Monday, February 28, 2011

9 - Out on the Ski Trail

It was a dream come true! Getting out on the ski trails was something I thought we wouldn't be able to do for many years. We finally invested in the Chariot Cougar and decided it was our anniversary gift to each other. She loves riding behind and I love that he does all the pulling!

The Lotus 52s is my 2011 project to capture one photo a week. I have a new lens and that makes it the right time to get to know my camera better. This is my effort to improve my images, to improve my processing, and to learn more about the world around me.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Iron Craft: A State of Mind

This week's Iron Craft challenge was to do a project that represents my hometown.

Completing this challenge was a very dramatic event for me. I knew right away what I wanted to do. Every since I attended Art-A-Whirl (the NE Minneapolis springtime art crawl reported to be the largest open-air art show in the country) I have wanted to do this project. Last May I saw a number of onesies for sale that had the state of Minnesota on them. I had to have one but the $24 pricetag prevented me from buying one. The Big D was certain I could make one of my own but I really had no idea how to do this.

The Iron Craft challenge got me going. Printing out a map of Minnesota was fairly easy and I printed it on card stock so the project started out great!

My major problem was that I've never done applique before. But I jumped right in and grabbed some cloth from the fabric store. My first stumble happened when I came home with my chosen fabric (a cute little piece with baby wildlife on it - foxes, bears, owls, skunks, etc) but I quickly realized that my little applique design could not get them all on one piece. So I packed up the Baby Lotus Bud again and headed back to the store.

Ealier that day I had searched the Internet for different applique techniques and had decided not to do the technique with the fusible webbing because I had none. My next misstep was trying to make this another freezer paper project. I haven't sewed much in my life, and the cutting and folding and sewing of the applique piece just about did me in.

I was frantic, pissed off, and ready to pull my hair out!! I had remembered to take pictures along the way so when I tried and tried again, I felt totally defeated.

By now it was late Thursday night and I could see a whole weekend being ruined by my applique defeat and the subsequent foul mood.

Then I remembered I had some stitch witchery.

Granted it was thin strips of the fusible webbing, but I made it work!

Now, can I remind you again that I haven't done much sewing? I decided on a blanket stitch which people on the Internet described as a "folksy" finish to applique. I wasn't sure if "folksy" was what I was going for but I really had no other options. I found the right color thread from my cross-stitching stash and gave it a try. Finding my old embroidery hoop helped tremedously!

And then it was done! Whew! I felt so relieved!

The next day I felt rather impressed with myself!

I wish I could have gotten a better photo of the Baby Lotus Bud but she's a wiley little thing now and hard to catch sitting still.

We went out for breakfast on Saturday and we got quite a few compliments on the shirt. I smiled so dang big thinking about how I saved myself over $20!!

Now I can't get my mind off my next applique adventure!
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Monday, February 21, 2011

8 - Atop the Old Brewery

Grainbelt has a new brew out called Nordeast named for this old brewery located in NE Minneapolis. I had tasted this beer from the tap at a local Thai restaurant and loved it. So I bought myself a case last night. But it wasn't as good as it was straight from the tap and unfortunately it did taste like the water had been pulled from the much polluted Mississippi River. Love the name, but not the beer.

The brewery was built by the Minneapolis Brewing Company in 1891 and still today is a beautiful building. From this photo, you'd never know that a major snow storm hit the area just one day later. Glad I caught a glimpse of the bright blue sky! Perhaps it will sustain me until the next 50 degree day.

The Lotus 52s is my 2011 project to capture one photo a week. I have a new lens and that makes it the right time to get to know my camera better. This is my effort to improve my images, to improve my processing, and to learn more about the world around me.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Iron Craft: Rajkumari in Gold

This week's Iron Craft challenge was craft something using gold.

Gold. Huh? OK. Gold.

Well, my baby is one year old now and although she is not very big, she has definitely grown out of her 6-month onesies. I had a bunch of 9-month onesies that I needed to personalize and in the case of gold I should probably say "fancy-up". She still fits into the 9 month stuff but it probably won't be for much longer, so I had to get on with the stenciling.

I tried freezer paper stenciling back in August. You can see the results here. I like this sort of project. It's doable for me and it is immensely satisfying, especially when I see my family wearing all the personalized shirts I made for them. I've done mostly stencils with designs on them, animals and robots, etc. Letters can be a bit trickier especially if the stencil is small.

For this week's project I tried the "Rajkumari" again. "Rajkumari" sort of translates as princess in Hindi. I found the Samarkan font online which is meant to resemble the Hindi script.

Here is a brief look at how to do this project.

Step one: Make sure baby is napping. Napping, by the way, is a new thing for us. She's been standing lately and I think that effort tires her out more so than usual. Dang! I love this napping thing! I can get stuff done!

Step two: Gather the supplies - freezer paper, paint, scissors, cutting mat, exacto knife, an item of clothing.

Don't forget to print your stencil onto the freezer paper. Print the stencil on the matte side, not on the waxed side. My printer jams up when I print the wrong way.

I have forgotten to print onto the freezer paper so many times. It's embarrasing how many times. I even get to the point of cutting and sit there dumbfounded as to why it is harder to cut.

Yep. I did it again for this week's project.

Step three: Secure the stencil to the cutting mat and start cutting away, carefully. If you look at the word you'll see that there are couple of "a"s in it. If this is the case for your word too, be sure to keep that little oval piece to complete the letter.

Step four: Iron on the stencil to the item of clothing. Iron on the freezer paper waxed side down. I have my iron fairly hot.

