Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A ruffled scarf

I bought this ball of yarn from Spotlight. What attracted me was the unusual spidery strands on the yarn.

I saw on the label that there was a free pattern and you only need 1 ball of yarn. Also, the idea of knitting ruffles appealed to me because I didn't think that you could knit ruffles.

Yesterday I looked at the pattern and I realised it was beyond my comprehension. It was like Klingon. Thankfully, youtube has been invented so I found a video that explained the mystery of fishnet knitting to me. Ah! It's not so hard after all.

You have to open up the yarn which will reveal the spidery webs. I was terribly unhappy that in more than 3 areas, the yarn was torn in the middle.

You knit as usual but you don't carry the yarn. Instead stick it in the needle via one of the large holes.

This is what it looks like. Just 9 casts on.    

My girl modelled for me. The scarf is a little short for me as I have an unusually long torso. Okay, so I've made a ruffled scarf. Not sure if I'm keen to make another one. It just feels like a novelty and once you've done it, you lose interest.

My ravelry here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A beading intermission

I blame my spring cleaning for my current beading addiction. If only I hadn't started arranging my bead stuff.... Anyway, it's too late now. I'm so far gone I have considered giving up sewing bags, moving to Beadsland and become a full-time beader. Well, I thought about it but I came to my senses. I will go back to my sewing very sooooon.

In case you're wondering why I'm making jewellery, it's because I have this stash of findings and beads gifted to me by one of my customers. Yes, I know how lucky I am. Thank you Tiba!  She gave the stash to me a while ago and although I managed to use a few items here and there, I never really sorted out the items until now.

This is a fraction of my stash - most are Tiba's and some are mine. I have organised them into seed beads, big beads, clasps, round little thingys and thread. It's so much easier for me to look for items now.

By the way, is it normal to wash your beads before you use them? I use the smell and feel test. If it has a smell or it feels icky, I wash them.

As you may know, my knowledge in beading is quite limited. I went for a few lessons at a local bead shop some time ago. Geez, I don't even remember when. I was keeping a friend company and needless to say, I became quite interested myself. Bead weaving speaks to me because it is so much like hand sewing. I learnt 3 styles of bead weaving but I guess I only liked the spiral rope. (it's all I can make at the moment)

One of the challenges I gave myself when starting any bead project is to use what's already in my stash and not go out and buy some more supply. That explains why when I saw 2 containers of similar sized beads - one white and one pinkish, I just jumped in and made a necklace using the two beads combo. I never really thought about whether the colour suits me or it it will turn out nice.

Here's the completed necklace. I think it's butt ugly. The colour doesn't suit me at all. I wear a lot of dark colours and seriously, have you ever seen me in pink/hot pink? So this is a good lesson learnt. For future beads projects, I will ask myself if I will wear it before I make it.

To be honest I have no idea where these white and pink beads came from. I know they're not from Tiba's stash. Yet I can't imagine myself paying for them.

If I were to enter a beads shop, these are the colours I will pay for. I'm always drawn to turquoise, teal, cyan, darks and some cream. Possible other colours are bronze, gold and maybe coral red. One colour I would love to get my hands on? Blue. Not the light blues but the pure blue or cobalt blue. But they're extremely hard to find.

You know what I dislike most about bead weaving? All the stray ends you have to weave in. The same goes for knitting and crochet.

For my next project I wanted to use these large black glass beads. I had bought a packet at Arab street and despite my friend warning me that some of the shops at that location mix their beads, I did not check the packet of beads too closely. Of course I was really angry when I realised that I had bought a mix of black and grey beads. If you do beading you will understand my anger. Firstly, you can't randomly pick out a bead as your end result will look weird. Like some black, some grey - it just doesn't go. Secondly, it's really hard to pick out the greys from the blacks. So I had to spend time doing just that. On top of that, all the beads were unevenly shaped.

So I was really motivated to get rid of a bad purchase. They were really cheap tho'.  I selected some black seed beads and big red seeds from Tiba's stash. I thought they would go together and I was sure this time I would wear the item.

