Archive for the ‘2017 TO THE MAX’ Category

2017 Goals: Quarter Quell

25% done with 2017!!! But am I 25% done with my goals? WE SHALL SEE

1. Write a Beginner’s Guide Once a Month: 25%
Nailed it! So far.

January: Weaving
February: Calligraphy
March: Cross stitch

Probably the most fun of these was Weaving since I took an actual class (at the John C Campbell Folk School omg). The one that I will probably continue to do is cross stitch.

Gotta keep working on my Disney Villains

Gotta keep working on my Disney Villains

2. Sew something once a month: 25%

In January I turned a dress into a skirt by cutting off the top and sewing in a new waistband.

Modeled here by Olivia and I

Modeled here by Olivia and I

In February I tried to make a fabric bin out of my random extra fabric. It worked out okay, I guess. Here’s a picture before the cardboard went in to stiffen the sides:

So floppy

So floppy

I needed five more of those, so in March I made more. A variety of subpar binding methods were attempted:

The galaxy duct tape is my fave binding method

The galaxy duct tape is my fave binding method

3. Write in my journal once a week: 25%
The key to this one has been to just leave my journal out in conspicuous places so I remember to write in it more. I also tape in stuff I want to save:

A memory FOR ALL TIME

A memory FOR ALL TIME

4. Make one new recipe every week: 23%
I have missed two weeks of this: January 15 when we were out of town for the whole week, and March 5 when I was way too sick to consider cooking anything. Probably the single best recipe I’ve tried in the three months is Sally’s Baking Addiction’s strawberry frosting. Holy shit is it good. Here’s the only recipe I’ve made for this project that I’ve bothered to take a picture of, I guess:

Sweet potato cups with marshmallow topping

Sweet potato cups with marshmallow topping

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%!
That’s right, I already finished a whole goal.

6. Finish a coloring book: 60%
I have been working on this one a lot! The coloring book I chose is Alice in Wonderland themed.

Finishing a whole coloring book is taking longer than I envisioned, though

Finishing a whole coloring book is taking longer than I envisioned, though

7. Read the Dictionary of Imaginary Places: 30%
I’m currently in F, and I’m learning a lot. For instance, there are a ton of books set in the center of the Earth, particularly from the 18th and 19th centuries. People thought there was all kinds of crap down there.

8. Be active every day: 16%
I was never going to get 100% on this one, but I’m doing even worse than projected. March really brought my average down. First I was sick for a full week, and then I managed to hurt my back. I’m slowly getting into my routine again now.

Total: 38%

Looks like finishing up the nail polish goal is really saving me here!

Previously: 2017 Goals: To the Max!

Beginner’s Guide to Cross Stitch

This month’s beginner’s guide was supposed to be about rock climbing, but I may or may not have been the victim of a rock climbing related scam(??? or I’m just unusually bad at reading comprehension, I guess). Anyway, I have now vowed never to rock climb and so my back up thing was cross stitching. This is kind of cheating because I have actually cross stitched before, when I was 13, out of a kit. But this is the big leagues now, my friends. Observe:

Got myself a plastic frame and everything

Got myself a plastic frame and everything

I got this cool Disney Villains pattern on Etsy and had to assemble the supplies myself.

Everyone is cuter as cross stitch

Everyone is cuter as cross stitch

Luckily, one of my coworkers was giving away a ton of cross stitching supplies, including a lot of embroidery floss! Yay! Hardcore cross stitchers agree that the best way to store your thread for easy access is to wind the skein around a little card, write the number of the color, and arrange them in a plastic box like so:

Numerically they don't make a rainbow, sadly

Numerically they don’t make a rainbow, sadly

I like this pattern because each figure doesn’t take a very long time, so you really feel like you’re getting somewhere after only an hour. I’ve probably been doing at least 30 minutes a day for a few weeks now. Yay!!

The pink line is to measure the middle to know where to start. It gets taken out at the end

The pink line is to measure the middle to know where to start. It gets taken out at the end

I wasn’t able to finish this project in a month, but I’m excited to have my first Legit piece of cross stitch art. I’ve read some articles online about how to frame them properly so I’ll try that when the time comes.

The back is less pretty

The back is less pretty

Resources:
Buzzfeed Beginner Cross Stitch Guide
Framing Finished Cross Stitch

Previously: Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy
Next: ???

