misfit monday: fiber fair, a video summary

Footage I shot at the Fiber Fair held at Young’s Jersey Dairy Farm on September 21, 2013. It’s an annual gathering of local fiber/yarn artisans and wool farmers. The public can come, buy just about anything related to yarn and wool, and learn about the process, including spinning yarn, the animals involved, and the process of creating finished pieces using these fibers. My favorite part was meeting the Pangora goats. They’re a crossbreed between Pigmy and Angora goats, so they’re small and soft.

I’m not an editor or color corrector by any means, but I guess this looks alright. And in case you’re wondering, it was shot using  Canon T4i, and edited using Adobe Premiere Pro and color corrected in Adobe After Effects.

Heidi shows up in it, and at one point I do too!! With a Llama.

Follow my Tumblr: juliethehummingbird.tumblr.com

Brought to you by Hummingbird Productions. (hey, that’s me!)

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misfit monday: my favorite art materials

I thought it’d be fun to share some of the traditional art materials I use and give a rundown on pros and cons for them. And also to work on my product photography skills.

Pencils:

I use graphic pencils for a lot of work. For my 13th birthday, a friend got me a set of Koh-I-Noor graphic pencils, and that opened up my eyes. I’d used charcoal before, but I don’t like charcoal. Not my thing. But pencils? Totally my thing.

art materials-7

Pros:

  • erasable
  • comes in varying hardness from about 10H (although I only have up to 5H) to about 10B (I have up to 8B)
  • keeps a point, versus charcoal that won’t keep a point well
  • easy to work with
  • inexpensive as compared to other mediums
  • sort of a gateway material–start with these, then eventually move on to other, more challenging materials
  • can be used anywhere and easily transportable
  • teaches the importance of contrast, light and shadow
  • easy to draw details and textures with
  • one of the least picky mediums when it comes to paper

Cons:

  • graphite smears over EVERYTHING
  • requires Fixatif spray to finish something and keep it from continuing to smear everywhere.
  • the softer pencils (like 2B-8B) get progressively harder to erase and will leave ghost lines no matter what. Once you put it down, it stays down.
  • inconsistency between 6B-7B causes 6B to be a dark and shiny coloration versus 7B and darker which take on  much more charcoal like consistency. They don’t blend together.

I actually prefer Staedtler graphic pencils, but I will use other brands if nothing else is available to me. And for paper, I usually use Strathmore paper, which is readily available most places.

Why do I prefer Staedtler? I just like the way they feel. Also because I tend to get a smooth and consistent line from them. Sometimes pencils will get those weird catches in the graphite, and I’ve never encountered that with Staedtler. They don’t break as easily as some of the others I’ve worked with.

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For working with pencils, you’ll want:

  • a kneedable eraser
  • a nice regular eraser (I use Staedler plastic erasers and LOVE them)
  • spray Fixatif (I use workable fixatif)
  • a good pencil sharpener

Color Pencils:

I started using color pencils when I was 12. Nice color pencils, I should say. I wanted Prismacolor pencils and have had the 48 set plus whatever I bought open stock. Prismas are wax based for the binder (what holds the pigment), which comes with it’s own set of complications versus the SUPER nice color pencils which are actually clay based (Caran D’Ache).

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Pros:

  • colors
  • very blendable, and easy to build up depending on pressure
  • working with graphic pencils first will make working with color pencils a lot easier
  • a mostly smooth look but still having texture
  • keep a point nicely
  • can be melted with turpenoid/turpentine like watercolor pencils and water.
  • not picky about paper
  • fairly transportable if you get a pencil case for them
  • don’t get all over your hands like graphic pencils do

Cons:

  • wax based ones like Prisma will build up a film over time that you can wipe off, but it’s annoying
  • they break a lot
  • not erasable
  • they don’t always have the smoothest texture and can get those weird catches in the lead

For working with color pencils that are wax based, like Prismas, you’ll want:

  • to always sketch out what you want to draw in just a regular pencil first, since you can’t erase color pencils
  • turpenoid/turpentine to melt them if you want, and some decent paint brushes to apply it with
  • spray Fixatif once you’re done. You don’t need it, but it does help prevent the colors from rubbing off on other things over time

Watercolors:

I used to hate watercolor paints, because I’ve always been terrible with them. But then my sister introduced me to Dr. Ph. Martin liquid watercolors, which is what I’m going to talk about specifically.

