Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Embroidered dimensional brooches

Since I stopped selling at craft markets, I have felt unburdened by customers' preferences and what the market wants. Making stuff for fun was my motto this year. Being felled by my tennis elbow was but a small obstacle. I discovered that if I used a short thread and a small scissors, I could still use my right hand. I can't use the big scissors to cut fabric with my right hand at the moment. But I am optimistic.

These are 3 brooches I made a short while ago. I usually start with the embroidery and for whatever reason, my embroidery always ends up as a brooch. These 3 brooches have one thing in common. Can you tell what it is? Yes, the theme is dimensional. I've always liked the idea of embroidery coming out of the fabric.

open base picot

This is the first one I started with. The petals are open base picot stitch. Only two stitches go into the fabric. The rest of the stitches are woven. The center is made up of Toho seed beads which I anchor to the fabric.

For the second brooch, I wanted to make more of the open base picot stitch. I remember during this period, my elbow hurt like hell and I was feeling very depressed. What made it worse was that I kept how anguished I felt to myself as I felt talking about it would make it worse. Usually when I keep my feelings to myself (and I usually don't - just ask hubs) I turn to my sewing to get me through the day. When I was weaving the green petals, I would do a couple, stop for a while and then continue. So it took me all day just to do the petals. But it was very therapeutic. I don't have to explain myself or think of the worse case scenario or talk about how crappy I felt. That's the best part of sewing. It asks nothing of you but it occupies you.

For the center, I wanted something different from the first flower. I opted for french knots. I looked through my very untidy embroidery thread container and decided I would use mostly reds, yellow and orange plus some purple. I think the french knots took me 2 days to complete. Some of them were made with my left hand. Can you tell?

By the time I made these cherries, I had become better. The NSAIDs had kicked in I could use my right hand a bit more. I struggled mostly with the leaves. I couldn't make up my mind which stitch to use. Believe you me, it took me a couple of days to finally settle on cretan stitch.

This is my first attempt at a dimensional cherry brooch so I think it's not fanastic. I would love to make the leaves dimensional next time. What do you think of the cherries? They are wooden beads wrapped in thread.
If you are interested in how to wrap the wooden bead, I will take some photos the next time I make one. Maybe even in the next post.

I used one seed bead to "close" up the cherry. Do these look like nipples to you? They look like nipples to me. I love the cherries brooch the most because it made me laugh and I really needed to laugh.

Sew Many Ways Link Partay

Monday, May 25, 2015

I climbed Mount One Raffles Place

When hubs is at work, sometimes we email or text each other. Usually it's something short, and from him it would usually be something like this:
- what did you eat for dinner. (he likes to know what we eat for dinner)
- have you seen my key? (he loses his keys a lot)
- have you seen my work pass? (he loses his work pass a lot)
- are the kids home? (he likes to know if the kids are home)
Occasionally he sends me info about marathons he wants to sign up for and for me to sign up if I was interested. During one of those exchanges, he must have asked me if I was interested in participating in the National Vertical Marathon under the Lover's Challenge category. Perhaps the category "Lover's Challenge" bowled me over so much I missed out the word "vertical". Anyhoos I said yes and he signed us up. That must have been months ago.

Over a month ago, he reminded me that we had signed up for the National Vertical Marathon which was on Sunday, 24th May 2015. WE HAVE TO CLIMB 63 STOREYS, JANE.

I was like...are you f#&king kidding me? Are you f@%king kidding me? ARE YOU F*#KING KIDDING ME?

He wasn't f@%king kidding me.

I can't climb 63 storeys. I can, at most climb 16 storeys twice. Then I need to lie down and sleep for 4 hours. We practiced once. We climbed to the top of my block which was 16 storeys, took the lift down and climbed up again. That was it. Then I became engrossed in my tennis elbow which I wrote at great length about in my previous post here. Anyway with my tennis elbow in the way, I immediately forgot about the vertical marathon I had to climb.

Then I got better and before I knew it, the day of the National Vertical Marathon arrived. Hubs said not to worry about anything and just climb the stairs. Well, the night before I kinda worried about almost every single scenario - like what if I had trouble breathing, what if I had height phobia, what if I fainted, what if my ears got blocked?

I came very close to backing out. I asked hubs how he would take it if I were to back out. He said he would be very, very angry. Now, I'm not afraid of hubs. But he is such a nagger. Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag. He is capable of nagging about one topic for years. So I wisely did not back out.

One good thing about a vertical marathon is you don't have to start at a stupid time like 6am. Participants do it in batches spread throughout the morning. Our registration time was after 9am.

