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 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.
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