What do you think of the red/black/grey bracelet? It's quite thick due to the size of the beads but I would wear it. If only my clasp matches! I did try looking for a dark toned clasp in the bead shop but it was so hard squeezing for space with the other aunties. By the way, my wrist is usually quite thin but in the photos, they look ginormous. Sadly, I have lots of the black/grey beads left.

For my next project, once again I wanted to get rid of a bad purchase. I had bought a packet of bugle beads from Spotlight many, many, many years ago. I have no idea what I wanted to do with the bugle beads but there it lay in the drawers year after year. After a good wash with dish washing detergent and drying in the sun, I attempted to construct another spiral bracelet. I kept the colours to two. I used some seed beads from Tiba's stash and despite the stiffness of the bugle beads, the bracelet managed to drape.

What do you think of the Bugle beads spiral bracelet? This time the clasp matches. And of course I still have loads of the bugle beads. How many bracelet must I make before I use them up?

I'm not over the spiral necklace phase yet. I have a couple more in progress. But after that I'll stop. Promise. It's almost February!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One woman versus three men

If you live in Singapore you probably already know who won the by-election in Punggol East. I wrote about the by-election here. If you live outside Singapore, you  probably don't care. But here's a post about it anyway!

One woman and three men ran for election.

And the woman won! Decisively too. She won 54.5% (16,038) of the votes . And she's from the opposition party. And she's the one who said:

"I may look pregnant but I'm not."

She made history as the first woman candidate from oppostition to win a single-seat constituency. This chick thrashed the men. She has no huge paper qualifications to boast of. But she is down to earth and is photogenic. This win is huge for the opposition party. HUGE!

One of the male candidates made history as well.

This candidate from SDA (also a opposition party) landed on the history books after having scored the lowest vote share. He received 0.6% of the total votes. This translates to 168 votes. That's right. 168 people voted for him out of 29,832. He lost his election deposit of $14.5k. His loss would have been greater had he held a rally. Instead he "saved money" by doing a live-streaming broadcast. Despite the loss and humiliation (my words), he said: (via Straits Times)

"The results have not dampened me, nor the SDA. It only means we have to fight harder, and work harder when the next contest comes."

I always admire people who won't give up. But 0.6%? It would be silly to come back next time and contest again in the same ward.

This candidate from Reform Party received 1.2% (353) of the votes. He also lost his election deposit. I'm surprised he received so many votes. I really thought he would do worse than the SDA guy as he's never contested in this ward before. I mean, the SDA guy ran for election at the ward in the last election. Despite the loss, he said: (via Straits Times)

"It does not matter how many deposits we lost. It's about democracy."

Interestingly, the number of rejected votes which numbered 417 is more than what each of the top two losers got.

The ruling party's guy only received 43.7% (12,856) of the votes. Honestly, I was shocked. I'm sure the ruling party is shocked. Like what the hell happened? What? The "Son of Punggol" (a Straits Times tagline) is not good enough for Punggol East? Why didn't he win? Are Punggol East residents that dissatisfied with the ruling party? Should he have toned down on his humble background? Or is it because of his high forehead? I personally would have voted for him if he's a Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. (He's a colorectal doctor) But that's only because my own beloved ENT doctor has left public service and gone into private practice (sniff, sniff) which means he's now too expensive for me. But I would really prefer it if doctors remain doctors and not run for office because almost anyone can be a politician but how many can be doctors?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My sewing space

I finally managed to get my sewing area clean and tidy. Now it's so tidy I can't bear to use it!

I keep the bare essentials on the table (it's Ikea). Everything I need to sew are in the little drawers and the scissors are in the black basket. I'm kind of a messy sewer so sooner or later, the table space gets piled up with this and that. I've put away everything else and I'm going to have a really hard time once I start sewing because I will spend a lot of time searching for this and that.

My Melly and Bear gets to sit near me.

I use a lot of pins when I sew. This big ass pin cushion does the job. It's a Chinese pin cushion which is a common feature in homes maybe in the 70's. Now, most homes won't even have a pin cushion.

I also have these 2 Chinese dolls containers. They're absolutely useless and are dust magnets. I have to find better use for them. Maybe to keep all the ear phones?

