Monday, December 31, 2012

Tales of Trial and Terror: Going Insane A.K.A. Brooke's Column of Leaves

ARRRGH!

A wonderful group of people have inspired me to think about the upcoming new year, which made me ponder how many people actually go through with their resolutions... and I know I haven't; hell this is the second, maybe third time in my life I have ever really made a new years resolution list.

I digress. As I made the list I put a particular emphasis on crafting a little more than I game; my time is very biased towards gaming currently...
In order to remedy this, I decided I'd start the new year with a project that took more effort, which I concluded to being needle crafts; knitting to be more specific.

In all honesty, I was already knee deep in thought towards needle crafts; I am making a (very belated) Christmas present for my best friend. I was going to embroider her a koi on a loop, and make her an heirloom scarf; the pattern of which, this post is dedicated to...

Brooke's Column of Leaves
Source of Photo / Source for Pattern
 Or should I say Brooke's Nightmare Column of Leaves...

Hindsight tells me I bit off more than I could chew with this pattern, but whispers tell tale that this was a particularly fun and challenging step towards a knitter's education; it made sense, it's not like it was a pair of socks or a sweater! Making a more elaborate scarf seemed liked the best step to take.

The pattern calls for 39 stitches to be cast on. Ok...


Then it says to "Knit about 1 inch of garter stitch edging as follows: (WS) p1, knit across until last stitch, p1
(RS) slip 1, knit across until last stitch, slip 1
Repeat for about 8 rows, or until it is as long as you like. End on a WS row."


Right...
Numbers to clarify I still ended up with 39 stitches.

The problem I have does not lie with the majority... mine is so baffling that my mind simply whirls with insane frustration. It begins with the first row of the pattern:
Row 1 (RS): slip 1, k2, SKP, yo, k2, p2, K7, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, p1, yo, k1, yo, SKP, k7, p2, SKP, yo, k4, slip 1 
(You will have 41 stitches on your needle at the end of this row, and at the end of all RS rows.)

And so I begin, until I come to the last SKP of the first row (every damn time), and realize I do not have enough stitches to complete yo, k4, slip 1... the most puzzling of all this is that I end up with 41 stitches, just like the pattern said I would... what what?!

Believing that despite missing more than a couple stitches, but still having 41 I should still continue. Alas, as my swatch grew it was apparent that it wasn't going to work.

So, then I figured what the hell, I'll work on 45 stitches CO, and I completed the first and second row seamlessly and it seemed at then that the pattern was wrong... but nope, the third till eighth had too many remaining stitches.

After clearing my needle and starting over numerous times, I am losing a little hope each time...
I really want to make this scarf; it is not going to triumph over me like the cable knit has!

P.S. I am a English style knitter... so the continental video directions bewilder me.


Will our hero make it out?! Stay tuned till the next episode of...
Tales of Trial and Terror!



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rest In Peace, Little Taz

Three days ago today, my husband's beloved cat of 14 years passed away.

The holidays came round and we had to make the tough decision to leave our cats in someone else's care. It was very tragic, but we felt his time was very close, since he lost his apetite and lost weight rapidly the week before; we suspected he had cancer.
When we came home we found he had passed on snuggled in his favorite spot where he lay faithfully every day by my husband's feet. We deducted that he simply went to sleep and didn't wake up. Their care-taker during our weekend told us that he was alive the day before we returned home-- it was our only regret that we could not say goodbye properly.

Rest in peace, Taz.

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Sewing Machine Cover

This is dedicated to seamsters who have, or ever has had a kitten.
Cute... cuddly... destructive, kittens.



Sweet and nice; always posing as you audibly gush.
Until you pan your eyes over and discover why they're buttering you up...

Admittedly not as bad as it seems... still not fun to undo...

Suddenly you're not amused.

Yep. Poe has discovered how to jump, and has acquainted himself with my serger's plethora of provocative threads. This is just the beginning; I can see it now, rethreading my serger every morning... the horror... the horror!

Before he was able to jump, he would continually gnaw on all the cords; being tech lovers, we have plenty of those in every nook and cranny of our home. Our neighbor suggested threading the cords through toilet and paper towel rolls to prevent him from doing it. Its worked perfectly!