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Pros:

  • bright, intense colors
  • can be dried out and reconstituted (although not all colors reconstitute well)
  • act more link inks than watercolors, adding a lot of permanence to the color so layering them is much easier
  • beautiful, consistent coloration
  • mixes of color will striate to create cool effects
  • salt creates a different kind of texture with these paints because they soak into the paper at different rates
  • a much faster medium to work with than any kind of pencil or charcoal, though they do require adequate drying time
  • smooth, silky coloration
  • color pencil, pastels, and inks can easily be layered on top of them
  • transparent color, so anything on the paper underneath will show through
  • you can easily use only 3 brushes (or even 2), cutting down on costs. A wash brush, and a detail brush.
  • easy to clean up afterwards

Cons:

  • intensely picky about paper (I use Fluid watercolor block and LOVE it.)
  • act more like inks than watercolors, adding a lot of permanence, thus you only get one shot at getting it right. Water will not pick all the colors back off the paper, even when you’ve just put it down. Though some will come up, especially blues.
  • colors don’t soak into the paper at the same rate, causing striation that you may not want
  • humid weather makes working with any kind of watercolor a pain in the butt and can double or triple drying times.
  • Dr. Ph. Martin watercolors aren’t super portable, although you can take them places if you’ll have a table and water.
  • expensive (although in the grand scheme of how much nice inks or watercolors cost, these are actually inexpensive especially considering the quality).
  • finicky to work with. Takes a lot of practice.
  • requires sable brushes. No other kind will work with watercolors well.
  • water warps paper, so you have to stretch it first with a water wash.
  • they come in glass bottles. I’ve never broken one because I’m super careful with them, but they are breakable. (The other day when at Blick, I was looking at them and one fell out of the shelving it was in and I was so terrified it was going to break, but I was lucky in that it landed on the rubber stopper top and sort of bounced and fell over.)

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Things you’ll want when working with Dr. Ph. Martin liquid watercolors:

  • cold pressed watercolor block (a block lays flat so painting is easier and you don’t have to stretch the paper first) (I use Fluid, pictured above, and both my older sister and I prefer it over any other kind of watercolor paper)
  • paper towels
  • clean water
  • sable brushes (can be synthetic sable, but they must be sable brushes) (I have only 3 I use, pictured above)
  • a paint palette
  • patience

If you want to know more about watercolors, Becca Hillburn uses them all the time and you should be able to find reviews on different water colors other than the Dr. Ph. Martin ones that I use on her site.

Oil paints:

My favorite medium, and it has been since the first time I touched them at 16. While I don’t work with them nearly as often as I’d like simply because of the time and money they require as compared to any of the other mediums I’ve mentioned, they always come first in my heart when it comes to materials.

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Working with oil paints is extremely different for every artist, as every artist picks a different way to use them. This means it’s kind of hard to give a rundown on them, but I’ll talk about my experience with them.

Pros:

  • long drying time, meaning you can leave something and come back hours later and still be able to work on it. This also makes blending 100x easier than with acrylics. (as this is listed as a pro, it should be easy to figure out why I hate acrylics, which have a rapid drying time.)
  • thick texture, or alternately thin, depending on mixture with turpenoid/turpentine.
  • not as picky with brushes as watercolors, although still kind of picky. You don’t want super soft brushes, but neither do you want super bristley ones.
  • not water soluble, so getting wet won’t hurt them.
  • they feel like heaven to paint with.
  • a very forgiving medium
  • not picky about the surface. You can paint on board, canvas, lots of things.
  • can cover large areas very quickly
  • blendability.