Failing at Being a Girl: 30 Days of Nails

I distinctly remember feeling like I was a failure as a girl. Throughout middle and high school, I was woefully inept at so many things that my peers just seemed to learn effortlessly. I now know that the keyword there is “seem.” Whether I was pretending to have an opinion when we talked about which boy band members were hot or tentatively spraying myself with body mist and then getting a headache because allergies, I spent a long time feeling like my failure at gender performance was a failure at being my gender.

Luckily, I know now that it’s impossible to be “bad” at being a girl, and things like nail polish and makeup have only as much importance as you place on them. Still, maybe someday I’ll want to have that skill, and it never hurts to try. So I vowed to keep my nails painted or otherwise pretty for 30 whole days to prove I could do it. I learned a lot. Namely:

1) This is annoying and takes too much time. By the end of the month, I’d gotten things down to where I was a lot faster. But some time is still longer than no time. This is only going to be a special occasions thing for me from now on.

2) I put my nails through abuse. Between cooking, knitting, typing, and all the book wrangling at the library, most nail treatments (including nail wraps) really didn’t last very long for me. With one exception, namely:

These bad boys

These bad boys

3) Inococo Nail Polish Strips are somehow the best??? They lasted so long and didn’t chip or flake away, unlike EVERYTHING ELSE I TRIED. Plus they came off super easy despite being glittery?? And were hella cheap because I bought them at Rite Aid?? They were also the easiest thing to put on out of everything? Despite trying hard for a week to have a complaint about these, I can’t find one. And you know how much I love to complain.

4) If you got nail polish on your hand, whatever. It’ll wear off in like a day. My much more nail-savvy friend Alana imparted this wisdom to me, and she was right.

5) Nail quick dry spray exists. So that’s neat.

Here is my nail journey:

Day 1-3

I started this ~journey~ when my friend Alana was visiting me because she has–I’m not exaggerating on this at all–a small duffel bag of nail supplies. That I assume stays with her at all times. You have to be prepared for a nail emergency, guys. Clearly I was not. She gave me some good advice (see above) and let me use her Jamberry nailpolish and a Jamberry wrap to create this masterpiece:

Amateur hour, I know

Amateur hour, I know

The Jamberry polish was actually pretty nice–it went on smoother and thicker than the cheap nail polish I usually buy. And the quick dry spray actually worked. I was inspired to go to Ulta and buy some for myself. But despite Jamberry’s promises the nail wrap lasted three days. Inexpert application? Certainly. Here was my solution:

Day 4

Just paint the bare thumb with a slightly different color pink and a way different glitter. It's fine

Just paint the bare thumb with a slightly different color pink and a way different glitter. It’s fine

Alana was gone, okay? I substituted a much cheaper pink nail polish I already had, plus “pinata fiesta”(!) glitter that was on clearance(?) at Ulta when I went to get the nail drying quick spray. I know, it looks shittier than I normally do, so the next day I replaced it with:

Day 5-7

I don't know why making a weird claw is my default nail pose

I don’t know why making a weird claw is my default nail pose

Yes, even middle school me knew this was kind of tacky, but on the plus side, I was getting quicker and more confident at nail painting! Even with my left hand!

Day 8-14

Love ittttttt

Love ittttttt

You KNOW I couldn’t paint something so neat, let alone ombre. Yep, it’s a nail sticker. From Rite Aid. The life changing Inococo Nail strips. They stick on like stickers, no heat required. Instead of feeling like a sticker on your nail, it definitely has more the feel of nail polish. Same with removal. Which I only did because I figured I should. I feel like these may have actually lasted way longer.

Day 15-16

Channeling Ms. Frizzle

Channeling Ms. Frizzle

I bought these geode nail wraps on Etsy because I guess I thought I should try a non-Jamberry one to see if… I don’t know, the pyramid scheme was my problem all along? Ha ha, no, nail wraps still suck. Observe not four hours later:

What the f

What the f

Maybe it was against the rules of my agreement with the internet, but I went around like that for a whole other day before I had time to change them. By now nails were starting to annoy me, and I swore off nail wraps for good. Except you, Inococo Nail Strips. Never you.

