Monday, March 30, 2015

Battle Tested, Akron Approved

This past weekend was the Eryndor season opener. Jack couldn't convince me to attend (26 degrees F? Nope. I'll stay nice and warm inside, wrapped in my fluffy red bath robe and fuzzy socks, thank you) but he, Loken, and Ygritte did make it down to Toledo for the day.

Jack was sporting his brand new Akronian uniform surcoat that I spent Friday evening making. It actually survived pretty darn well./

It took me the entirety of Friday to do, but Jack did bribe me with a Starbucks, some baklava, Italian from my favorite restaurant for dinner, and even stopped at FedEx to acquire my HAED material packs so that I would have time to finish the surcoat. Hopefully at next practice I will be able to get a full shot so as to display my master craftsmanship.

I still have four more to make (including one for myself) and six more to embroider. I confess to being more than a little tired of working on these - they're very much the same thing over and over again. By the time I'm done we'll have about a dozen or so members in uniform and I will cajole everyone into a group photo. And then I will probably refuse to make any more for a very long time. I need a little variety!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I'm trying something new this week...

After reading Ravenna's Post on Slowing Down, I decided to take her advice. For me, slowing down means taking my time with what I do, letting go of the pressure to "get something done" and choosing projects that I want to play with instead of those that I feel I have to work on.

Thus, the last two evenings were spent on my Affairs of the Heart Quilt. Two more blocks with the satin stitching completed and I am very happy with the way they are turning out. They still need the hand embroidery, but that will happen on a TV night sometime soon.

Part of slowing down also means taking the time to cook healthier food, and because I've let go of the demand to GET SOMETHING DONE, I now have time to enjoy cooking. I'm happy to say that I cooked at home three times this week (I know that doesn't sound like much but there are still two evenings left this week!) and I managed to integrate fresh veggies and fruit into each meal. And, not every meal involved pasta of some sort (I dearly love my pasta.) One night we ate steak, broccoli, and pears with raspberries and tonight we had chicken salads with a side of pineapple and strawberries. This is definitely a step up for us and I hope I can keep it up in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow its back to the grind as I am planning on tackling Jack's Akron Surcoat, which he would like to wear on Saturday to the Eryndor event.

Now whether or not I can keep up my new plan to relax more is another story but we'll have to see how things play out in the weeks approaching Ragnarok.

Some of the seeds that Astrid helped me plant last Saturday are already sprouting and my zucchini plants are growing so fast that I'm not sure I'll be able to get them in the ground in time. I still have five weeks before the danger of frost is past.

Currently, the zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil, sage, and marigolds have all happily sprouted. I am a little anxious for warmer weather, so I can set up my raised bed garden. It won't be happening this weekend because temps will be hovering around freezing but I'm hopeful for next weekend. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stitch from Stash Update for March

The math is a little more intense that usual but here goes.

Stitch from Stash Update March 2015

March Budget: $70.09 
Added: $30.00 Gift Card
Added Bonus from work: $63.10
Spent: $103.96 on two HAED material packs and one Dimensions Kit
Carryover into April: $59.23
April Budget: $84.23

Okay, so maybe it isn't really that much of a story, but here it is. Traditionally, any occasional overtime funds or rare bonuses that I earn at work have been guilt-free crafty spending. So when I received a small bonus for doing really good last year, I shuffled it into my SFS budget. (It was actually $100 award, but the government somehow feels entitled to a cut of my hard work, so I only added the actual net amount that I received after taxes.) According to official SFS rules, that means that I am not permitted to participate in any giveaways for this month, but I'm comfortable with that. 

Heading my way sometime in the next couple of weeks are the floss only material packs for Asiria and Innocence. 

And also, this Dimensions kit that I was drooling over a while ago, completing my set of four seasonal fantasy kits.

If I save up the rest of my stitching budget until June, I will have enough money to get another material kit. I have discovered that I vastly prefer to have someone else acquire all the thread and organize it for me. My stitchbows in a binder still somehow feel too cumbersome and disorganized and if HAED sets up the material pack, all the thread will be from the same lots and I won't have to worry about being short in one color or matching lots. 