Cons:

  • painting thin over thick causes cracking. (whoops…..)
  • EXPENSIVE.
  • they smell. also, don’t decide you like a guy after the both of you have been painting for 12 hours straight without the greatest ventilation.
  • they take a long time to cure.
  • some colors are translucent and some are opaque. you have to keep track of this. Permanent Azalean Crimson won’t show up on black very well because of this.
  • again, expensive.
  • they will get everywhere. Don’t eat while painting. You will know the moment you’ve ingested paint because it will make your sandwich taste horrible. Although, if you’ve only gotten some paint that was on your hands onto your food, you’ll survive just fine. They’ll also stain your clothes, so wear a paint apron.
  • not portable.

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Personally, I use Windsor-Newton (Winton) paints. They’re one of the big brands, and I’ve used a few other brands because people have gifted me those paints, but I personally will only buy Winton paints and use those if I have a choice. What you need varies for how you use them, but here are some basics:

  • paint palette and foil (to cover the surface for easy cleanup and also so you don’t stain everything) (also to cover the paint when you’re not using it)
  • medium hardness brushes
  • turpenoid (the stuff I use is pictured below)
  • a jar where you can put turpenoid and clean your brushes in
  • dish soap to clean your brushes afterwards (Dawn works best, I’ve found)
  • paper towels
  • palette knife
  • painting apron
  • easels are nice

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So there you have it. Those are the things I work with most often, aside from now I use Photoshop a ton. But traditional mediums will always be my thing. And oil paints will always be first in my heart when it comes to art stuff.

misfit monday: the woman who changed my life

In honor of the announcement that JK Rowling will be writing a new film series taking place within her magical world, I thought I should write about how much Harry Potter changed my life.

Except I don’t actually know how it changed my life because I was in 5th grade, nearly 11 years old, when I picked up the first book, and very soon after finished off the 2nd and 3rd books. When you’re that young, something doesn’t change your life so much as it becomes a formative part of your life. The Harry Potter series was that for me. However, there are a few ways that I can point out that it changed things for me.

friends at I at the Chinese theater, being the golden trio.

friends at I at the Chinese theater, being the golden trio.

1. Through the characters of Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood.

When the books first came out, I was nicknamed Hermione because people thought of me as her. Saw me as her. I corrected other kids, even in front of teachers, I was a smartalec and a know-it-all. I also had brown hair and brown eyes. I was made fun of and had a hard time keeping friends. But once people saw me as Hermione, it changed. A little.

Later on, with the development of Ginny and the introduction of Luna, it became clear to me that I possessed qualities of all three, and each quality I had in common with them was one I was able to accept in myself. I wanted to be smart, but I also dreamed of being pretty, like Hermione. I was odd, obscure, and artsy like Luna, and people accepted that part of me when they realized I was actually good at art. It was the part of me that didn’t care what other people thought because I just wanted to do art and be good at it. And there was the sporty, competitive side of me like Ginny, who always felt like she had something to prove because she was just a girl, or just Ron’s little sister, and the guy who she liked pretty much ignored her. She could command a lot of authority, and she was incredibly capable. I think, though, that I always envied her one particular thing: she was indeed beautiful and a lot of guys noticed her. My best friends in high school were the ones who got noticed. I was the one they could count on to never have a date.

2. Through making me love reading.

I was not a reader as a child. So when I found books I wanted to read, books that I didn’t want to put down, it changed everything for me. I still haven’t found books that grab hold of me like the Harry Potter books do, but I developed a love for reading and the written word from that moment on.

Odd story: when I was 11, reading the books for the first time, I wanted to be like Harry Potter so much that I cleared out a cupboard under a sink, crawled in there with the book and a flashlight, and stayed crammed in there for hours reading, pretending that I was like Harry living in the cupboard under the stairs.

As a teenager who struggled with depression, reading was my escape. I got in trouble on numerous occasions from when I was 13 all the way through when I was 17 for reading in class. The best part was that the teachers would call me on to answer the question, and I KNEW THE ANSWER. They had intended to catch me unaware and to make an example of me in front of the entire class, but when I knew the answer and could go into detail about it, as well as telling them exactly what I’d been reading, it left them fuming. My mom fielded a few angry emails and calls from teachers about this.