Now it was my sewing machines turn to meet the wrath of Poe. To combat the forthcoming battle of the threads, I decided to make all new covers for my machines, though instead of using the plastic cover that came with only one of my sewing machines, I decided I'd tweak it and make a pattern from it to create matching covers for both machines. Since I have enough halloween fabric to go around a few projects, I decided I'd use it exclusively for the new motif of my craft room: Halloween kitsch!

While helping out with Community Club stuff, I was given tiny jack 'o lantern candy buckets; no bigger than a tangerine. I figured they'd make great pin pots near my machines; with Halloween stickers on their way from my stash back in Canada, I wanted to stick them all over my machines.

Stuff them with scrap felt (as shown) or just keep them hollow (like I will probably do)

Those two notions (zing!... a seamster would get it...) coupled with having that fabric laying around sparked together and created that wonderful idea!

Though it was aptly countered by Victorian Funeral Parlour....
Still, if (or when, I should say) the latter idea eventually becomes realized, someone will become the lucky owner of this one of a kind collection.

Ta da!

Ok ok... so I changed my mind about using the candy corn fabric on the cover... but you'll see where it'll fit in soon!



I wanted the applique skull to have a subtle detail, so I used the fabric-- it was going all fine and dandy until my machine decided in the middle of it that it didn't like the thickness of the heat-n-bond I was using and it jumped on the top left of the head.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Purple Pants Revamp

I love to revamp clothing almost as much as I love creating them from scratch. It's a fun little thing to do when I don't feel like drafting patterns and feel like having something new to me.

During my trip down to Phoenix, my boi and I stumbled upon a shop that was having a blowout sale of their summer clothing, and there in the window hung purple pants. We bought them, and I seriously debated keeping them just purple... but the urge for a good pair of stripe pants inevitably won. I've seen numerous tutorials, and suggestions on how to achieve these; so it won't be hard to google your favorite technique if you tried this yourself.


In my zeal I purchased a bottle of fabric spray paint, not realizing that I picked up Stencil Spray over Simple Spray. If you've ever used either product you'll know the difference; if you've never used either; Stencil Spray goes on rather thick and stays rather patent even after a wash or two; Simple Spray conforms the softness of the material and is relatively matte; it is essentially a dye, but in spray form... pretty handy, albeit a bit spendy. I had coupons from Joann's, though.

Despite ending up with a stiff pair of pants, I still enjoy the shiny results; they add more character to a staple (trite?) idea.

It's not really that uneven on the back; it's just the way I posed.
I hope with a bit of time and lots of wear, they will soften up some; they may fade and that's fine; it might even look better when they're slightly distressed.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: I'm dreaming of...

A remodeled craft room.

What did you think I was going to say?

After seeing Michelle's post on Crafts For Misfits, it really began to bug me how completely uninspiring my own craft room is. I mean UGH... it's not conducive to crafty thoughts at all... it's haphazard, but most of all... it's bland, save for a few pieces of cherished wall candy. I need a space I can be proud of, and badly!

I found an article featuring an artist's space, and I fell in love with how it looked despite not being darkly themed in the least (article here). I began fantasizing about my dream space, and how I would so love to have a crafting shed; I thought about it for a couple years, and thanks to Pinterest (still learning how to use it) I was able to gather heaps of mind-candy.

I've wanted a craft shed that appeared run down; like a decrepit and rusted old house and I found an image that nearly matched my own mental image

Credit: unknown
Although instead of green shingles and a white pain job, it would be "old" distressed wood, greyish in color, and rusted metal shingles... and it would be as large as the one in the article.

But sadly, I don't foresee this little day dream becoming a reality any time soon. We don't even know where we'll end up, since my husband's work can literally take us anywhere in the country where there is a National Park office.

So, down a tier, I am hoping to remodel (if you can really call it that) my current craft room.
I found a nifty and free room planner by Icovia and with it I began my vagary:

Room Dimension
That large white block on the eastern wall is a window; you can also see where the outlets and switches are... yeah, it's about shed size-- it's a spare bedroom!