This year I hope to stop collecting containers as my home is so cluttered. Seriously, I don't need another container. The spring cleaning is still on-going but the vacuuming has come to a halt temporarily. I may be responsible. I opened up the vacuum cleaner to wash the sponge (a Dyson feature) and due to my negligence or Dyson's feature, the sponge disintegrated. Today I stupidly went out to look for a replacement sponge and after going to two stores, I was told to call a hotline. After ringing the hotline, I was told to go to a specific address to buy it. I feel so silly not to have thought of ringing up the hotline. What a waste of a couple of hours.

I should be starting my sewing soon. I haven't really felt like sewing anything this month. It's been great, relaxing and doing other crafts. But it's my bags that bring in the money. So I better get cracking. But first let me complete a couple of beading projects. It's so addictive!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Needle with no eye

I have been busy spring cleaning my home and it's taking me forever to sort through what to throw, what to keep and the endless vacuuming, wiping and discovery of forgotten items. I found a new use for hubs' tray which he snitched from his mom. It's my beading tray from now on. I put a piece of felt over the surface when I'm beading.

I found my beading supplies from when I learnt beadweaving. They were abandoned in one of the drawers.

Very foolishly, I jumped in and started a new spiral necklace. I have not bothered to improve my knowledge of beadweaving techniques. That is why a spiral necklace is all I know. Amazingly I still know all the moves. I hope this won't become a UFO because I'm still in the middle of spring cleaning. This is quite a conservative necklace. I could add interesting beads on the outside but I wasn't sure how many beads I needed so I decided to play safe. The worst thing about beading is that you run out of beads and of course you will never be able to find the exact same size and colour and manufacturer.

For this new necklace, I used a Fireline thread which is very strong and impossible to thread through regular beading needles. I had used Fireline thread once before and I ended up breaking all my beading needles because the eye of the needle was too small. So that was a complete waste of money. I went to get big eye needles and was really annoyed when I opened the package at home. Apparently, the manufacturer had made a mistake. The needles had no eyes. I threw the needles away. The next time I was at a beading shop, a different one this time, I checked out the big eye needles again. I was puzzled that the needles had no eyes as well. I decided to ask the shop assistant and she told me I had to use a needle to open the eye!

It seems this kind of needle is different from the conventional needle. Both ends are pointed and the eyes are in between. So amazing. I wish I hadn't thrown the "defective" needles away. What a clever invention. But of course this needle wouldn't work on fabric. Now back to my cleaning!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Knit and Purl

After I completed my lacy keyhole scarf (blogged here), I dove straight into the next project in the Craftsy Knit Lab class which is a seed stitch cambridge scarf. It consists of knit followed by purl. After completing two rows which took me a really long time, I decided to abandon the project. I felt it was foolish to jump into another long scarf project which will take ages to complete when I'm not really proficient in neither knit nor purl.

I thought I would just practice my stitches by just making something simple which won't take up a lot of time. I knitted two little bitsy scarves - one for my Mell-chan doll and one for Bear. I chose pink for Melly not because she's a girl doll but it was the only colour I had in the weight of yarn I needed. I chose blue for Bear not because he's a boy bear but he's chocolate and blue and chocolate go so well together. I added little fringes to the ends just by using a lark's head knot which you use in Macrame.

The blue scarf is all knits while the pink scarf is all purls. I have discovered that the effect of knitting every row is the same as purling every row. I have also discovered that my last two fingers on my left hand are incapable of holding the yarn. They're just plain useless. These two scarves helped me "master" my knits and purls. I made a few mistakes here and there. Knitting can be very relaxing. Your mind empties and it's just you and the knits and purls. Occasionally my mind wanders off and I forget if I knitted or purled. Lately I've felt some stress and anxiety and I noticed that whenever I needed to feel calm, I just have to pick up my knitting and suddenly I forget all my troubles. It is especially good on a long trip on the train. I can get claustrophobic and having something to distract my mind will keep the panic attacks away.

Last night I brought Melly out of her box as I wanted to do a photo-shoot this morning. I think I've left her in the box for too long because she smelled like something old. So I had no choice but to wash her. Washing a doll is no different from washing a child, no?

I used L'Oreal shampoo and for her body I just gave her a good wipe. Wow, she's dirty!

I realised that conditioning her hair would be a little nutty. That is why I restrained myself. I left her in the balcony to air dry her hair.