I’m not a huge reader, although this year has been a little different for me, and I’ve read around 25 books since late January.

3. Through giving me a world in which I felt I belonged.

Again, this goes back to Hermione. I didn’t fit in well as a child, but at Hogwarts, I always felt like I belonged. I was smart, I was brave and fearless, I felt absolutely sure I was a Gryffindor. I identified with Hermione in a way I’ve never identified with any character. But also, the books gave me friends. Harry, Ron, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and Hermione were all my friends. I laughed at all of Fred and George’s jokes and pranks, snuck around with Harry at night, and faced the tough times in life with all of them too. With a common last name, I easily fit into one of the better known wizarding families (it was a huge joke with all my friends that Sirius Black was my dad). I finally had names of nemesis I could hate (Crabbe, Goyle, Voldermort…. not Draco though, because I had a major soft spot for that little prat) rather than feeling like I was just bullied by a large group, not anyone in particular. (I was bullied a lot in middle school and standing up for myself didn’t do much. I was bullied some in high school, but standing up for myself did a lot more then, mostly because by the time I was a junior, I just didn’t care and the teachers didn’t care if I punched someone after repeatedly telling them to stop harassing me.)

wizard dad

what you don’t know is that I’m wearing a shirt I sewed that matches one Hermione wears in DH1. Pictured here with my wizarding dad.

The characters were more than characters for me. They were my friends, my enemies, my mentors, my allies, my teachers, my family. Some of the times I have cried the hardest have been in the deaths in these books, because it wasn’t a character dying, it was someone I knew and loved. They were as much a part of my life as any real person, and sometimes more.

4. Causing me to learn unusual skills.

I learned to knit because of Harry Potter. I couldn’t afford to buy an official Gryffindor, so I asked my grandma to teach me to knit so I could knit my own. It took a few years before I eventually got around to it, and I think I might knit a new one sometime. But what 14-year-old learns how to knit for fun? Uh, apparently this one. People in my family know to expect at least one person to get a hand-knit something for christmas almost every year.

knitting

an in-progress shot of a hat Hermione wore in HBP. I love that hat.

This kind of makes me more like Hermione again, because she learns to knit to free house elves and actually it’s pretty cute.

5. Through teaching me a thousand things I don’t know if I can ever verbalize or recount.

I grew up reading these books. How could I say what I learned from them and how I changed because of them when they were a fundamental part of my formation as a person? But it’s a thousand lessons I learned from these seven books that play into every single day of my life. Harry’s sarcastic responses to things, Hermione’s dichotomy of intellect and emotion fully fitting into one person, how things aren’t always as they seem (pretty much from every book), how one letter can change your life forever, how there is magic in everything. How words are our most inexhaustible source of magic. How love touches us even after death, and how the ones we love never really leave us.

I often feel that I am some strange mix of Hermione, Ginny, and Luna wrapped up into one person. I don’t think I would have ever been able to accept myself and all the oddities of me without JK’s characters, and being able to say, yes, they are the way they are, and they are all parts of me, as I am all parts of them. And it’s okay.

until the very end

in what Hermione wears for the final battle, fake blood and all

On a side note, I’ve dressed up as Hermione at least 6 times. Twice for midnight showings.

I am a proud part of the Harry Potter generation, and Hogwarts will always be home.

misfit monday: mortal instrument madness

As a huge fan of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, I was incredibly excited for the film adaptation. I did a digital painting of Clary from one of trailers, and then I decided to start in on another one in hopes of completing it before the release of the film. Life kind of got in the way and a long series of complicated and traumatic events delayed finishing it until recently.

I thought that you might enjoy seeing a progression of the piece and hearing some talk about my process.

