already be of great help...

For the contour, I've used a perlé (coton a broder) thread that I'd bought many years ago to embroider vagonite (that I can't figure out how to call in English... and it's not in the book!), but I never did. The color is DMC 798, a very nice blue! um azul muito bonito! For the flowers stems, I used regular thread (stranded cotton mouliné), Anchor color 228. And for the little flowers details, color 290. Not that these things make any difference for anyone reading this, but if I end up forgetting which colors I used, it's noted here! :-D

The next part is embroider little roses around the motif. Guess what, with ribbons! Ah... wish me luck!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things that make the day better

Tomorrow is a national holiday, and because of that great part of the people isn't working. My husband is, so this is just a regular day here at home.

Of course, since I'm not working for now, the day can be rearranged the way I want. Which should be an invitation to productivity in all areas - chores, general to do's, crafts.

But then what happens?

A gray day. Sad, ugly and depressing. Lately I realized how much gray days affect me, and I must say that's a little scary. When we're working, we don't have much time to pay attention to the weather outside, let alone the effects it has upon us. So something had to be done!

My solution was to start a project that was around here annoying me: a SAL, or stitch-along. Anne-Gaëlle, from the blog Au bonheur de mains (I read French, don't you know? Sometimes with the help of Google, but I do! ;-) ), came up with an embroidery project for us to make together. The links are in the right column of her blog, with all the files for download.

Today, reading the blogs I follow with Google Reader, I saw she was asking people to subscribe again - very few of them were giving feedback about the project. Nothing like a tug of ears to get us moving, huh?

I printed out all the files she had already sent us by e-mail (the same that are available for download), and I started to look for some fabric to embroider.

It seems that in Europe it's easy to find linen to embroider. Here in Brazil, Ao que parece, lá na Europa é fácil encontrar linho para bordar. Aqui no Brasil, who knows why, linen is a product of the highest level, costing around 40 dollars. Too expensive for embroidery!

I headed to my embroidery box to see what I already had, and I found some fabric - I think it's fine hemp. I'm not sure it will be suitable for the project, but I'll try.

The next step was transferring the design to the fabric. Since I don't have a light box (yet), which makes this step of embroidery a lot easier, I had to improvise the simplest way:

See how gray the day is?? And the street is too calm, only in the middle of a long weekend you see this in São Paulo...

Very well, design transferred, the embroidery starts tonight. The first stage is the contour, I've already seen the steps to make the chosen stitches and I'll pick the colors later. I decided to make each of the 4 parts of the project in separate fabrics. Later I want to frame them and hang them in the original distribution. I think it will look really nice!

I love paisleys. Or cashemire, or however you know this design. I simply l-o-v-e them, and I thank Anne-Gaëlle for the beautiful design! :)

Now I have to go... it's getting dark and the wind is so strong outside. I don't feel like doing anything other than this embroidery today, but I have to be stronger than that and head to the gym. That's another thing about gray days: they totally ruin your diet, and this fat is not going to burn itself!

Friday, October 8, 2010

So long and thanks for all the fish!

After this post I doubt anyone keeps visiting this blog. You're about to know my crazy level.

Very well, yesterday I got to the (recurring) conclusion that I needed to organize my craft supplies. And I didn't avoid the task, even not believing it could turn out good.

Months ago, I bought a desk, three drawer thingie and a book shelf, to boost my home office. The shelf was strategically chosen because of its two doors on the lower part, which I decided right at the store (mentally, with no comments to the poor husband) it would be where I'd keep my craft stuff. The rest of the shelf was for my books, of course.

(The shelf right above is the home of my craft books and magazines: did you notice the little lamb? It's the one I got at the patchwork fair! So cute!)