Here they are. My Melly and Bear in their new scarves. Doesn't Melly look sparkling in her clean hair? She smells good too. Bear as always looks a little aloof.

After my two little scarves were completed, I needed a more challenging project. Again, I wanted something that could be completed in a short while. In the Craftsy Knit Lab resource, there was a link to a waffle knit dishcloth pattern here. I checked it out and thought it was great as it had knits and purls in the same row. It would make a good practice.

Here's my result. I used a 4mm needle which I discovered is a size I like very much. It's so much easier to handle and I managed to knit quite loosely as opposed to the lacy keyhole scarf where the stitches were very tight. I made quite a few mistakes - knitting when purling and vice-versa. Also I dropped a few stitches and discovered them too late. Lastly the binding was really tight. I'm still fumbling when it comes to binding off. Overall it was really enjoyable knitting this project. Remember previously I was saying I couldn't tell the difference between a knit or purl stitch? Well, this project helped me see the difference a little better.

One other skill I needed to pick up for knitting is to learn to count the stitches and rows. For the dishcloth project, I wrote down on a notebook which row I was making. But sometimes I lose myself so it's an essential skill. I checked out this video on youtube and it does explain a little how to count somewhat.

I've also learnt to unknit and unpurl which you really need to learn right from the start. In the past, I used to rip out my project because I made an error and I didn't know how to fix it. That's probably why I gave up on knitting before. The thing is I keep forgetting how to unknit and unpurl but now I have a solution. On Craftsy, there are these little videos which show specific techniques for knitting and every time I need to recall how something is done, I just bring up the videos and I learn all over again.

And this is something I want to share with you. If you are new to knitting or wish to take up knitting in the future, you should sign up for this Craftsy class called Creative Cabled Necklines. Let me give you the reasons why.

1. It's a FREE class.
2. It gives you access to Knitter's Handbook which are short videos showing you the stitches and how-tos. (I think any of the knitting related free courses such as Know You Wool will give you the same access as well)

To get this free class, you need to sign up for a craftsy account here. (p.s. I don't benefit in any way if you sign up)

Once you have "purchased" the class for $0, you need to find your way to the Technique Library tab. There's your Knitter's Handbook. Click on it.

Click on each section and explore. Each video is very short and precise and some has slow motion. And I shall say it one more time. It's FREE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pardon me, I left my supermodel body behind in year 2000

Yesterday would have been a great day. I went to collect my Christmas craft market cheque. The trip alone took 1.5 hours travelling time on the train including  2 train transfers. That's just one way. But as long as there's a cheque at the end of the journey, I think it's worth the time.

After I had collected my cheque, I decided to go shopping. I was alone and had money. Ha ha! I felt on top of the world. No one around to tell me what I should or shouldn't buy.

Top of the list, I had an item I needed to get. A swimming costume. Since the beginning of the year and yes I know it's only the 18th of January, I've been on a lose weight crusade. Why do you think I've been jogging my ass off? I certainly don't jog for the fun of it. And it's 5km. Not like, say, 3km. <snigger> Last year I really saw the weight and fats pile up on me. I want to use the excuse that age is catching up. But I got really lazy.

Anyway, I've decided to add swimming to my lose weight regime. Do you think I enjoy swimming? I can barely keep afloat in the first place. But yes, I'm capable of swimming from one end of the pool to the other. My thinking is swimming might just help to trim off some fats from places that jogging cannot reach. Like the tummy. And the arms. And the thighs. And the ass.

Well, that's the plan, more or less. Jogging and swimming and in no time, my blobs of fats will melt away.

But first I had to get a new swimming costume because my old one was sadly made for Jane2000. I spotted this shop selling Arena swimming costume. It's one of those small boutique. It had 50% discount and 20% discount plastered all over the shop. It would please hubs because he loves a good sale. I tackled the 50% items first. I went through every item. Then I heard the shopkeeper saying: "All one piece." in the most uninterested voice.

I asked if all the one piece sizes were the same size.

Shopkeeper shrugged. I couldn't tell if it was a yes or a no. So I went through every item to look at the size. I had to bring the label close to my face because I couldn't see so well. I guess doing that really annoyed the shopkeeper because she started re-arranging the items I had touched. "All one piece." she said again. I finally found a size that was large enough for me so I grabbed it.

