Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where have I been? - in which I share rambling book and film reviews, a Fall Scarf project, and bizarre anxiety dream

Well, Fall is here - sort of. The weather still can't decide. But school started and I've got a Senior this year (Teen Wonder) as well as a 2nd grader Wild Thing. So things are uber busy. What better time to go off to Berlin for a conference? kidding - it's a TERRIBLE time to go away for a week. I was at the International Papillomavirus Meeting, which is always interesting for me and I get to see a lot of colleagues from around the world that I only see once a year or less. But it is a long trip every time I go to Europe (meaning far), and jet lag gets harder and harder on my body.

I haven't had a lot of time to do anything crafty. Though I have read a couple of novels with all the plane time. I finally read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, and started the next one "The Girl Who Played With Fire". I am totally into these, and only the most severe exhaustion allows me to go to sleep instead of staying up to read them - which confirms my general level of energy in the last three or four weeks.  I also read "Up in the Air" last week (as I hadn't bought the second Girl book yet) - the book that inspired the movie with George Clooney. I say "inspired" because the book was quite different - and it was a little disorienting to try and get into the book with the expectation that it would resemble the movie. I loved the movie (as did most others who saw it).  The book is written entirely from an inner monologue point of view, and the character is more complex than the movie quite captures. And more depressed - think Holden Caulfield. I didn't get the satirical humor feeling in the book that I had in the movie, it made me more sad - and also perhaps because I know so many more people in real life who've been downsized since that movie came out in 2009.  Anyway, my mom enjoyed the book more than me, I think, and she didn't see the movie (yet), so there is my very scientific reasoning for how seeing a movie first is usually a bad idea if you plan to read the novel.  Though I did also watch the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" on Netflix, and found it to be pretty well done.  Another movie I saw recently that was a fairly close and accurate adaptation of the book was "Winter's Bone" - this is a very depressing story if you are not in the right mindset for it. But excellent - highly recommend!

Okay, enough of the books and films I've entertained myself with recently (oh, forgot to mention Super 8 which I just watched on the plane - that was good Stephen Spielberg fun!)

The one and only project I undertook in the past 3 weeks was a quick fall scarf project. I'm not sure what I had originally intended but I had 1/4 yard each of a crushed velvet and a Anna Marie Horner voile in my project pile. Seemed like it would be a pretty straightforward project to cut them in half lengthwise, stitch together each piece and then sew them together to make a simple scarf.  But I had to rip out most of the first try at stitching together and try again because the 2 fabrics were very hard for me to feed consistently and get an even seam. I've had this problem before. This seems to be something where an experienced sewist could help me out - or I could do a google search to see what's been shared on the topic online.  Anyway, I didn't have time even to take decent photos with my new camera - these are just from my iPod camera (or maybe it was my blackberry...) So forgive the poor quality and the messy hair!

This photo is not flattering, but it is probably an accurate version of me after a long day trying to fit it a few minutes to photograph a project I whipped out in a (relative) hurry. Anyway, you can see how long it is - but I  wore it in Berlin (with a nice blouse, brushed hair, and makeup) and even had a compliment or two so it is serving it's purpose.

 The scarf turned out way longer than I would have made if I'd given it much thought.  In fact I may have meant originally to go for a short wide one, but I don't think the 42" WOF would have been long enough to wrap around sufficiently.

Mr. Wonderful says I look more rested today. But I had one of the most bizarre and unsettling anxiety dreams last night that involved blowing a Final exam in some sort of writing class (playwriting?) - I was supposed to write a short play, cast it, and perform it...but I missed half the instructions, ran out of paper and spent most of the writing time scrambling around begging for scraps of paper.  Eventually, on little scraps of paper with a stubby pencil I wrote something that turned out to be completely off-base (due to missing instructions), and I had to fake my way out of sharing with the class while I tried to rewrite something.  I totally messed up the casting since the play was so off-base (like mine was a musical comedy instead of a serious drama), and it was like Project Runway where we were competing for the best actors (models for PR) so I was completely screwed and decided I'd perform on my own (seems like about as good an idea as representing yourself in court rather than getting a lawyer!)  I'm not even sure how the story turned out after trying to get the instructor's attention unsuccessfully to beg for mercy so I'd have time to figure something out.

Because I finally, mercifully, woke up.

Linky alert! Check out some weekly Whoop Whoop projects over here!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three day weekend finish - the Baguette Clutch!

