Monday, August 30, 2010

More Human Every Day

Happy monday everyone! My kitchen has piles of dishes, the floors need a sweep and there is a small mountain range of laundry developing on my closet floor... but I made nice progress on my Waldorf doll! It was one of those weekends where I felt more crafty than tidy. I made a deal with myself to clean a little every day this week in order to make up for neglecting all of my "shoulds". It was well worth it because I feel like I really took a bite out of the project.

What was nice about this phase of the project was all of the couch-time it provided me. Lots of hand-sewing and stuffing. I was able to get through quite a few episodes of "Celebrity Ghost Stories" and "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" that were on my DVR. And hey, before you judge me for watching trashy celebrity reality TV, ask yourself how you could resist hearing Dick Van Patten or Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) tell their own real-life paranormal experiences. I mean really, I'm only human here!

Okay, back on track. So, I stretched the knit flesh-tone fabric over the head form and sewed it up the back of the head. It's not the most beautiful sewing I've ever done, but it is nice and tight and the seam will be covered up by the wig later.



From the picture in the directions, it seems like the head fabric was supposed to cover the entire 2nd ball of muslin. The fabric from the kit wasn't big enough to stretch over that part on mine. I'm sure the kit supplied contained the right amount of fabric and this was just "user error" on my part. So, I whip-stitched the bottom of the knit to the muslin to hold it tight.

Then I moved on to sewing the seams on the arms and legs:



I used a very open zigzag stitch (as recommended in the pattern) and double-stitched in areas that would have more stress on them. I then had these 3 components:



From here I proceeded to stuff the arms and the legs. I got really excited because it was starting to look like something, finally! And the cotton knit fabric felt so soft. I'm going to love this doll, I just know it. A while ago I head read on a blog that I love, Clean, that Rachel used some lavender in the body stuffing to make the doll smell good. I loved that idea so I took some bulk lavender and made a sachet to place in the center of the trunk of the body. I just took a piece of scrap fabric and sewed up a quick little pouch that would fit nicely in there.



The last part I was able to accomplish this weekend was to sew the arms to the head-shoulder area. Again, it is not my prettiest sewing, but I reinforced it 3 or 4 times and made sure it was durable. This area will be covered up by the body fabric so it's really not that big of a deal. I'm very concerned with this little guy being sturdy. I mean really, this is for a rough little boy who is more likely to play "construction site" or "superhero" with it than something gentle.



This Frankenstein creature is really creeping my husband out. I need to get this thing put together so that he can see how cute it really is. Talk to you soon!

Cassandra

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm a Giant Geek

Somewhere around 1997 or so, there was a cultural shift. I'm not sure how it happened - maybe it was the rise of Microsoft and Bill Gates becoming the richest man in the world - but suddenly nerds ruled the world. It was hip to be square. Or, at least, being a nerd didn't automatically generate ridicule.

For some of us, this shift was both scary and affirming. I'd spent more years than I care to admit trying to fit into the cool crowd. And then, seemingly overnight, I was not only allowed to be a giant geek but being a geek was actually kind of cool (in a way... sort of...)

It took a few years but eventually I embraced my geek-ness completely. It started in 2005 when a dear friend who lives in Atlanta invited me to come to Dragon*Con - the country's largest pop-culture fan convention. I went - a little reluctantly. I figured it would be good for a laugh and an excuse to spend a weekend with my friend. Little did I know that I would "find my people."

Now, before you start making fun of me, let me be clear that I don't do "cos-play" (costuming) which also means I don't LARP ("live action roll playing" for those not in the know.) I'm not a hard-core gamer and I don't know every line from every Star Trek episode ever. But, I love pop culture and the media. And this convention has it in spades.

In the end, most of the people who attend this convention are just like me. Their personal geek might be different than mine. They may actually be able to name every actor that played Dr Who. In order. With their respective years. But that's not what matters. What matters is that for one, glorious weekend 40,000 people respect that you love whatever that thing is that you love. And you don't have to hide your geeky thing - even if it is being a Furry.