I wasn't gonna enter the fitting room with just one item so I looked at the 20% discount rack. I finally found one I liked and was about to enter the fitting room when the shopkeeper handed me the second one I wanted in a bigger size. "This one biggest. For you." she said meaningfully looking me up and down and sideways.


I was starting to understand what was going on. She thinks I'm too freaking fat to fit into her swimming costumes!

I tried the "one piece" only costume and demmit. It was too small for me. I blame my towering height. Then I tried the "biggest" piece recommended for me. The bottom was alright. But the top was clearly made for someone far, far chestier than me. I mean, there was a huge gap between the straps when I put it on. In fact the gaps are so huge you could see Russia through them.

I told the shopkeeper the "biggest" size was too big for me and she gave this incredulous look. "Too big? How can?" Then she did the meaningful look of up-down-sideways.

I looked around some more. Now I had a better sense of what size fitted me. It was between the "biggest" and the "one piece".

I spotted another bunch of 50% off and was merrily going through the sizes when the shopkeeper came up and said in her uninterested voice, "One piece only." She re-arranged the pieces I had touched and kept shaking her head.

Finally it dawned on me. The shopkeeper thinks I'm too fat to fit into any of the "one piece" as there are not bigger sizes she could give to me.

I felt a little humiliated but I needed a swimming costume. So I tried the pricer ones which had a 15% discount. I chose a couple and asked to try them. The shopkeeper immediately took out the "biggest" size and I protested. I told her it would not fit me around my chest. "Really?" she said. Like I would lie about that. Finally she found the size I wanted and practically threw the costumes at me.

I think if I weren't alone, I would have stomped out of the shop. But there was no one to see my humiliation and I so badly wanted a swimming costume. I entered the fitting room. This time very sadly because I was thinking if the costumes were too small, it meant the nasty little shopkeeper was right. Well, she was right. They were both too tight on me. I could hardly breathe when I was wearing them. I took off the costumes and gave them to the shopkeeper keeping guard outside the fitting room. She did not even look at me. She knew.

I was close to tears. But it was my fault. I did leave my supermodel body behind in year 2000.

After leaving Arena boutique, I saw another shop Sportslink opposite. I entered thinking if anyone even hinted I was too fat I would scream.

Surprise. The sales people did not hover. One man came to explain how the sizes work and where the fitting room was. He said I could try as many as I like. What?

Did you guys hear that? I could try as many as I like. Even the ones that were clearly too small for me. Even the ones that fat Jane couldn't squeeze into. 

This was what I bought. There are no gaps under my straps when I wear it so you can't see Russia. Best part. It was discounted.

I also discovered God had invented TUMMY CONTROL swimwear so us ladies need not suck in our tummies when we swim.

So I got my swimming costume. Now I need to go swim.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another by-election in Singapore

You won't believe this. Singapore is having another by-election. Last year in May, we had a by-election as a opposition's MP had affairs with women and was subsequently sacked by his party, effectively stripping him of his seat in parliament. The opposition party fielded their deputy web master and he won.

In December last year, the ruling party's Punggol East seat was left vacant after the MP Michael Palmer stepped down due to him having an affair with a woman. Yes, another affair.

So the benchmark is set. Singapore MPs cannot be unfaithful to their spouses.

A by-election was called and yesterday was Nomination Day. A grand total of 4 candidates are contesting for 1 seat. 3 other interested parties who had expressed interest in contesting pulled out. <Snigger> I would have loved to see a 7-corner fight. 

These are the 4 candidates.

The first candidate is from the ruling party. Until a few days ago, no one has heard of him. He is a doctor with a very high forehead. He also looks older than his age. Up close he doesn't look so bad. But from afar, he looks at least 10 years older. It's his high forehead. But he has chances of winning because he is from the ruling party and the majority tends to vote for the ruling party. He may also lose because it's a by-election. It won't be because he has a high forehead.

The second candidate - the only female is from Worker's Party which is the only opposition party with any elected seats in parliament. The candidate ran in the last General Election for the same seat but lost to the ruling party's guy - the one who had to step down due to his affair with a woman. She lost but she had 41% of the votes. That is impressive. She has a good chance of winning. She is also her party's current deputy web master. Coincidence?