The building we have to climb is one Raffles Place.

I wanted to see how high 63 storeys is. It is very, very high.



I had my race bib and there was the START line. It was happening.

Just to give you an idea, majority of the participants were several decades younger than us. I was thinking: crap, everyone's going to sprint past us.

There were 2 different stairs - one for Lover's challenge and another for the others. We were told that when we crossed the finishing line, we had to hold hands.

One of my readers, Sandra wanted to know what a vertical marathon is. First of all, it does not involve scaling of walls. We don't need any rock climbing skills. All we do is climb stairs. Regular stairs. And we keep climbing until we reach the roof. That's it. You can run up the stairs if you have the ability. If not, just do it one step at a time. To overtake, you have to do it via the side closest to the wall.


So, yep. This is basically it. Climbing the stairs. My strategy was to walk, not run, one step at a time. Also, I carried a bottle of water so I could sip water as I went. That really helped me a lot. My other strategy was not to stop for more than a few seconds. And that's what I did. Just kept going and going. Along the way, some people stopped. Some people who sprinted past us, we managed to overtake later on. (they ran out of steam)

The first 20 floors was strangely hard because the air was quite thin and I felt claustrophobic. But after 20 floors, I got used to it and it became easier.

Hubs had a ball. He has done vertical marathons before and he's a fitness maniac so it was leisurely for him. He walked behind me throughout, taking photos.


He sweated a lot though, much more than me. Along the way, there were people stationed to cheer us on. Some of the cheerleaders were "eating snake" (skiving). Many of the cheerleaders lied. They kept saying: you're halfway there (I was 1/3). Or: almost there. Or 13 more floors (it was 15 more).


Finally we reached the roof and I was expecting a rousing cheer or something. It was more of a : this way please. And I wished I hadn't worn hubs' shorts. I'm just realising how big my butt looks in it. And do excuse the auntie fanny pack.


And that's my winning walk. Walking with legs feeling like jelly. And we forgot to hold hands!


My first vertical marathon. I felt really good.

We had our photo taken for free and here it is, scanned in.
Originally I wanted to photoshop the colour of my face but I decided to let it be. You see, when I exercise, my entire face turns RED. Not the healthy, pink of health red. It's more like the 'what the hell happened to you' kind of red.

My official timing: 30 mins 34secs.

Australian Suzanne Walsham won the marathon with a time of 9 minutes and 55 seconds. I think she must have flown up to the roof. Demmit. I should have worn my winged Adidas.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My tennis elbow

You know I had been bitching about my hurting right arm? Well, I let it get really bad before I went to see the doctor. It was very poor judgement. I kept thinking it would get better on its own. Another reason I was delaying going to the doctor is the amount of waiting time involved. I was planning to go for subsidized healthcare and based on my experience, the polyclinic is always crowded. I ended up going to the clinic 3 times in one day. The first time I reached the clinic at 8:25am to get registered. The doctor allocated to me had so many patients that my appointment with her was at 12 noon or so. I went back home and returned at noon. I finally saw the doctor at 12:30pm. She sent me for x-rays and said I had to return after 2pm for another consultation when the x-rays are ready. I went to meet hubs for lunch and went back to the clinic at 2pm. Fortunately many patients weren't around when their numbers were called so I got my turn fast.

The good news is I do not have any broken bones. The bad news is I have tennis elbow. And I know exactly what you're thinking. And the answer to your question is: no, you don't need to play tennis to get tennis elbow. The doctor wasn't very forwarding with any treatment. The day I consulted the doctor, I had already reached the point where dressing myself was a problem. My right arm could no longer straighten and many simple daily tasks were a struggle. Like brushing my teeth, wiping my ass, opening the refrigerator, boiling water, tying my shoelace, opening a bag of chips, putting on my bra, taking off my bra and have I mentioned wiping my ass? And the doctor was like, oh, it's going to get worse. But no concrete treatment plan. She asked if I had tried putting ice on my elbow. I said yes and finally I asked her what were her suggestions for my elbow to get better.

Guess what? The doctor opened Firefox and googled "tennis elbow". She picked wikipedia and it's here if you want to read it. She went through the wiki page with me and after all that, she suggested I see a specialist. There is a waiting list to see a specialist so in the end we decided I should see a physiotherapist first. She sent me off with some NSAIDs.