Clary2 WIP 1-1

Clary2 WIP 2-1First of all, I set up a grid and then worked on getting a really clean outline. This is one of the most important parts. From there, I set up a few more layers, did a background gradient, added red bits that I’d eventually have show through, and then began a color layer on top of that, which you can see a few pieces of here. I started filling in her skin and smoothing it out bit by bit. The colors didn’t look quite right so I started veering towards a more lavender skin tone.

Clary2 WIP 4-1

Clary2 WIP 6-1

I eventually went though and changed almost all of the skin tones, erasing a lot and starting over. This looked better, and was an important lesson in color and light and the relation between light color changing skin color and what we perceive to be right being not at all what we’d think. A lot of her skintones are lavenders. Not at all what I’d expected to use. I started working on her hair, and by this point, using blues and purples instead of browns and reds didn’t surprise me at all.

Continuing on with the skin, I kept having to change to bluer and bluer tones.

Clary2 WIP 7-1

Clary2 WIP 9-1

I spent a ton of time working on trying to get her mouth right, and at this point I was annoyed enough that I moved on to working on more in the background and then her hair and jacket. A ton of purples, but it was reading right, and that was the important part. Kept working on her hair. Some of the reds I initially expected to use were slightly used here. Went back to working on her face and added her eyebrows and tweaked her mouth.

Clary2 WIP 10-1

I got annoyed and didn’t want to work on Clary for a while, so I went and worked in the background and the light grid. This is normal, where I get annoyed with one part of the drawing so I have to work on another.

Clary2 WIP 12-1

Clary2 WIP 13-1

I finished up her hair, then went back to working on the background, and at this point I’ve finished the entire background, although I haven’t finished the light grid or her eyes. I kept putting off her eyes because my reference photo was small and blurry and her eyes were completely lacking any kind of detail.

I spent hours working on those eyes, tweaking them, repainting them because they weren’t right, tweaking more, then tweaking more, then repainting then tweaking another few times before I was finally satisfied enough. I also spent more time tweaking her mouth. Every artist has a perfectionist inside screaming at them when things aren’t right, and sometimes we’ve stared at the image for so long we know it’s wrong, but we can’t see why. It takes stepping away or getting another set of eyes to explain it. Mt sister did some of that when I was working on the eyes.

So overall I learned a lot about color and perception. The individual colors, if I saw only those, wouldn’t look right, but within the environment and with the lighting as it is and all the other things within the frame lining up with that, it looks right. I’ve continued using what I’ve learned thus far with digital paintings, especially with making skin have texture and definition in the light areas, not so much in the dark. I constantly have a hand hovering over the keyboard to either press ALT for color pickup to help blend (I don’t use a blending tool) or Command Z, which is the oh shoot I didn’t want to do that, and often Command S so I can save everything I’ve done in case photoshop crashes. It’s only done that a few times, but saving often is major, even if I have autosave set up on small intervals.

Stay tuned for the final version! I finished it, but it’ll get its own post.

misfit monday: what a weekend

Sometimes I do exciting things, like appear on national daytime tv. Other times, I do slightly less exciting things like sit around applying for jobs and sewing while watching old tv shows.

True story. No really, the tv thing? It happened. Not an extra. As in front and center speaking role. For 20 minutes. I was trying not to freak out or cry. Although the crying part would have worked with the acting.

I have the most random life, and a lot of the stories I tell probably sound like they can’t have all happened to the same person. That either means I tell great stories about kleptomaniac ex-roommates and psychotic pregnant homeless people, or ….. maybe I kind of got the leftovers on other people’s lives. That sounds weird. Imagine you’re at a restaurant and you have four people, but between them, they only order 3 dishes. Three of these people only eat one particular thing each. Say, one eats fish, another eats chicken, and the other eats beef. But these three people get full and there’s still a little of each dish left over, all of which gets passed on to person 4. So person 4 doesn’t have a whole meal of any kind, just these jumbled bits of leftovers. I kind of feel like that’s my life. Jumbled bits of leftovers. On a psychological level, this kind of explains some stuff about me. I’m watching everyone else with whole lives, and I’m sitting here with scraps and tidbits wondering why I didn’t get a whole life, why everyone else is so much more special than me. On the outside looking in. This is my life.