So there was the problem that needed to be solved TODAY! Look at the situation before:

Starting with the upper shelf, from left to right, we have:
  • box for cross stitch and embroidery
  • the tote I bought at Paris, with fabric to make "fur" toys, like the little lamb
  • the plastic package with the gray knitting inside is a pullover that a friend of mine asked me to add some buttons - so it doesn't count in my mess, I jsut need her or myself to buy the said buttons
  • below the package, a ball of yarn
  • on the next pile, the yarn I'll give my friend as a gift, the yarn she gave me as a gift, plus two more balls of yarn
  • next to it, packages of... well, yarn
  • below all that, the kits of candlewicking embroidery I bought (yes!) a long time ago (months, I think)
  • you can't see it, but behind that wall, there's a bunch of other yarn packages
On the other shelf:
  • the numbered box above all has - guess what! - yarn
  • a box of buttons to cover
  • my "gather-all" box, which I got as a gift from my friend S., full of varied things - needles, threads...
  • my machine to cover buttons (it's also for other things, but that's the function I'm most attracted to)
  • two metal buckets, which I got when I bought paint for the apartment (in the remodeling a while ago - last year, I think). They were free if you got that brand of paint, and when I saw them I logically thought of them filled with craft stuff - too bad I just got two of them, there were four colors (do you like having all things from a collection? I'm obsessed with that kind of thing.)
  • a lost yarn, which I used for some tests
  • a magazine holder, with many things beside magazines inside
  • and again you can't see it, but my sewing machine is behind all that, and also a couple of little bags with thousand things in them
Of course that for tiding all this up I had to take almost everything out of place. The biggest packages of yarn I already knew I couldn't move around, so I just tried to group them together. Inside the bags, totes and plastic bags, I found many UFOs, which headed back, of course, to the closet without me thinking a lot about them (but with a sting of remorse for not having finished them yet).

In the lower part, the sewing machine couldn't move anywhere either. What I did was take all the sewing supplies and organize them inside the "gather-all" - it has three pockets in the front, where I put the sewing pencils and the fabric scissors. Ok, I also put crochet hooks, the double pointed knitting needles and a pack of elastic. And I also put there the pincushions and the buttons. And the buttons to cover. And the matrix to cover buttons. Please don't judge me.

I have a problem (well, another one!): I can't throw away sewing remains. Threads too big that were left behind, strips of fabric... that's what the bucket below had. I decided to discard everything, except for a big scrap of fabric that remained from a bag I made. It was empty! Who knew... In the other bucket, were my paper punches (I only have two, I still can't get the hang of scrapbooking, but I love the punches), velcro, a big piece of string and strips of fabric that I didn't want to analyze at the time. I already managed to throw away a bunch, I left the rest for some other time. Or not. It's that idea that you might need something right after you decide to throw it away. I'm getting better.

Look how it turned out:

I know that looking at it like that it seems like I didn't organize anything, but believe me, it's MUCH better. Now I can see everything it's there! The embroidery box is still there, with the little bag of origami paper right behind it, then all the yarn, with some UFOs and WIPs on top of them - now it's easy to see what needs to be done. In the front, I left the embroidery kits I bought from Lee Albretch (they're small, I think I can make them quickly, so I wanted to leave them in sight). I also left things that I bought because I thought they were so cool but until today (oh the shame...) I haven't tried them out yet: kits to make yo-yos and fabric flowers.

On the lower shelf, now with much more room and tidier: the "gather-all" with the sewing stuff and other small things (all together, at least), the machine to cover buttons with the fabrics for toys in front of it, and back to their places, the sewing machine, with the buckets and the magazine holder. This one now holds many things that are not magazines, but it's easier to find everything now.

To prove to myself that the organization was surprisingly a success:

The door closes! :) (that small gap is normal, believe me)

I think knitting is what takes up the more space, isn't it? I'm holding myself not to buy any more yarn, no matter how many sale news get to my inbox!

Mission accomplished! Who knew...

But here goes the crazy part I talked about in the beginning: that is not the only place in the house where I have craft supplies. To the general despair of my husband, of course. But since he doesn't read this blog, I'll show it only to you the other places. Don't you feel so special now?