Fortunately I got to see the physiotherapist just 3 days later. Honestly, I didn't have much confidence in him either. Well, he kept saying to himself: what to do, what to do. I went through all the tasks I usually do with my right arm and he thought it was possible the weights exercise I do at my cardiomix class may have caused a shoulder injury. He did some arm rotation, some shoulder manipulation and found a very tight spot in my right shoulder. He pressed on the spot for a few minutes. And lo and behold, I could straighten my right arm. It was almost like a miracle. He gave me some exercises to do daily to fix the shoulder issue. After I reached home, I realised he hadn't given me any exercises for my tennis elbow! Idiot!

This week I have become slightly better. The tennis elbow is still there. But I can wipe my ass without problems. Once my NSAIDs run out, I will know for sure how I feel. The past few weeks, I have modified my lifestyle to accomodate my right arm. I use my left hand more often. It was very challenging at first and my brain really resisted. In particular, using the mouse with my left hand is mind boggling. I have to really think about my action otherwise I will use the wrong finger. By the way, anyone received weird emails from me? Like an empty reply or on facebook did you get an increased amount of Likes from me for your posts? Well, aplogies from my left hand!

Hubs bought me this mouse which I can put on any surface, even my lap or stomach. This is a right handed mouse but sometimes I use it with my left hand. Hightlighting is still a challenge with this mouse and dragging the mouse pointer gives me a headache.

Hubs also bought a keyboard with a touch mouse. I like this touch mouse but your fingers can feel cramped after a while. So now I have two keyboards and three kinds of mouse.

Cooking is a bit of a problem at the moment. I have to plan it really well if I want to cook. Like get hubs to do any chopping of vegetables before he goes to work. (I can't use my left hand to chop) Housework that involves scrubbing or vacuuming is out of the question. My home is a mess but it's the last thing I worry about.

This week I was able to go for my Pilates and cardiomix class. Of course I am extra careful and there are some exercises I skip. I'm finally feeling human again. During the period when I couldn't bend my right arm, I felt so sickened with fear. It's possible I stuffed my face with snacks and it's possible I may have gained weight. Anyway we'll never know because I refuse to weigh myself.

It's a good thing I'm feeling better because this Sunday, me and hubs are participating in a vertical marathon. I think it's 63 storeys. What was I thinking? I have height phobia, remember? I'm suddenly feeling faint. Plus I totally did not prepare for it. My biggest fear is I will be carried out in a stretcher. See ya.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How old is your face?

It's been about 3 weeks and my arm/elbow is still sore. I think years of knocking into door knobs, doors and walls plus poor computer/mouse habit has really taken its toll on my right arm. Plus the small amount of weights I do at my cardiomix class could have contributed. I haven't done any vacuuming, sweeping or cooking since. My arm isn't broken. It's still usable except bending it hurts. It seems old age is winning.

Speaking of age, hubs wanted to see my reaction and asked me to check out how-old.net. Have you heard of it? It's a website that detects age and sex based on the photo you submit. It's supposed to be a fun thing and no one is supposed to get hurt... I wanted to see how accurate this face detecting website is. So I submitted the most recent photo I have taken on my 20th wedding anniversary in March.

If you are like me, you will be delighted when the site guessed your age wrong, like much, much younger. Woo hoo! 32 baby!

Just to see if the site is consistent, I submitted another photo taken on the same day and I am next to a waxed figure, Vin Diesel. As you can see, I have aged from 32 from previous photo to 39. Vin Diesel's age is quite close - he is 47 this year. (Good wax artist!)

And here's one of me waiting for my photo with Vin Diesel. And just like that, I aged 4 years. Btw, in case you are absolutely dying to know, I am 50 years old in the photos and will turn 51 in June. Yep, I'm an old lady with the body of a 69 year old woman. <groan, creak, snap, plop, ache, drag> But in my mind, I am FOREVER 19.

Here's my dear old mum. I don't know her age in this photo. It's probably mid 70's. Close but she's a man!

My girl was aged older by 10 years. Sob. But you know what? When you are really, really young, it doesn't hurt so much. If I were aged older by 10 years, I would want to hammer the website. Like hammer, hammer.

My son who was 16 in this photo was aged up as well. The website got his sex wrong too. Hubs was very happy with his guessed age.

I tried a pic of the kids when they were young and the guess was close - wrong by 1 year. The website got my son's sex wrong again.

I noticed that the website is not good at detecting sex. Here hubs has facial hair so that's pretty clear, rite? Yet it detected he's female.

I used these 2 pics - one is of hubs and the other one is hubs' man-crush - a member of parliament in Singapore, Mr Baey Yam Keng. A man-man photo. Very good. The sex is right but the age is wrong for hubs. He's older than Mr Baey.