My favourite quote from her is :

I may look pregnant but I am not.

Most women don't take kindly to being told they look pregnant when they're just fat but not this chick. She sounds like a tough cookie.

The third candidate also ran in the last General Election for the same seat. Not only did he not win the seat, he lost his election deposit of $16k as well. He got a miserable 4.4% of the votes. Yes, not even 5%. Why he thinks he stands a chance this round beats me. I predict he will lose his $16k deposit. Again.

The fourth candidate I have very little knowledge about as he has never stood for election as a single candidate. Previously he stood for election as part of a team in a different ward but lost. He has only a week to make himself known to the voters. I just looked in my crystal ball and I'm very sad to say that he will lose his $16k deposit as well.

I don't like elections and by-elections. All the posturing and different parties attacking one another. It's so ugly.

Voting day is Jan 26. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Cat


I know I haven't exactly been telling you guys what I've been up to. I mean what's up with all the cats drawings. Truth is I'm working on a little idea I had. The seeds were planted last year when after a conversation with me mom, I wanted to confirm what she had said because I was pretty sure she had gotten the timeline wrong. It was a small, inconsequential detail so I won't tell you what it was but what really bothered me was I could not recall the timeline in my memory. It was as if I never lived it. I've always had amazing memory - maybe I don't retain facts the way hubs and son do and they're like walking encyclopedias - but I could remember timeline, conversations, what someone wore, the weather, pretty much detailed stuff. I know that not everyone remembers stuff the same way. For me, I've always loved how my brain stores memories. Because I could always go through the different moments of my life. That's a little bit how I amuse myself - just going thru' my memories.

So it frightened me that I was losing bits of my memories. Sometimes huge chunks at one go. I had known for some time that as I age, I forget stuff. It's part of the aging process and there's nothing I can do about it.

Or is there?

One day it occurred to me I could write down little pieces of my childhood. I choose my childhood specifically because these are the memories that are fast disappearing from my brain. Since I started blogging I have written a little bit of my life when I was little but it was more incidental.

Thinking it was a great idea I tried putting into words little floating images and conversations of my life between the ages of 4 and 12. And yes, I assure you I'm totally sane and I do not really see floating images and conversations. They're just floating inside my head. But however much I tried, the words did not come. It was early this year and yes I know it's only 16th Jan today, but one day it came to me. In order to make it work, I need to relate those memories to what I do now - something creative with some sewing and I believe when I do that the words will come. And that's the reason behind the drawings.

So I started with my cat.

Meet our cat.

It had no name. We weren't the kind of family who gave cats names.

We referred to the cat as Our Cat or simply Cat. In my Chinese dialect, we called it NGEOW. Unless you're Chinese, I don't know if I can teach you how to pronounce NGEOW. But let me give it a shot.

Say YOW like the sound you make when in pain. But say it THROUGH YOUR NOSE. Like NGEOW. That's it. You got it.

It was a house cat. It wasn't a pet. That much was made clear to us as our cat gave us no affection. None of that purring or nuzzling. Occasionally it would brush past our legs as if to tease us with what could have been.

It or rather she lived in my house every day when I lived in a village. Not the hobbits kind of village. More like the no paved road, no plumbing kind of village. I don't remember when we first had the cat. I just know that as long as I could remember, I had a cat until I was 12 when we moved to a flat far away.

I think our cat was light brown-orangey. It had stripes all over. When I think of the cat, I always see a tiger. She was fierce. She walked around the house like a boss. She also constantly fought with our dog. But let's save the dog for another day. I haven't drawn him yet.

Our cat also constantly got herself pregnant. If you're wondering why we didn't get her fixed, well, we were ignorant and mostly we were poor. So we simply put up with her getting preggy. I often wondered where the male cats came from as in my village, most families had dogs, not cats.

Of course we couldn't afford to keep the kittens. It was my third brother's job to "take care of the kittens". Our cat would care for the kittens until they became independent. That was when they mysteriously disappeared. I often wondered what happened to the kittens. One day my brother invited me to accompany him and I realized that he would take the kittens and release them in another village. The people living in that village seemed wealthier and maybe he was thinking they would have the resources to support the kittens. I have no idea. Anyway, it was a long time ago. A different world. A different time.