Okay, well, that was depressing. Let’s move on. (I really wish you would all read this in Xander Harris’ voice. It makes it sound much more fun.)

A theater near me (actually the closest movie theater) has $5 wednesdays, so I went and saw a late night movie. By myself. Because I don’t have friends. This is my life. Well, I saw Pitch Perfect because I thought it looked funny. Anna Kendrick is beautiful and talented. On a deeper note that probably very few people in the theater would have picked up on, it touched on a psychological thing that I understand. The whole shutting people out because it’s easier. Because deep down you just don’t want to let anyone hurt you, and you just sort of expect that they will. There was a fitting tribute to The Breakfast Club in there, and I love that movie.


The last bit of that trailer… add that to the list of things I want to say.

Worked on sewing some other things now that my coat is done. I have this pattern for some 1940’s clothes, and I had enough fabric left over from an old project to work with, and that became the shirt. Now to start in on a pair of high waist grey pants. Three pieces. Pretty straight forward. Except the zipper part. Zippers are my downfall. Also, I had to sharpen a pair of scissors, and it was all going fine until I sharpened them right into my finger. Painful and just deep enough for it to bleed rather well.

Saturday was a big day.

First, I auditioned for a tv pilot being shot here. Don’t know where it’s going or anything like that, but hey whatever, I auditioned. Am I likely to get a part? Well normally I would have said no, but they happened to really like me. They said I had a lot of talent and I should really try to get into the acting thing more. First time I’ve heard that. I should hear about callbacks in a week.

Second, my little brother had a marching band competition at The Ohio State University. In the horseshoe. That was cool. Like really cool. But, I don’t understand the old-school marching band thing, with the drum major who is a baton twirler, the lack of color guard, the whole high-stepping thing…. makes no sense to me. The southwest area of Ohio is all about competition marching bands, versus I guess Cleveland is stuck in the “we’re here to put on a halftime show for the football team” thing. Ew. Add that to the list of reasons I will never go close to that town. Anyway, my alma matter did great. They’ve made massive improvements to the show since I last saw it, added more visuals, the guard (which has 3 vets and the rest are rookies) has made huge strides. They should have placed 2nd behind Lakota West (who incidentally have an awesome show featuring music by Edward Elgar and my all-time favorite Dmitri Shostakovich).

I’m employed! Finally. It’s at a department store as seasonal, but that’s a start, right? Better underemployed than unemployed. I have orientation this thursday, and I’m a little nervous for everything, but I always get that way. Last night I had this weird dream that my grandma came over and was asking me all sorts of questions about my new job that I didn’t have answers to and then when I woke up she was actually here. O_o

Oh, and thursday night I watched the VP debate. It was at Center College in Kentucky. And then I realized that I’d performed on the same stage they had the debate on. Woah. A couple years ago, Asbury, Center, Translyvania and maybe one more I don’t remember, performed the full Brahms Requiem at Transy and Center (that’s like an hour straight of singing). And…. yeah. Won’t go into politics. Oh, but Paul Ryan looks like the guy who plays Will Schuster on Glee. Anyone else notice that?

Here’s part of the Requiem. My favorite part.

Ooooh…. secret talent reveal time: the first time I ever joined a choir was in university. In the best choir there. I’m a mezzo-soprano who sings alto 1. What you don’t know is that I’m actually a French Horn player.

This video shows the sopranos and tenors mostly, with the altos and basses on the same side as the camera. So you can’t actually see me, but yes I’m there. In Gloucester Cathedral (they filmed chunks of Harry Potter there). In England.

I told you I had a random life.

misfit monday: when a find meets a design

I was in JoAnn’s the other day buying additional fabric for the back of my quilt, I browsed the fabric section and found this amazing blue wool and this gorgeous gold-orange lining. UH, PERFECT. For what? This!!