So what does this have to do with crafting? Well...nothing really except that I made a dragon scarf (Morehouse Farm pattern*) for my friend who attends the convention with me and I'm desperately trying to complete another one for myself in the next 6 days. Here's the completed one:




The new one has about 7 spikes of the tail done. At this rate, I may finish it before the actual convention - if I don't get sidetracked as we all know I'm prone to do. (See blog name.)

Just to give you all fair warning, you can expect any post I do between 9/2 and 9/7 to be specifically about Dragon*Con. You will be regaled with real-time photos and stories because we're so "high-tech" over here at Ooo! Shiny!

The one thing from the convention that our readers might enjoy will be SteamPunk which is full of awesome craftiness - from clothes to everyday items to interiors and architecture. Check out this totally steampunked computer:



Last year was the first year of the Dragon*Con SteamPunk track. It's completely fascinating and I'm really taken with it. Had I not been so distractible, I might have actually pulled it together to make a costume this year - thus pushing me over the edge into the cos-play world and cementing my position forever as a complete and utter geek.

- Alex

*The Morehouse Farm site is great. They have TONS of fun "critter" patterns and kits. If you're specifically interested in doing the Dragon Scarf, I encourage you to visit my project page on Ravelry to get my tips on correcting a couple of mistakes in the pattern.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heads will roll!

I opened the bag. I ripped it in half on purpose… there would be no turning back. And then I realized that there was far less to be frightened of in the big bag than I thought. It was 90% wool roving, 10% other supplies. I can do this!
With my newfound swagger, I dove into step 1. The head form. In Waldorf Doll making, the head form is made from a loosely woven muslin tube, stuffed with wool roving.
Getting this just right was one of the things that kept me away from the doll kit. I thought that I would fumble with the tying and my stuffing would be lumpy. What reinforced my belief that this step would be difficult was the fact that the company I bought the kit from sells the head forms already made. But you know what? It was fine. I read the directions carefully and just went step by step. They were awesome. The illustrations were very helpful too. And it didn’t hurt that I had watched the dollmaking video all the way through before I even started. I think that helped a lot in keeping me from getting confused on the steps.
And then, voila! Little Finn has a head! Well, the start of one anyway. And, if can I toot my own horn, it looks a heck of a lot like the picture in the directions. Go me! Once I got into the directions of the kit I bought I was pleased to find out that this kit supplies dental floss to use for shaping the head. In the video tutorial I watched, the head was shaped with dollmaker’s string that had been soaked in water. The wet string didn’t look too difficult but the dental floss was really easy to work with and pulled tight in a snap. I was a bit concerned about it’s longevity, but I assume that the good people who assembled the kit know whereof they speak.
The directions for this doll did not include making a nose. Some Waldorf Dolls have noses, some don’t. I really wanted to do a nose so I used the instructions on this page and it was a cinch. I am a bit concerned that I made it a little too small. But, I’m sure it will be fine. The idea is really just the “impression” of a nose anyway.
So, this is where I am, the next step is to stretch the knit fabric tightly over the head and secure. I will write about that and more on my next post! Talk to you soon!
Cassandra

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh! How My Garden Grows.


"Growth is a greater mystery than death. All of us can understand failure,
we all contain failure and death within us, but not even the successful man
can begin to describe the impalpable elations and apprehensions of growth."
- Norman Mailer


Six years ago, my lovely little backyard was being used as an enormous dog pen. The previous owner had two huskies who lived outside year round. There were two gigantic kennels with dog houses in them that took up the bulk of the actual "yard" (where the grass should have been) and the tool shed was used as another dog house with straw on the floor. Because this was their primary home, the dogs walked, poo'd, dug, and slept wherever they liked. So, when I took over the house, the backyard wasn't, exactly, fit for human use.