I think I got along pretty well with our cat. I stayed out of her way and she growled at me from a distance. Then one day something happened. I estimate I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. Our cat had just given birth and she was moving the kittens from place to place. Maybe she felt paranoid and wanted to hide the kittens from us. She would do it by using her teeth to catch the kittens by the neck. I was clumsy and got in her way.

What happened next is forever imprinted in my memory I'm very sure I'll never forget it. I accidentally stepped on our cat's tail. She immediately dropped her kitten and sank her claws into my shin. I screamed and jumped in the air and landed ONE MORE TIME on her tail. Of course the cat sank her claws deeper into my shin. It was my mother who came to my rescue. She chased the cat away and possibly scolded me for being careless. The wound was deep and I don't know how long I howled in pain. My mother never even took me to see the doctor. Yes, in those days, unless you are on the verge of death or broke a bone, you don't get to see the doctor.

My wound healed. I did not die. I still have the scar now. But I'm deathly scared of cats today. This morning I was avoiding the pervert at the exercise area and had to walk past two cats and it was absolutely terrifying.

I had no further incidents with our cat but I was very careful to stay out of her way.

I was going to make the drawing of my cat real mean but I stopped myself. I mean, really? Do I want a picture of a mean ol' cat? I think it's okay to take some liberties here and make some false memories. So I decided to make my cat bipolar. Sometimes she's mean. Sometimes she's cute as can be. The cute cat is my fantasy cat.

Last night I made an applique of our cat. I sewed on 250gsm card stock. I used my old sewing needles. I used straight stitch and interfacing for the fabric. Sewing on paper is very unforgiving. You can't make any mistakes.

What do you think? Does the fabric used for the stool look familiar?

The back of the card looks horrible.

So there you have it. What I am doing now and my motivations. Please indulge me while I record my memories for when I'm old and forgotten everything.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I can draw a cat

When I was in my teens, I yearned to be a cartoonist. I had no training but I didn't think it was necessary. I learned by imitating the cartoons in the Sunday newspapers. I drew on the unlined pages of my Biology exercise books. I managed to fill 3 such books with my practice drawings before I realised later on in my 20's I just didn't have the goods. Below is a sample from my practice books.

I spent hours and hours on this obsession and I did this until I was 19. Imagine how I would have turned out if I had poured all that energy on my studies!

In my early 20's I spent a lot of time making greeting cards with my drawings. But I had huge insecurities about my inadequate drawings.

Finally in my late 20's I decided to enroll in a short course at YMCA. Guess what it was? Yep, cartoon drawing. I completed the course but left disillusioned as I felt the teacher's drawings were quite crappy. I mean, he was teaching me to draw!

I discovered while sewing my drawings on pouches I was pretty much satisfied with my kindergarten level of drawing. I mean, I am most drawn to childish drawings. If I were to upgrade to say, secondary school level of drawing, my drawings may become too realistic for my liking. Not that I'm capable of realistic style of drawing but you get what I'm saying.

Today I chanced upon a few videos on youtube teaching easy way to draw cats and I decided to give them a go just to see if I'll learn anything. I was quite selective and only chose the cats which a very young child could draw.

Here are my results. I drew the cats by following the instructions faithfully. My favourite is the first sitting cat based on a Youtube tute found here. The second sitting cat is from this site. It's more generic and closer to how I would draw my cats. The third cat - a walking cat is from this youtube tute found here.

After reviewing what I had learned from these tutes, I conclude that I already know how to draw a cat. Certainly I'm poor at some of the postures and I still dislike drawing limbs but you'll know it's a cat.

These are my cats. I like my cats to be simple without too many details. What do you think? In case you're wondering, I'm drawing cats for a future project. And it's not any cat I'm drawing. It's my ol' cat. Yes, I used to have a cat when I was a child. I don't have any photos of my ol' cat and I honestly can't really remember what it looked like. Anyway, I have to make my cat a lot meaner because my cat was a mean ol' sonofabitch. That I remember.