Current Layout
This screen shot was taken first and before I figured out how to use the display measurements and insert structural details, such as the door and window etc... heh.
In that odd nook, which used to be a large closet but I removed the doors off of, is my shelf of fabric. The ironing board literally sits in front of the door to the water heater, but I didn't think it prudent to add it in since the board is normally tucked away in the nook, or can be easily moved aside. It also sits in front of the entrance to the room... so that may be a little confusing. Then you have my totally wonky, but realistcally shaped table; its purpose serves only as a cutting table. On that little circular thing in the corner is where my serger resides; it is just a bar stool with a tool box liner so it won't shift. Next to that is a not so stable little side desk where my sewing machine sits. Finally you have my modest computer desk and bookshelf.

The odd thing, as I was saying in Michelle's post, is that my room not only looks small but it feels small too... and yet, as I look at my floor plan, I realize I have committed a small space sin! I do have space... I just haven't utilized its true potential.

Ideal set up: take one

It's late, and I didn't want to spend all night toying with all the possibilities (though it was tempting). Those things that look more like typewriters (that's what they really are icons for) I used as substitutes for my serger and sewing machines. The hutch in the NW corner would be really nice (for a tv and movies), but in all likelihood that is where the shelf beside it will be, my future dress form and a small shelf. As you can see, I've placed my computer in the nook, which will do nicely because I can really put to use the upper shelving in the closet for my plethora of books when they're shipped down.

So what do you dream/plan on remodeling?



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Skeleton Closet: Catching Up + Monthly Theme

It's barely the start of December and already things have been awful busy-- but at least they are fun.

The boi and I spent this past week in Phoenix, thanks to his work; he worked, while I got to explore parts of Phoenix I have never known about, and probably would never discover if it wasn't for the recently implemented light rail.
Anyway, it was still fair and warm down in the valley so while I couldn't really wear my more heavier outfits, it was still cool enough that I could sport all black without my parasol.

We arrived home yesterday, and I came online to find that I have fallen behind with all the blogs I follow!
Still, it's not as though there was any urgency... I just feel a little out of the loop.
I figured I'd kick off this week by participating in Sophistique Noir's monthly theme (which I haven't partaken in before).

Lucky enough, this is one theme I really enjoy! Long maxi style skirts are a staple element in my wardrobe; it's a shame I have switched to such drastic warm weather, and sadly as it's gone, I don't have my entire favorite collection present. I've already sported a couple in past posts, so this time I wanted to show one I haven't used yet;


I found it thrift, and it easily became a favorite. I am also wearing the new coffin purse I was in the midst of creating in my former post. I used it exclusively this past week, and it held up perfectly to all the bumps and scuffs public transit and walking dealt out.



What I am Wearing:
  • Skirt: Thrift
  • Jacket: Fairweather Co.
  • Waist belt: Fairweather Co.
  • Shoes: Flea Market
  • Necklace: Self-made
  • Purse: Self-made


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Handbag Craze

My old bag has lost its luster... I have been looking fervently for something that brings back some pizzazz... and the only bag that piqued my interest was the ribcage purse from Restyle... I'm sure many of you have seen it, but if not, then have a look for yourself here.

I love things with rib cage imagery, but alas... no money has stopped me dead in my tracks once more.
So once again I took a dive into the creative abyss I call my brain...
I needed black, I needed lace, I needed something "gothy"!

So, my lovely readers, I give you a peek  of what I have been conjuring... it's really more of a peak, but anyway...


Now it's not finished! I still need to add that last strip of venetian lace on the top, and secure what looks like a white blob in that picture, but is really a resin replica bat skull.


It's going to be nestled in between the ribbon flowers.
I didn't have to spend a dime on a single item, since most of it was hand me down materials or scraps from other projects... this project made me realize how unorganized I really am. I really had to dig deep to find it all. It's sorta, kinda lined... the inside material is patterned, but it isn't exactly a lining that hides seams (oops!). Next time it will.

But anyway, this was a trial bag to test out my pattern before the real treat... I'll still post pictures of the finished bag! So don't you worry.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Two Legged Wardrobe Evolution

*Updated with new photos*

The people who know me, or at least met me more than once will see that I very rarely wear pants/trousers... or whatever two legged clothing pieces; I own one pair of wide leg yoga pants that can easily be worn outside without committing a serious faux pas. In total I have 5, if you count leggings and pj pants; 2 leggings, and 3 pj pants... but you'll never catch me wearing the other two pj's, unless you see me at the mailbox outside of the house.