Here is where my stuff was before. Clearly all that yarn came after. This is the corner in the home office closet where we keep backpacks - and right away you see my Drift Scarf coming out of a tote! There is also part of the cross stitch nativity scene materials. Please don't mind the mess in the back.

Up in my wardrobe. The blue boxes are of sewing (filled of patchwork fabrics and acrylic blanket for filling) and embroidery (fabric, ribbons, many and many things!) supplies. The candy can I got as a gift (I think I already told this here...), filled with embroidery threads. The white box with a heart and the other colored one were gifts. Can you see that the area below needs some space? My clothes need ironing twice: before and after going to the closet.

Hmm I forgot to take a picture of the upper part... that's where I keep a bag full of stuffing. Oh, it's just a bag.

This is the chair in the TV room where I usually craft at night. My Tricoteiras tote is the one around now, with the cross stitch nativity scene and a knitting project inside. (If you want a bag of these too, you can get it here. I love this tote!)

Did you notice the patchwork cushion? It was the result of my first class of this technique! :)

On my way to photograph other places with lost, I mean, stuff put away, is my project for a scenario (that's how this wooden box with glass on the front is called over here). I wanted it to look like a corner with vases of flowers. I left it over the fridge, and every time I pass by I start thinking about what I could do to make it better... I haven't even glued the flowers in the little vases yet, so much lack of decision. The patina I made it myself, and in the background there's a decoupage napkin. I'm acception ideas!

My laundry room has a small room , where I put the old home office desk, which now supports the basket of clothes for ironing (fun for the weekend!) and the tote I made to go to the craft classes. That tote is awesome! Inside there are brushes, paint, and many other things. I got plans for all of them, but art is something you can't just force, you know? (HAHAHAHA so many excuses... but really, I mean to use everything I have - there's too much money spent, oops, invested in there).

There's a small closet to keep brooms and cleaning products next to that desk - and on top of it, more craft stuff! Ai ai... on the left, napkins for decoupage (including some with Christmas motifs!), a box in which I spent a LOT of time and products for cracking effects, and which cover turned out horrible - and on top of the skating boxes (I just went to one class with my friend S. months ago, and they have been bought YEARS ago - I also intend to learn and use them a lot - trust me!)... where was I? Ah, yes, up there you see a tray I'm painting slowly (I have to wait for the paint to dry out and I don't have patience for that) and a box I'm also painting and I wanted to use for the sewing stuff. Or embroidery, now that the sewing stuff got a home. Which proves that the painting materials are actually being used, just like I said I planned to do.

Need more proof? Look the brushes in the water (or what's left of it). They're being used alright!

Very well, I think that after all that you're not likely to come back here, are you? Muito bem, acho que depois de tudo isso você dificilmente vai voltar aqui, não é? I mean, if someone read this so far... anyway, I'm always excited to start project, but sometimes it's hard to finish them. But I'm determined to put to use everything I have here!

Feel free to push me! :)

Ah, yes... yesterday I forgot to show the yarn I got for my friend! Here it is:

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I completely forget to show you some pretty things I saw during my vacation!

In August, I spent a week in Bariloche, Argentina. The place is wonderful, with lots to see and get to know, and for the first time I've seen snow! Here in Brazil snow is very rare, and only down the south, far from where I live. In Bariloche I finally could play with snow, admire while it fell down and the next day, when the world was white - and even the mess it leaves behind when it melts! I'd love to live somewhere where it snows...

But what I wanted to show you is the yarn I found there: the region has lots of merino sheep, and because of that there are lots of hand spun and dyed yarn. The price is the problem... to make a pullover, for example, I'd have to buy many skeins. Not to mention the luggage space to bring them home. So I just brought pictures! But look how gorgeous:

This was the corner of a real tourist shop - souvenirs, t-shirts - that had this treasure hidden in the back. Aren't the colors beautiful?

I found a skein of Bariloche among them - this yarn is also sold over here, by Aslan, and the girls from the knitting group have used it a lot this winter.