That first summer, I hired a professional to come in an clean it up. He put in a small raised bed to my specifications and he graded and laid sod in all the other areas. Over the past five years, my garden has grown to include every plant-able area except for the grassy bits. It contains a small veggie patch, a large spot exclusively for basil, another small herb garden, a large flower garden, a large mint patch, a spot for roses and a spot for the legacy rhubarb. Last year, I tried to cultivate clematis against one side of the chain link fence but my efforts haven't yielded much success.

Lack of success has been a theme in recent years. Last summer my garden had some challenges. Mainly, the weather was weirdly unpredictable and, just when the plants hit their hard-core growth spurt, I left town for two weeks. When I returned, my tomatoes had gone prehistoric and were laying out over the patio like some sort of chlorophyll-octopus. In contrast, my cucumber plants only yielded three cukes and the "dead spot", where I tried a new combination of squashes, yielded nothing at all.

This summer, the combination of torrential rain and hellish heat kept me from maintaining my garden properly. Whole areas are overgrown. The new potato patch didn't get installed. The mid-summer flowers never really bloomed properly. On top of it all, everything is finishing it's run early. I generally harvest my basil in September. This year, it's easily two weeks past its prime already. It's been a very disappointing year on my little patch of land.

But, even after two painful and unproductive garden years, I'll still be out there next summer. I keep faith that soon I'll have a perfect season, with balmy weather for planting and weeding and the the right balance of sunshine and rain so my plants will be at their most productive. Because, in the end, every spring brings the promise of new growth and hope for beauty and abundance - and isn't that enough to keep us going?

Plus, I'm thinking about putting in bee hives next spring so there's always that.

- Alex

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Shark

Remember in Jaws how Quint knew that shark was a creature not to be taken lightly? He’d been around the block a few times and, even though he had not seen the shark in person, he knew it would not go down without a big fight. Well, that is how I feel about a certain sewing project in my queue.

Meet the Waldorf Doll kit.




Yes, I even bought a kit. And I’m still intimidated. I haven’t even removed the bits from the bag yet. Maybe it’s the knit fabric that requires me to use a ball-point needle. (I have this vision of puckering fabric and me… seam ripping… and ripping.) Or maybe it’s the crazy head shaping process and wig making. I dunno.

The other day I rented a dvd from the library called “Waldorf Doll Making Instructional DVD” by Sarah Kous. She was lovely. The directions were clear and well illustrated. Even that did not cure my procrastination. It has been staring at me from the corner while I’ve made new pillowcases for my bed, baby blankets for my babies (and other babies), throw pillows, pajamas, and more.

But now it’s time. It’s time for me to make a little fabric boy to be a buddy to my 3 year old Finn. And, just because I am creepy like that, I am making one that looks just like him. That is the real appeal of this project for me. I need to get over it and just dive in.

My dear friend and blogmate Alex would say I have “paralysis of analysis”. In so many words, I am over-thinking it. Truth be told, I am a competent sewer, a reasonably intelligent person, and have the encouragement of others who have slain the Waldorf Doll shark and lived to tell the tale.

So, lucky you! You get to read/see the blow-by-blow of my adventure in Waldorf Doll making. This will be a short series from me with the ups, downs and hopefully good tips I am learning along the way. I hope that it is helpful, informative and fun.

Cassandra

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Testing


We're really into this technology so are trying to post from the cell phone. Hilarious!


Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And so it begins....

After many months of discussion, collaboration, and procrastination, we are here.

Starting this project has been a lesson in tenacity. As our header indicates, we are not (exactly) the most focused folks on the planet. So, basically, we start, we stop, we talk, we watch a movie, we knit. You get the picture. Eventually, we managed to pull it together and produce a concept and a blog space that we're proud of.

Frankly, we probably thought about it too hard.

Regardless of our faults, the one thing we're both really good at is creating. We make stuff. We perceive the world differently. We find beauty where others don't. This is important to us and, we think, important to a lot of other people as well. We'd like this space to be a fun place to gather and see how we (and our readers) are creating today. Maybe we'll even make some new friends.

Welcome aboard. We hope you enjoy our ramblings and find some value in what we have to offer.

Alex and Cassandra