I have a pattern that is fairly close to this, and in order to not chance things with a rather expensive wool (though it was 50% off thanks to an awesome coupon) I’m going to stick to the pattern. The fabric is 100% wool, and as close to Tardis blue as I’ve ever been able to find. I mean, I knew it was perfect the moment I saw it, and I’ve been eying this other potential fabric from Mood that I thought was close. Here’s the wool and lining. (the photo makes them just a hint lighter than reality) Perfect perfect perfect!!

I do plan, however, to paint some hexagonal patterns inside on the lining. It’s like a little secret. You have no idea how much I love those little secrets in fashion, those little details that take time to notice but then you’re like that’s just genius.

Now, the pattern is weird and calculates yardage in the oddest way imaginable, so what my mom and I did was to get 2 yards of 60″ wool (it was actually 57″ because I think it was preshrunk… you have to shrink wool before working with it, and you can just hover an iron about n inch above it and steam it. When I did this, the fabric stayed the same, so I think it was already shrunken.) and then we had to redo the layout of pattern pieces. I’m the one with great spacial relations, but my mom’s the one who knows the sewing thing, so I needed her help to make sure that I wasn’t placing the pieces the wrong way. If you notice, every pattern piece has an arrow on it, and every arrow has to go the same way–vertical. Some of the open spaces you see are because I have to cut 2 of one of the smaller pieces so I’ve left space for that.

That is all to say, if you want to make it, now you know. I’ll do a full debrief on the pattern and sewing after I’ve completed it.

I found one of those circle cutter things, and suddenly I know why designers and people who do a lot of sewing use those. So much faster, and straight, clean lines. Awesome.

I’m really excited to make this!

Thing 2: The front of my quilt is done!! I’ve worked on and off on this for a while now, from cutting up tshirts back in… late june–not sure–to finally getting around to sewing the thing a few weeks back. Now I have to add the edging and sew it onto the back and then put the batting in it and then my grandma offered to take me to this shop she knows around here that machine quilts things.

It’s not perfectly rectangular. One side is a little longer than the other. Oops. But for my first quilt, and making everything up as I went with no real idea of what I was doing, I’d say that this is pretty good. Plus it looks cool.

Thing 3: I’m not 100% happy with the sketchbook I made, but I bet if I made another one it’d be perfect. You live and you learn. I’m about 95% happy with it. That’s pretty good.

Thing 4: Here’s a drawing I did in about 20ish minutes yesterday of my little brother while in church. He was rather thrilled that I was drawing him, and every once in a while would move so he could look at it, then return to his original position so I could keep going. It looks exactly like him.

That is all.

misfit monday: mountains

Over the weekend I went on a camping trip with a friend from Asbury and two friends we had met out in LA while those three were out there for school. We were in the Smokey Mountains, so I was glad to have mountains again, but it was a little sad that these weren’t my mountains. I miss LA and SoCal.

Anyway, it was fun, and saturday we went hiking on a rather well known trail up to the Chimney Tops, the last bit of which is rock climbing up to the top. It’s a 2 mile hike each way, and the trail label says “strenuous.” Yes, I’d say so.

Now, the other threes love love love taking photos. I love taking photos, but at the same time, I’m much more into being in the moment. So I don’t have tons of photos, but here are some of the best ones.

 

Thing two: The Olympics. What a cool opening ceremony. For sure. Also, I’m minorly in love with Ryan Lochte. Oddly enough, his voice and speech pattern is really similar to a friend of mine who is working at the London Olympics right now. Possibly at the swimming venue. Anyway, he’s really cute when he smiles. His whole face lights up and he has those awesome smile lines around his eyes, two of which I find really attractive, if you remember that blog post.

That is all.

tragic tuesday: in memory of a most beloved

Misfit Monday? Nope. This week it’s Tragic Tuesday.

It may be a while before I start posting particularly upbeat blogs again. Although, I will share the one bit of good news I have: Aiden is alive. Aside from one broken key (found where to buy replacements) and an A key that is a bit temperamental, all is well with him. So this isn’t in memory of my 4-year-old laptop.