The biggest problem that I always had with kits is the thread tangle, and I've managed to overcome that with Library Kittens by putting each color in its own Floss-away bag. This system is also working great for Gandalf, so I will probably eventually convert all my WIPs to using the bags.

As far as my quilt SFS, I went over my budget by approximately $20. BUT, that is because for some reason, I started counting background and backing fabric which were originally exceptions. Since I'm not really sure where I'm going with my quilting SFS, I'm just going to attempt to keep to a $25 budget and continue to track my spending.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Finish, A Disaster, and A Smart Cookie

We have another block finish for Affairs of the Heart! The purple hearts are supposed to have embroidery swirls, but I left them off because I liked the fussy cutting and didn't want to obscure the fabric.

A few nights ago while embroidering, I discovered that the bobbin thread had caught, the needle had broken, and the hoop had popped off the machine, leaving me with a huge tangled mess that I literally had to saw off at the presser foot. So yesterday, I sat down and attempted to realign the stitching which is something that you never want to do. Ever. Some of it went perfect and some went just terrible.

This is where I restarted the embroidery
You can see from the picture below that I was able to get the legs, tail, and wing lined up pretty well but the head and neck are a problem. I plan on taking the gold thread and using my darning foot to try to fill in the places that are a little sketchy and I'll just have to hope for the best.

I did check out an estimate of how much it would cost to have these done professionally and it would be at least $30-$40 per person, so I will go ahead and try to finish them, hoping for the best. I think I learned a few things from this that will help prevent it in the future.

Anyway, Astrid spent the night last night and watched me attempting to fix the dragon and was very curious about the embroidery machine, so I taught her how to use it. She choose three different patterns and picked fabrics and colors for them. By the time we were done, she was able to rethread the machine by herself, manipulate positioning, and select the patterns. She's an extremely smart cookie and caught on very quickly.

Meanwhile, while she was working on that, I got OCD about my thread rack and put it in color-betical order.

Its so shiny!

I've also been working on my butterflies for the last two weeks and I'm just about ready to phase them back out of the rotation. I may work on Gandalf or I may pick up Fall Fairy again.

As of 03/22/2015
Stitch from stash update coming soon (I was really bad this month, I'll tell you the whole story later) and hopefully a few surcoat finishes before too long.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hail Akron!

Last Saturday was the Garb Party. We are trying to get everyone garbed up for the 2015 Dagorhir season.

I started by making working copies of the pattern and getting everyone to cut out their own pieces. Then, they pinned while I raced them through my serger. From about 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm we made seven surcoats.

This was the digital mock up that by computer savvy / graphics design guru of a husband put together for me.

And here is my physical mock up, embroidered dragon and all!

It does of course, need finishing and then I intend to rent it out to people who show up for practice without garb.

Getting the dragon designed with my embroidery software was significantly less painful than I thought it would be.

The first pattern I stitched out okay, but the outlining didn't show up and the stitch fill was sketchy on the edges.

Back to the drawing board, and a little bit of time and a few changes later, my Embird software produced this beauty:

Okay sure, not quite perfect professional quality but I still think its darn good! And I'm not quite sure how to fix that little overlap on the tail, because it doesn't show up on the graphics so for now, we're going to roll with this and I will start embroidering it on everyone surcoats.

However, I decided to start on the mock up and see how it embroidered out, and I'm glad I did. Not only do I have a slightly better idea of where to locate the emblem, but you can see that somehow, the embroidery shifted near the end and the head and neck of the dragon have an improperly placed outline.

A quick trip into the world of internet research later (proper stablizer, check, proper hooping, check!), I determined that the embroidery arm had likely bumped something on the table and shifted the arm out of calibration. I have all my embroidery machine accessories and assorted gizmos on that table.

Jack was able to hang up my shelf last night and now I have a nice place to keep all my embroidery machine gadgets - I just have to remember not to pile the clean table with stuff!

My plans to get these embroidered tonight were just derailed by the fact that the company I ordered the thread from sent me bobbin thread in black and white instead of embroidery thread in black and gold, so now I have to get the wrong stuff returned and the right stuff delivered. I feel like I should be making some wisecrack about a dress right now.