Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making embroidered gifts

Because I'm in school right now, I don't have a lot of time for crafts. When I saw an ad for embroidery supplies at Sublime Stitching in Bust Magazine last summer, I imagined it might fulfill my need for an easy creative outlet. I needed something that didn't take a lot of planning and that could be finished quickly, in order to receive maximum satisfaction for minimal effort.

After hemming and hawing about it for a few weeks, I decided to order all of the supplies I'd need, including needles, sharp scissors, a hoop and a floss (thread) palette, to see if my instincts were right. I also threw in some iron-on patterns, colourful tea towels and a baby bib for my baby nephew for good measure.

After the success of my first project, the bib below, I declared that I would give only embroidered gifts to my friends from that day forward.

It turns out that I know too many people to make that declaration a reality, but I'm still embroidering almost a year later. It's actually easier than I imagined possible, and it allows for creativity if you want to stretch. Just choosing and arranging patterns requires a certain amount of imagination, but if you want to move beyond Jenny Hart designs (I started out with the patterns available in her book Sublime Stitching), you can free-style, draw your own images with tailors chalk or look elsewhere for patterns; Craft recently drew my attention to the unique patterns in the new book Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray.

Another thing that makes this hobby appealing is its portability. As with knitting, I can throw my projects in my purse when I head out to meet with fellow crafters. In fact, I think it's better than knitting because it appeals to me year-round. I only get the itch to knit in the fall and winter.

The last thing I want to emphasize is the adaptable nature of embroidery. So far I have embroidered tea towels (like the green towel in top photo), pillow cases, baby bibs and baby blankets, but I haven't even skimmed the surface. I have tentative plans to personalize my clothes, and one day I would like to take on bigger projects to frame. Jenny Hart and Aimee Ray both illustrate the range of possibilities that embroidery allows for: while encouraging and enabling beginners, their websites show us how far you can take the craft. Um, Dolly Parton anyone?

Another short post about my other blog

Hey! I've posted another entry at Things Worth Making. Did I discourage you from commenting last time? I'd love if a couple of you could say something so my professor knows that someone is reading it. Thanks friends!

Also, if you're bored, find out what Barack Obama is up to.

Pictures from a weekend trip to Seattle are coming soon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Making a blog

Welcome to Things Worth Making. I started this blog as part of a directed reading course at the University of Victoria, but now I'm updating it because I love it. I also have a personal blog called Tentative Plans. It's more personal than this one.

UPDATE: I deleted Things Worth Making (I'm trying to simplify my life, yo), and moved all posts to my blog Tentative Plans. All of the posts have been tagged with the label Things Worth Making.

As you might guess from the title of the blog, I write about making things. For now, I will focus on crafts and baking, because that's where my limited expertise lies, but the possibilities are endless! I document my own projects, but I also write about projects that I wish I had time to make and people who are making things that inspire me. I encourage you to leave comments because I want to know how you make things too. Sometimes my friends write about things they make, and if you want to write about something you made, I might post it. Ask me!

This is my first post, so I'll start by telling you the story behind my masthead. My sister has an interest in making things from recycled "garbage," and she recently convinced my Ukrainian Baba to use her crocheting skills for a less traditional project. This is one of the products of their collaboration:

This bag is made out of plastic grocery bags. I decided to use a picture of the bag for my first Things Worth Making masthead because I like the colours and the illusion of texture that it brings to my computer screen. Of course, its personal significance also appeals to me.

I'm not sure where my sister found the pattern, but it wouldn't do you any good anyway because Baba adjusted it as she worked. However, the instructions for a plastic bag tote at Marlo's Crochet Corner look like they produce similar results.

I also found some great patterns that take this medium to another level. I especially like the cosmetic bag crocheted from bread bags and the Rag Bag Tote over at My Recycled Bags.

Gooseflesh has a great tutorial for making plastic bag yarn. While you're there, you need to check out the artwork she makes with the yarn, such as the Crochet Sea Creatures. The creatures highlight the importance of finding coloured plastic bags to liven up your creations - a difficult task when most stores are hardly thinking of these artistic endeavors when they design their white bags.

Please comment if you have some experience with plastic bag yarn or if you want to let me know what you think about my blog. You know how I like comments.

Monday, February 18, 2008

And now: Dentists

When I went to my new Victoria dentist a couple of weeks ago, I reflected on how familiar I am with dentistry, on account of my cavity-prone teeth and three years with braces (I know, I know, orthodontists are different than dentists, but you get my drift). The whole visit to the dentist is a very familiar procedure for me. I don't get stressed out about dentist appointments, but maybe that's a bad thing. If I were scared of dentists, I bet I would floss more often. But instead, I liked my Vancouver dentist - a beautiful Italian woman who isn't much older than me but mothers me all the same - and I like my new dentist - a youngish Swedish man with a serious design aesthetic and a "we're in this together" manner. Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!

Because of my history with cavities, I do get a little nervous about x-ray results, but it's more of a financial concern. Even with my coverage from university, cavities are expensive. The good news is, I don't have any cavities, and my fillings are in fine shape. Dr. John (that's what people call him) even marveled at my beautiful "smile." My mouth was stretched open and he was fussing around with various tools when he said it, but whatever. He's a dentist and he likes my teeth.

There is another reason why this cavity-free diagnosis is worth celebrating: I've been using fluoride-free Aloe Vera toothpaste for the last few years, and I was never quite sure if it was doing anything for my teeth.

I love this toothpaste, even though it's a little pricey. I love the consistency and the taste, and I love that I'm not scared that my toothpaste is hurting my stomach. If you've ever had digestion problems/stomach pain, you get sort of crazy looking for explanations, and toothpaste came up on my radar at some point or another. Now I can rest easy knowing that I am preventing various potential problems by using a natural alternative. High five!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I will drink more tea

My new years resolution/latest tentative plan has a new partner in crime:
I was able to use a gift certificate to buy this new Middle Kingdom tea pot yesterday, and its beauty makes me want to drink tea. Is that good or bad? It also helps that I'm stocked up with some delicious teas: the licorice peppermint is my favorite. The best part about this tea pot is that it can serve more than one person, so I'm ready for company!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Inspiration in the kitchen

I'm mulling over a couple of posts about Cadbury Creme Egg controversies and dentists (complimentary, no?), but they are big subject areas and will take more time than I have right now. Instead, I'll just take a second to tell you about my new favorite cookbook: Fresh: Seasonal Recipes Made with Local Foods by John Bishop.

Recognize the name of the author? He's the owner of Bishop's in Vancouver. I've never been, but now that Michael and I have made a few of the recipes from this book, I want to go!

We have already made the chicken breast with fresh bread crumbs and lemon, the lentil shepherd's pie, the pork and apple meatloaf and the roasted garlic, winter kale and white bean soup. I loved everything. Now I've got tentative plans to make the bread pudding with pears, chocolate and raisins. I predict I will love it too.

As you can see, the book has both meat recipes and vegetarian recipes. That suits us perfectly. Other goodness: the recipes are relatively simple, they are organized by seasons and they emphasize local foods.

You can't borrow it from me right now, because I like it too much, but you can check out the recipe for roasted pears and blue cheese. That will have to do for now.