Son saw me drawing and offered to draw cats for me. He drew 2 cats - a girl cat and a boy cat. I like the boy cat more. Then I told him his cats were sexist and he laughed.

Last year hubs and I saw an episode of Shark Tank. If you're not familiar with this reality TV show, this is how it works. Real investors sit on a panel and selected entrepreneurs go on the show to seek investment for their business. In this episode, this guy appeared on the show to ask for 10k for a 25% stake in his company which is called I WANT TO DRAW A CAT FOR YOU. I'm not kidding. His whole business is centered on the owner, Steve, drawing cats for customers. And his drawings weren't even that awesome.

Here's the video of "I want to draw a cat for you" pitch. Amazingly, Mark Cuban, one of the investors on the panel agreed to invest but his offer was $25k for 33% stake. The last time I checked, I Want To Draw A Cat For You is still alive.

Friday, January 11, 2013

In a patchwork garden

You could say I fell in love with Janet Bolton or rather Janet Bolton's applique designs at first sight. Let me see if I could recall that fateful day. It was a long, long, long time ago. (my son is 15 now) My girl was not born yet. (hope she doesn't read this!) I had gone to the library with my son strapped to my front. Since giving birth I had not dared to venture into the library with my son as my fear was I would be chased out once he started crying. That day I decided to brave it. My plan was to leave the minute he made any crying noise. Anyway, it turned out he was quite good. So I had time to browse and that's when I saw this book In a Patchwork Garden by Janet Bolton.

I was blown away. I was smitten. I fell hard. Gosh, I wanted to marry Janet Bolton. I wanted to marry the book. Later I found out the library had another book by Janet as well and I love that book - Patchwork Folk Art as well. But not enough to marry because my heart belonged to In a Patchwork Garden.

Let me show you a few pages from the book so you might fall in love yourself. Promise you won't marry her?

Janet makes these really amazing, quirky, fun applique quilts that evoke a sense of innocence. The stitches are deliberately not hidden and they add to the charm. Let me repeat. You need not hide your stitches!

What's wonderful about In a Patchwork Garden is Janet has step-by-step instructions on how to create similar applique quilts.

After my girl was born, I made an attempt to create one of the applique quilts. I chose Beehive Under Three Apple Trees as it looked the simplest.

I modified my version slightly and had two trees instead of three. Check out the details below.

I put in a lot of effort into this quilt. I tried to keep to Janet's aesthetics as much as possible.

You can make the comparison yourself.

Then I abandoned the quilt completely. It lay unfinished in my storeroom for years and years. Yes, vines and moss grew like in Snow White.

One reason why I abandoned the quilt was I realised that no matter how much I love Janet Bolton's quilts, they are her quilts. Trying to mimic what she did was fruitless as it was not my point of view. Passion is a prerequisite. If I were to try and complete the quilt today, I can do it easily. Finish the beehive, put a backing and it's done. But I see no point in it.

But I have another plan. An idea. Already I'm getting excited about it. It's been so many years since I made the quilt. I would love to make another one but this time, I will be inspired by Janet instead of trying to mimic her style. I have been sewing for so many years already. Certainly I would have developed my own style. Haven't I? So my idea is to make a picture quilt. Yes, soon. Maybe next week. Certainly this month. It would be interesting to see how my picture quilt turns out and to see how much I have changed aesthetically since I made the Beehive quilt.

If you're keen to check out more of Janet Bolton's quilts, go here.

I discovered a youtube video of her conducting her applique quilt class. Aren't the ladies in her class lucky to learn from the master?

I checked the library catalogue and am thrilled a few more Janet Bolton's books have been ordered. When will they arrive? I shall have to stalk the library catalogue. But I was terribly disappointed Janet Bolton's Textile Pictures has not been ordered and possibly never will be. I tried looking where the book might be available and it seems to be a very hard book to find as the only place which was supposed to stock it is a French site. Excusez-moi, my French not so powderful. I literally know 10 french words. It also sounds like a terribly expensive book so I decided not to hunt for it further. 

If you want to buy Janet Bolton's books, I have a a couple of links below for you*.

*Disclosure: I am a amazon associate and a few pennies will be thrown my way if you buy via my affiliate links.
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