It’s in memory of my baby. Sunny, my 12-year-old golden retriever, who was basically a rescue dog when she was 6 months old. I’ll tell you her story, if you care to listen.

It starts with Sam. Sam was probably the most energetic, play-driven dog ever. He was hyper. Really hyper. And we didn’t know what to do for him. My parents got the idea that maybe we should get a puppy for him, a playmate. So we started looking, and my mom found an add in the newspaper for a 6-month-old golden retriever puppy that needed a new home. So we took Sam with us to make sure they’d get along, first of all.

The moment they met, they were instant friends. Love at first sight, no exaggeration. The family had been trying to take care of her, but with what had been going on, she had basically been suffering from neglect. So we took her home that night, and day after day at our house we watched her become happier and live up to her name: Sunny.

Sam and Sunny were the perfect match. For three years they were absolutely inseparable. And then Sam died very suddenly of what was basically canine sars. The best vets in the state did an autopsy because they wanted to know what killed him and even then it was inconclusive.

Sunny was heartbroken. I thought it was going to be like Where The Red Fern Grows, where Little Ann dies of loneliness and heartbreak after Old Dan is killed by the Mountain Lion. Sunny’s face started turning grey, and she wasn’t even 4 years old.

We knew at that point that Sunny needed a friend. So we contacted a breeder we had met when I took Sunny to the state fair in dog obedience for 4H. They also had a female golden named Sunny. My Sunny knew all the obedience stuff, she just didn’t want to do it because she wanted to be with people and make new friends instead. Turns out they had a litter of puppies recently, and we claimed a little boy. When we brought him home, Sunny was like wtf is this little thing? Why does it keep following me? It took her about a week to figure out that it was a puppy, and that she could play with it. He wasn’t Sam, but he would suffice.

The two remained together, and although Sunny wasn’t as attached to Skittles as she was to Sam, or as much as Skittles was to her, she returned to her regular, overly happy Sunny state of being. Sunny had various health problems over the years, including a torn ACL which she had surgery on, to another torn ACL which eventually healed up on it’s own (she couldn’t have surgery on this one because of another health problem).

And then late last fall she was diagnosed with kidney disease, which would claim her life over the course of a few months. We kept her medicated and well cared for much longer than could be hoped for, nearly 8 months. She had off days, and last thursday we thought it was just another off day, but as the hours went by, we began to wonder if it was more than that. Friday she was possibly worse, and we rushed her off to the vet. I has to carry her to the car and into the vet because she was too weak to move more than her head and her tail. The vet ran some quick x-rays, and what he suspected based on what we had told him was backed up, although the x-rays weren’t absolutely conclusive. Sunny had a specific kind of tumor that had grown off her spleen and it had ruptured, causing major internal bleeding. Even on  young healthy dog, one of these tumors was absolutely fatal. My dad called my mom at work, and the vet explained what was going on, and she said she’d leave work and come in. By the state Sunny was in, I was worried my mom wouldn’t get there in time. But she did, and we spent the next hour saying our goodbyes. A minute before the vets took her into the back to put her to sleep, she gave my mom and I the most hearty tail wag she possibly could, and I’m fairly sure she used the last of her strength to do it, to tell us she loved us one last time.

I’ve never been part of the choice on whether or not to put an animal down before. I’ve never gotten to say goodbye either. With Sunny, I watched her weaken within the three hours we were at the vet, to the point where I knew she had hours left at best. My mom gave me the option to take her back home, but I didn’t even know if she’d live long enough for us to get her home. It was her time. So we said our goodbyes, and told each other I love you.

She’s with Sam again, her soulmate. Running around, playing, like they used to do when I’d take them to a park near here and let them off leash. Her tail is going in circles, because that’s what it does when she gallops along. There are plenty of stuffed animals for her to tote around (we called them her dead ducks), and they all smell like me because the more one smelled like me, the more she loved it. There are plenty of friendly strangers for her to just go up and greet. And there will be mischief to be had, especially with teasing Sam. What may be decades for me will be the blink of an eye for her, when I see her again.