I iron on the big stencil first, then position the little ovals for the "a"s.

Step five: Paint! I did two coats, letting the first dry for about a half hour before adding the second. Then I let it completely dry over night.

Step six (the last step, the fun step!): Peel off the freezer paper.

I really love the positioning of this particular stencil. It's right over her chubby belly!

I love stenciling clothes for the Baby Lotus Bud! I can make stylish, personalized clothes for her without spending too much money. She looks so cute!

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Monday, February 14, 2011

7 - Out for a Stroll

I first caught sight of these five turkeys in October when they decided to hang out in front of my house - our very own set of turkeys in the hood. These turkeys were hatched at a neighborhood park just 4 blocks from my home. I know this because the local paper has been following their progress and writing about them on occasion.

On Saturday I went to the local knit shop (Crafty Planet is wonderfully just two blocks from my home) and found these turkeys were also interested in some window shopping.

The males have such pretty colors.

I have a thing for wild turkeys, especially the ones I see out in the woods near our Airstream retreat. The thing that I have for them is derived from the fact that the sight of wild turkeys make me hungry. I don't know why. I've never really had an urge to hunt any sort of animal unless you would consider fishing in this category.

But I assure you my carnivorous urge does not apply to those turkeys strolling through my neighborhood.

There's just no way I could eat one my neighbors!

Take a stroll around the world at Communal Global!
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Iron Craft: The Winter Contest

I am having a crazy week! I am planning and preparing for a birthday party. I have the house to clean. I have to write a letter I have to the Baby Lotus Bud. I have cranes to fold and hang. BUT, I just couldn't take a break from Iron Craft. I'm hooked and addicted!

This Week's challenge is a contest - The Winter Contest. The fact that it is a contest got me all charged up and so I sit here blogging when I should be sweeping and wiping dust.

Despite my excitement, I was sort of at a loss about what to do. I couldn't do the fire and ice candle again which is (for me) the ultimate winter craft. So I did a search on the Internet for winter craft ideas and settled upon creating a Winter Sun Catcher. I really wanted to do something outside so this seemed like the perfect project. Have you followed the link and looked at the photo? It's beautiful and elegant, isn't it?

Mine - not so much.

OK. So here's what I did. I filled ice cube trays with colored water, then when those froze, I put them into a cake pan to freeze together.

I had to go and buy a cake pan because I didn't have one. I picked one up at the thrift store for 99 cents. Fortunately I did have food coloring and a spare ice cube tray.

This last week was perfect for an outside project because the temps dipped down into the single digits. The project froze quickly, but maybe a little too quickly. You see, the colored ice cubes are supposed to melt a bit when you put them in the cake pan so that the colors blend together. But like I said, single digit temps freeze water quickly!

I also had figure out where to hang these to catch the sun. My usual spots to hang things like on the clothes line pole or the big elm tree in the backyard were pretty much inaccessible due to the 4 feet of snow blocking the way. The trellis I made out of broken branches was not strong enough to support the weight of the ice block and it was in a spot where it would not catch any sun. I settled on the front railing and really lucked out that I hung them right before the sun shone down.

OK, so not exactly how I pictured them to be, but I like them anyway. AND, I have something decorative for the guests as they arrive at the birthday party tomorrow.

I can't help thinking - Would glitter have made this project better?

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Monday, February 7, 2011

6 - The Bridge over the Rail Yard

Just near our house is a huge rail yard which I've been meaning to shoot for a while now. Every week I head over there because it has a fantastic view of Minneapolis. But every week I get distracted by a different view. Today was a gray day but that offered a great background for capturing the details of this towering elm tree. Thousands of elm trees added to the height of this city neighborhood. Unfortunately every few decades dutch elm disease hits the area and instead of inoculating the trees, the city chooses to chop them down.

I love looking at these trees in the winter. Can you see that the buds have popped? Spring is coming!
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Iron Craft: Be Mine

I admit I groaned when I first read about this week's challenge at Iron Craft. The challenge is to make a Valentine.

I shouldn't have moaned and groaned because Valentine's Day is my special day. The Big D and I were married on this day seventeen years ago. We decided to elope and chose the next big "holiday" for the date not realizing that we forever made it impossible to get dinner reservations on our Anniversary. Our "wedding" was at dingy, grimy courthouse and I was back in classes the next day. We decided that each Anniversary should be an adventure since we didn't have a honeymoon.

Last year I gave birth to the Baby Lotus Bud four days before our 16-year Anniversary (and, yes, that was quite an adventure). She was our sweet little Valentine. I kept thinking about this as I considered a project for this week's challenge.

Have you ever bought a how-to or reference book and thought perhaps it was a waste of money? That's what I thought about Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments. My first project out this book did not turn out the way I hoped so that's what got me down. But now I am super happy that I purchased it because I keep going back to it for new ideas and to learn new techniques.

I pulled a heart pattern from Epstein's book for this week's challenge and I just happen to have all the yarn I needed at home. My lunch plans for last Thursday were cancelled so I came home and started knitting up the heart not realizing that it would knit and finish rather quickly. In fact, so quick that I forgot to take some photos. But, I went back and cast on again just to give myself a visual reminder of how easy it was despite starting with anxious feelings about knitting with two balls of yarn.

Here's the finished Valentine heart. Now I had to figure out what I was going to do with it.

I decided to leave some yarn on it to I could tie it to the Baby Lotus Bud but she's moving around so much now I couldn't get a photo. My little Tasmanian devil! Capturing a photo of her is nearly impossible these days.

My sweet Valentine!

I made them both - the heart and the baby!

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