Day 17-20

No time for anything fancy

No time for anything fancy

I almost gave up around this point, but I was SO CLOSE, I slapped some purple on there. But of course it started to chip after just one shift at the library, so…

Day 20-30

??????

I painted them blue. OVER the purple. Because I’ve got stuff to do, okay, and all the nail polish remover was not great for my skin or nails. Anyway, I know I took pictures of this, but for some reason I can’t find them. Also, they were looking pretty raggedy by Day 25, but that was around the time I got the flu, so there was no way in hell I was going to repaint them. The last five days my nails and I both looked like crap. But they were still painted, so I’m counting it. Plus the thought of starting over makes me feel sick all over again.

In conclusion, please compliment each other’s nails when they are painted or otherwise pretty, because that shit is hard.

Previously: 2017 Goals

Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

This month I was learning on my own instead of taking a class, so I know I didn’t do as thorough a job as if I had the guidance of a professional/someone forcing me to do things. Still, I consulted a lot of professionals, in the form of taking their books out from the library:

Sources (Books)
Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thore
Spencerian Handwriting by Platts Roger Spencer
Simple Stroke Calligraphy by Marci Donley
Encyclopedia of Calligraphy Techniques by Dana Hardy Wilson
Calligraphy by Margaret Morgan
Calligraphy in Ten Easy Lessons
Step by Step Calligraphy
Mastering Calligraphy by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholes

Of these, I liked the first one, Modern Calligraphy, the best. It went really in-depth about supplies and what to look for, explaining where you really do need to spend some money and where it’s okay to cheap out, especially for beginners. I also had this amazing Christmas present from Melissa:

A calligraphy kit!

A calligraphy kit!

It had a good practice booklet, pen, ink, and vellum. It was nice to have the basic supplies already. Here’s a practice booklet:

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

I also can’t seem to get the thin vs thick lines that really define calligraphy. It’s all about the pressure you exert, which I suppose I could get with more practice:

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

I’m probably not going to get more practice, though, because I discovered this month that, though I like the results of calligraphy, I don’t really like doing it, particularly. It’s fine, but I don’t have the drive to put in the time and effort I’d need to actually get good at it.

HOWEVER, one of the online sources I consulted, The Postman’s Knock, had an awesome tutorial about how to do CHEATING CALLIGRAPHY!! I am all about cheating, y’all. You can do it with a ballpoint, which I write in my journal with all the time. I immediately started practicing.

What would you have tried first?

What would you have tried first?

I write fast, which is probably why my handwriting is largely illegible. But for this you have to slow down, so I’m hoping I’ll at least take that lesson away from it to improve the quality of my journals in general, if not have them in beautiful Spencerian hand like I maybe naively hoped would happen this month.

I've started doing the first letter of each entry, like I'm important or something

I’ve started doing the first letter of each entry, like I’m important or something

I’m glad I took this month to play with calligraphy since it’s something that’s always interested me. Now I know all I want to about it, and I don’t have to wonder anymore. Plus, I think it’s improved my writing in some little ways.

Best Part: Livening up my journal!

Livens up the journal!

Like this!


worst Part: Sucking at drawing means sucking at calligraphy
Will I do this again?: Nope

Not sure what my plan for next month is yet, but I’m tentatively saying rock climbing!

Previously: Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

One of my goals this year is to try a new thing every month, and for January I took an intense week-long weaving course at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The Folk School itself is pretty incredible, and you should definitely check it out, but today we’re here to talk about weaving. On a four harness floor loom. If you’re a beginner and just want to get your feet wet weaving, I’m not sure I’d recommend a floor loom, because even the small model (“Baby Wolf”) that we used was a beast.

They all had names, and mine was Osma

They all had names, and mine was Osma

Before I went, I watched a bunch of youtube videos of other people using looms, in the hopes that it would help me understand the big picture. It kind of helped, I guess, although the process was still way more complicated than I thought. But before you even get to the loom, you need to pick your yarn and colors and do a bunch of math. Surprise! Every “feminine art” is actually all about math in the end; the patriarchy of science is built on lies (duh).

warpweft

Do you remember what weaving is from those little pot holder looms? The vertical fibers are the warp, which gets secured to the loom through a lengthy process of measuring, adjusting tension, and threading things with hooks. The horizontal threads are what you add through the process of weaving by moving your shuttle back and forth.