This is a close up of the first picture: many and many skeins hand spun! Each with 1450 grams, at 350 pesos (around 88 dollars). Remember what I said about the price? But I value the work of the artisans, and I think it's a fair price. It just doesn't fit my travel budget! :)

The natural colors are very pretty, and I noticed they use leaves, tree and onion peels to dye the yarn.

I was lucky (maybe my husband disagrees...) and there was a craft fair while we were at Bariloche. Most products for sale were finished, and few artisans were selling yarn. But of course I found some (you just need to know where to look, right?) and I bought a skein for my dear friend L. and some kind of brooch for shawls. Maybe my friend gets them both, we still couldn't arrange to meet!

I just took a picture of the skeing to post here at the blog. And I found that from August 22, when I came back from the trip, until today, October 7, the brooch for shawls is lost somewhere. This says two things about me:

1. when I come back from trips, or visits to craft/patchwork fairs, or anything like that, I simply hide the things I brought from myself. No matter how much I think about blogging about them. Who knows why.

2. I urgently need to organize my craft stuff. Again. Which probably means they won't fit back where they are. Physics does not apply to craft supplies, that's a proven fact. If I try to organize my stuff, they simply don't fit back where they were!

Very well, I guess I already have another task for tomorrow... wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's alive!!!

Very well, as I said before, I haven't been writing a lot, but the works are in progress - slow and steady, right?

In the last couple of weeks I've been developing a website as a freelancer - oh, I just love building websites, especially working from home! And just like it happens every time something changes in my routine, it's difficult to put the end-of-day-fun in its own place. But I'll get organized some time.

Meanwhile, look what I made while I wasn't writing in the blog!

Remember the Drift Scarf? Well, it's kinda big now... sort of. Around 40 cm, right? (~25 inches) The thing is, every time I make the point that makes the knitting look so nice, the scarf shortens. So it doesn't grow very fast... but I think it's coming along pretty nicely and, hey, if you can't wear it this winter, there's always next year's!

And speaking of next year, we're really close to Christmas again and my nativity scene is practically at the same point. I'm not even commenting this, it's a work worth of Greek mythology, and I don't care when it's going to be finished. It will someday.

It's even further than in this pictures, because it's been days since I started writing this post. The word is: organization. It seems like I can never get organized!

I think I commented in the previous post that during this absence time I made a case for the new laptop at home (here in Brazil we say "notebook" much more frequently - the americans I've worked with always found this very odd). Look how it looks closed:

It looks like floating in a white background because the picture got too much light in it... it looked gray, and in fact it's black! Now look how it is open:

Ah, isn't it cute? I closed it with velcro, and I was careful to leave the softer side on the lap, so it won't scratch the little thing. Because after all, Apple makes gorgeous stuff, mas they get spoiled so easily...

My husband wants me to embroider the case. He's even chosen a motif: a pineapple. Because there's an Apple inside, you see? (eyes rolling...) I still haven't felt like doing it, especially because it's not going to be easy to embroider right on the case, now it's done. There's a layer of stuffing, and where would the laptop be while the embroidery was in progress? Maybe I'll embroider some other fabric and then do some applique. Or maybe I won't do anything. Personally, I'd rather do this case in soft pink, with beautiful patchwork fabric... but I don't think my husband would have liked it so much.

To wrap up, when I decided to take these pictures the day was sunny (it is again today, after days-and-days-and-days of gray sky), so now you'll meet some of my little plants:

Estas são minhas mini-Kalanchoe (I don't know if that's how it's written... and I'm too lazy to ask Google) (I couldn't hold myself, and asked - and I got it right!). They came with red flowers, which looked adorable in the white vase - but they've never shows again! :( I'm still hoping they'll come back some day.

And here's my vase of african violets! After the first bloom, it took a long, really long time, for flowers to show up again. It was worth it, wasn't it?

Did you notice the dishcloth under the vase? I did that too! I'll tell you the story in some other post, ok? ;-)