Still with his man-crush, and now Mr Baey is much younger. In case you're wondering, hubs' iphone has Mr Baey on his wallpaper.

This is an old illustration of hubs and I am amazed the website could detect his age (at the time of illustration). The artist is good!

Finally I submitted a crude drawing of myself I drew a few years ago. Wow, amazing. The website got the age right but guessed I'm a boy on account of the moustache.

Have you tried submitting your photo? I had such a good time laughing over the guesses that I almost forgot about my shat arm.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tatting elbow

Hey folks,

Ever since I caught tatting fever last weekend, I had been tatting up a storm. Tatting for me comes and goes. Sometimes I even forget tatting exists. Then my interest gets reignited and off I go.

For the past few days I had been sitting on my ass just literally tatting away. Yesterday I made my last tatted item and decided to stop. The fever was over. Besides my elbow was hurting and I do believe I have developed tatting elbow. I could also easily have hurt my elbow some other way as I am extremely clumsy. I hope the elbow stops hurting because it's my right elbow and I am right handed. Also every Friday, I go for my cardiomix class which has some sort of kickboxing thingy and I need a good working pair of elbows. (kickboxing sounds so cool rite? it's just crazy swinging of arms and legs)

So I was tatting rite, and I decided to make the items in my craftsy shuttle tatting class. This craftsy shuttle tatting class is taught by Marilee Rockley and there are 7 projects altogether. The projects build up your tatting skills. I will tell you what I think of this class later on. I signed up for this class around 2 years ago but I only made 1 item. It was the floret tatted earrings and I gave it away to my friend, Vivian who loved it. And I have a photo of her wearing the earrings somewhere on my computer but I have no idea which folder to look under. So...

Anyway, I thought it was time I attempt a few more items in the class. The first thing I made was the same floret tatted earrings. It is a fairly easy and straightforward tatting. This time I made them for myself. Nowadays I want to be very selective when it comes to making stuff. I don't want to make every damn thing. Like do you go shopping and then tell yourself, "I can make that. And that. And that." AND you actually make them? With so much clutter in my life, I want to make stuff that I would use. And that's why I took the trouble to buy stainless steel earrings findings. Stainless steel is not surgical steel so it's possible my skin will react badly. Only time will tell. When it comes to jewellery, I like it to have some gold, platinum or a gun metal look. I got really lucky I was able to find earrings findings AND jump rings in gold to match the golden beads. I think I'll rock these floret earrings.

 
Next project... I was very attracted to the classic edge bracelet and I used red thread with blue toho beads. Again, not a difficult pattern. It's just a lot of repeats. I can see myself wearing this bracelet for many years. For the closure, I used a toggle clasp. Can you tell I love this bracelet so much?


This next rhapsody necklace I wasn't attracted to at all. Now I said I would choose my projects carefully and not end up making something I won't use. But the instructions looked complicated and I had never done any tatting that had a mirror look. I attempted this project solely to upgrade my skills. Well, I must say I learnt a few tricks. But making it was a nightmare. It was very easy to make mistakes and I certainly made a few which I couldn't undo. All in all, it wasn't fun at all. Plus, it turned out quite ugly. Okay, it's butt ugly. I will never wear it. If I make it again using a thinner thread, I may like it more but I don't think I can go through another process of making it again.



I was excited to make this next bracelet because it's my kind of thing. It is fairly easy, lots of repeats and it used split rings. But after making it and trying it on, I see that parts of it tend to stick up. I tried to get them to stay flat but it just won't work. Somehow the sticking up part spoilt the look of the bracelet for me.



There was a parfait snowflake which I didn't make but I watched it mainly just to learn something. And there was another pair of earrings which I deemed far too ugly to make. But I sat through it as well.

Now I'm going to tell you what I think of the class but you want to take it with a pinch of salt because this is just my experience. First of all, I am a fan of Marilee Rockley, the instructor. I think her tattings are really gorgeous. But if I were brand new to shuttle tatting and I take her class on craftsy? I think blood would come out of my nose, my eyes and my ears. Maybe my head would explode. I think a lot of the fault lies with the camera person/producer/director of the class. When you want a close up of what she is doing and mind you tatting is very small and hard to see, guess what? You will get a front shot of the teacher from the chest up. Why? The point of view of the camera irritated me as well. Like stay with her hands, come on! Pay attention. Also, Marilee doesn't show to the camera the in-progress shots of her tatting nearly as clearly as I would like. I was able to follow the class mainly because shuttle tatting is not new to me. Still there were times when I had to replay over and over just to understand what was going on. This was especially true for the rhapsody necklace. So why did I enrol in this class? I was attracted to adding beads to tatting. I have tried bead tatting before and I learnt it from a book. But the process of learning from a book caused blood to spill out of my eyes, ears, nose and mouth and maybe my head exploded a little. So did I get anything out of this class? Yes, I achieved my goal of learning about adding beads to tatting and I am happy about that.