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

That’s a warping board, if you want to know. Then you secure the warp you made on there with ties and transfer it over to the loom where the finnicky process begins.

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

That board with all the nails sticking in it is used to measure your warp out evenly to the width of the finished project.

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Then you wind the rest of that sucker on the back of the loom making sure to keep your tension even.

Have fun! This takes hours

Have fun! This takes hours

Then you thread each individual strand through the eye of a heddle (the metal needle-like things) in a specific order/pattern depending on the pattern you want to make on your finished work. Because this was a four-harness loom, there were four rows of heddles. The most basic threading would be harness 1, harness 2, harness 3, harness 4 repeat, but you can also get fancy.

LOL you thought the threading was over

LOL you thought the threading was over

NOW you’ve got to thread every individual strand through this metal contraption called a reed (because they were once made from legit reeds). Don’t skip any spaces! Unless you’re supposed to, of course.

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Now you are finally ready to weave! Once you tie up your pedals to specific harnesses and wind bobbins and what not. Pressing down on the pedals (okay, TREADLES, fine–I did learn the correct vocab) will lift certain harnesses, allowing you to pass your shuttle underneath those threads and above the others.

Yay, weaving!

Yay, weaving!

Best Part: My cool weaving class friends! I feel like we were a weaving support group.
Worst Part: Tuesday at noon when we had had NINE HOURS of class and still were not weaving.
Will I do this again?: I’m not rushing out to buy a four harness floor loom because I didn’t enjoy it enough to be worth the time and expense. But it was fun to try, and maybe a lap loom will be in my future.

I also made up a weaving song, set to the tune of Reading Rainbow because I was weaving a rainbow scarf:

Shuttle goes through the shed,
Do some math in your head
Look around the room
We’re all on looms
Weaving class!
I CAN WEAVE ANYTHING!
With sort of a plan
And a coffee can
Weaving class!

Yay!

Yay!

Next: Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

2017 Goals: TO THE MAX

Can you believe it’s already the second week of 2017 and I haven’t made any goals yet? Just kidding, you know I prepared a spreadsheet about this like a month ago. Here’s what they are:

1. Write a Beginner’s Guide Once a Month
This is a blog series I want to start where I try something I’ve never done before and write a blog post about it. The January one is going to be The Beginner’s Guide to Weaving since I’m taking a class on it this month, but other ideas I’ve had include: juggling, rock climbing, make up, calligraphy, and pole dancing (there’s a pole dancing gym near my apartment!). We’ll see what else the year brings!

2. Sew something once a month
Guys, my sewing machine is so underused that I can hear it crying in the night from neglect.

Don't be fooled by its calm exterior

Don’t be fooled by its calm exterior

So I’m hoping to change that this year, even with just small projects or alterations.

3. Write in my journal once a week
You probably remember how I keep a journal and have since 6th grade (and sporadically even before that). I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit lately, and I want that to change.

4. Make one new recipe each week
I’m pretty sure I do this anyway, but I want to keep better track. Last week I made a chicken apricot tagine that Steven hated. And I forgot to take a picture. Oh well.

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days
This is actually going to be a challenge for me, especially since I’ve found that working in the back room of the library pretty quickly destroys a manicure. So I’m going to get better at touch ups!

6. Finish a coloring book
Guys, I was into coloring books way before adult coloring books existed. I would spend plane trips faithfully coloring in pictures of animals and my fellow adult passengers would think there was something wrong with me. But I’m not sure I’ve ever actually finished a coloring book? This is wasteful and going to change.

7. Read The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi

It's only like 800 pages

It’s only like 800 pages


Remember how great it was reading all of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable in a year? Probably not, because it wasn’t, but I guess enough time has passed that I’m willing to give reading another one of my reference books a go. So far I’ve discovered there are way more underground civilizations than I could ever imagine.

8. Be Active every day
This one is the stretch goal because I already know I’m going to fail. Still, I’m making a stab at doing the best I can. I could never go to the gym every day or do any one kind of exercise every day, but this way I can mix it up between long walks, cycling, weights, yoga, aerobics class, whatever. On day eight I’m at about 50% which is shitty but also better than nothing.

Previously: 2016 Goals

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