Did I mention how much I love my new camera?  I have hardly used it yet, but tonight I looked at the clutch I finished yesterday and thought to myself, "self! do you think your new camera can handle nighttime shots of a project without that yellow blurry look?"

Yes it can!

I don't have a lot of time, and I was pretty pleased with the on-board white balance adjustment and the manual exposure I got right off the card. But for that last shot I opened it in Photoshop Elements and just did a tiny bit of futzing around to see how I could start thinking about making the images even better. A little more contrast and such and the yellow on this Amy Butler print really pops out so much more.

Oh, the clutch itself was made from a kit that I ordered from u-handbag - the Baguette Clutch. Everything was included in the kit except thread and glue - and I bought the glue from Lisa's shop too.  If you don't know  u-handbag, the blog, and Lisa Lam, well you are missing out! I have referred to her tutorials several times and have been intending to use some of her tutorials, especially the For Pleats Sake handbag.  I also ordered her book "The Bag Making Bible" - but I haven't gotten it yet...

I saw a giveaway for one of these kits, but of course didn't win (wait, did I remember to enter? oh well...) Anyway, I've wanted to try a framed coin-purse sort of project, so I thought I'd order a kit from the guru to cut my teeth. The pattern and instructions were very clear, down to the waiting for the glue to dry awhile before sticking the bag to the frame ("make yourself a cuppa" while you wait!). I have one more kit - the easier looking one of course, and also another frame to try making my own pattern (Lisa has instructions somewhere on her blog how to do this too).

Go check it out!  The one and only drawback is the exchange rate to UK sterling, making it a little more expensive for US customers than maybe you could find for something similar on etsy. But I guarantee you won't find a better DIY kit/package and more freely shared knowledge on how to turn out a practically perfect bag first try anywhere else. That made it worth the exchange rate markup - every penny!

(another totally impractical evening bag? guess Mr. Wonderful better start cranking out some elegant date nights!)

Linked up over as Sew Much Ado:

Friday, September 2, 2011

My new toy!!

I got the most splendid birthday present and I am so excited! Years and years ago I used to take a lot of photos on film and I used a Pentax K1000, the VW Bug of film SLRs.  I loved that camera and it loved me. It traveled to different continents with me and in the jungle and savannas and cities afar. I have carousels of slides that I took with it and a couple of nice lenses.

Then I started using a point and shoot Elph with that new fancy cartridge film (what is that called?), and then moved to a couple of different digital cameras that have been okay. But I just don't take good photos with them for whatever reason.  And I think that having a slightly larger camera means I remember to take it with me (but we will test that theory now).

So, I've thought about a digital SLR for a little while now. I didn't know what to get - Canon or Nikon?  Well, there is a Pentax option that gets great reviews AND that I can use my old 50mm 1:2 lens with the K mount with. And other old Pentax lenses that may not be too expensive nowadays but would be fun to try (my dad apparently has a collection so I asked him to go through and see if there was anything interesting. I'm pretty sure he has a nice wide angle lens...)

I asked for the Pentax K-r for my birthday - and now I have one!  And I've learned that I have forgotten most of what I once knew about taking photos (which wasn't a huge amount to begin with), and digital introduces new concepts. But I have been playing a little with it, just around the house so far...I'm trying the manual mode rather than preset auto modes (of which there are several).

Cody in a semi-dark bedroom

close shot of my birthday bouquet
this is the same shot, cropped to show more detail...
And even more cropping - the image maintains nice detail even sized for the web at 60% quality.
a new shot at my little corded handbag...compared with the original shot below (which I took with a point and shoot Lumix) The first one was doctored up a bit in Photoshop Elements to get the colors right. I didn't do any editing at all with any of these photos. I used the white adjustment right on the camera before shooting.


A couple of different versions of the same shot of our front door from the couch - it will be fun to play with the composition of photos with different settings.

So much fun!!  Thank you to Mr. Wonderful, Teen Wonder, and Wild Thing!! I just asked for one present this year so they all pitched in (especially Mr. Wonderful). xoxoxoxo

I need a camera case for my new baby - if anyone knows of a great pattern for making one please let me know. I'm thinking I could adapt a diaper bag or box pouch pattern or combine elements somehow...

(linked to Sarah's Whoop Whoop! because I actually did get a new post in on a Friday)