If you are new to shuttle tatting there are lots of youtube videos available. Like tatted treasures and she is just one of many. Marilee offers some free tutes too. See here. Tatted treasures as well as Marilee use the traditional way of holding a shuttle. I think most people who can't tat have problems with the traditional way of holding a shuttle. There's a youtube instructor who teaches another way of holding the shuttle. I tried it and it's a lot easier to get. Try it here. She has over a hundred tatting videos but they are silent ones. There are English instructions so if you can get used to the non-verbal...p.s. she has crazy nails too. I have tried switching to this new method of holding a shuttle but you know what? My muscle memory automatically uses the traditonal way.

Tat's all for now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

If you drink...



Folks,

Hands up those of you who drink. And how much do you drink?

One glass a day? Okay.
Two? Hmmm.
Three? Really....

Okay, I'm just messing with you. I'm not the alcohol police and this is not an intervention. I thought you guys might be interested in this new The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act which kicked in from 1st April.

Under The Liqour Control Act, these are not allowed:
• No drinking in public places between 10.30pm and 7am.
• Retail shops have to stop selling alcohol after 10.30pm. Also no takeaway from drinking places after 10.30pm.

• 2 areas, Little India and Geylang designated Liquor Control Zone face stricter control.
Drinking alcobol public spaces is banned in these zones from 7am on Saturdays to 7am on Mondays, as well as from 7pm on the eve of a public holiday to 7am on the day after the holiday.

A first-time offence for illegal drinking will carry a fine of up to $1,000, while repeat offenders could be fined a maximum of $2,000 and may face a jail term of up to three months. Shops selling alcohol beyond the permitted hours may face a fine of up to $10,000. Penalty for offences commited in the Liquor Control Zone are significantly higher - 1.5X more.

How do I feel about this Bill taking effect? I'm all for it. But then again, I do not drink. Neither does hubs. So we are not curbed in any way. Imagine having to remember the restrited hours and know if you are in a Liquor Control Zone. My choice of poison is tea and so is hub's. Now if drinking/purchase of tea is restricted, that would be a different matter...... I would start a (online) protest.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tatted Pendant

Last night I shared this tatting-in-progress pic on my Instagram (projectsbyjane). Now I know me well. Many of my in-progress work end up forever in-progress. Have you looked in my tatting container? It's horrible. Tangled thread and so many in-progress motifs. The problem with tatting and also with crochet? All that stupid end threads you have to hide. Ugh.  All my in-progress tatting just need the end threads hidden!!!

Well, instead of finishing up all my old in-progress tats, I made a brand new motif - with a black and red Lizbeth #20 thread. A lot of tatting are variations of doilies. You know who doesn't need a doily? Me. They are dust trappers and with so much stuff in my home collecting dust, the last thing I want is one more dust trapper.

So my tatted doily is my new pendant. This tatting is easy to make. You know what's the hard part? Putting in the two split rings. Ugh. Is there an instrument out there to do this insanely difficult task? I had to do it with my eyes closed for fear the rings would fly into my eye.


I made a few small mistakes with this tatted pendant but they were so minor I didn't feel like unpicking and fixing them.


I only have a few necklaces to choose from and I picked this surgical steel chain because it is not too thick for the delicate pendant.

I found it hard to photograph my tatted pendant in my balcony. So I held it in my hand and stuck it out of the "window". There's no window, just an empty space with window grilles which I had pushed to one side. As you can see, I have a maker's hand. Crinkly and slightly rough and my hidden index finger has a forever peeled skin look.

I wasn't entirely happy with my shot so I tried something else. I let my hand dangle out of the "window" and got this shot. Too bad the wind made the pendant move around.

To prevent the pendant from flying around, I leaned as far out as I could and placed the pendant against the wall outside my flat. With my right hand, I fumbled with the setting and took this shot. And that was when I realised if I had been more careless I could very easily have plunged to my death because I was leaning out of my "window" and with my exceptionally long torso combined with my large head, it would have no chance against gravity.

Alright, back to more tatting. (I've got tatting fever) and I promise to stay away from my open balcony!
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