Anyway, I digress.

Since my simplicity-sew-along had to be postponed due to the lack of funds to purchase the remaining yardage, I decided I'd dive into another long awaited project. Bloomers! Which would mark a very important point in time for my wardrobe; the day I start wearing something other than skirts. <insert shock and awe>.


I'm a bit rusty when it comes to the flat pattern drafting of pants... in fact, flat pattern drafting in general is so rusty in me the gears take much effort to crank. Thankfully, bloomers are a very forgiving and super basic style... my mistakes won't be so profoundly obvious if I make them.

Drafting fitted capris and then widening.

I was not in the mood at all to lay out my satin sheet to cut it in order to make these bloomers... call it feelin' lazy, or not wanting to deal with two hyper inquisitive cats not letting me work on the floor.

No, those aren't stains; the odd blotches are part of it
I dug through my hand-me-down fabric given to me by my husband's colleague and took out the most... interesting (yeah, let's go with that) printed polyester silk fabric.
The picture is the wrongside, it has a slight sheen on the right side; I am not sure why I went with all of this at all, to be honest... the very fact it was a form of silk should have deterred me from even attempting to work with it, but even so I used the right side for the right side. So I guess this rules out boredom, because while I still breezed through it, using cotton or some other sturdier material would've made this exponentially quicker.

Poe is feeling up to the challenge, too

Regardless of how I initially felt about the material, I was quite surprised how well it worked as a bloomer.
It's still not my taste, but I can see them easily worked into a steampunk or carnival ensemble. I would like to sell them; it's all complete, each seam is serged and finished. Made to sit on top of the hip at 32 inches (approx. 81 cm), but can comfortably expand up to about 38 inches (approx. 97 cm). The length is about 18  inches (approx. 46 cm) including the ruffle, and sits at knee length on someone 5 ft tall. I'm selling them cheaper than I would normally, so get them while they are available!
If any of you are interested in them please email me with inquiries at: mari.mortem@gmail.com




Monday, November 12, 2012

Skeleton Closet: Down to the Bone

A couple nights ago we had our first snowfall for the year.
It left me feeling awful nostalgic about the weather back North; remembering how the chill blew through my layers and how it reminded me that my veins flow with warm blood despite what others have insinuated about my essence.


True, the warmth is often impeded by an icy cluster of sharp peaks and a chilled demure, but where my actions lack comfort, the seemingly unabated beating of my heart cradles the core of me; bright with silent optimisms.

I remind myself often that others should be so lucky to have my life; to have a predictable relationship; to know that debt can be handled with no sacrifices to essentials such as food or shelter-- this simple acknowledgement inevitably coerces me into each day.
And yet, its become exponentially difficult to cope with the painful erosion of my quintessence due largely in part by apathy; like watching the mercurial ooze of lava down a mountainside; beautiful but profoundly destructive.

They say a quick remedy to such melancholia is to doll up, and that's exactly what I did today for no other reason than to abate my stubborn gloom.



What I am wearing:
  • Glow in the dark ribcage t-shirt: Wal-mart
  • Suit jacket: Thrifted
  • Skirt: Thrifted
  • Opaque tights
  • Boots: K-mart
  • New prescription sunglasses
  • Bandana: Walmart
  • Scarf: Self-made

I used this combination of tutorials to style my hair:


Faux Beehive: Here

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Blue Minds Need Busy Hands

In a last ditch effort to rid myself of the post Halloween blues, I decided I better get crafting!

A couple weeks ago I began a sew along with a friend choosing to do a most coveted pattern Simplicity had to offer, but had put off posting pictures until today:

I was going straight for the coat. However, I really wasn't feeling it as much as I wanted... hence the tissue paper; I was going to redraft/ redesign it a little differently; adding a hood and making the sleeves belled.

This is the mock up (in hideous mock fabric)

Craft rooms are always messy; this is fact.
I had procrastinated working on it and had been inspired the little chilly air we're receiving using it to produce some wintery items, and didn't notice that in my arrogance I thought maybe I had enough velvet to complete the coat... but no, in shame I hang my head... I clearly underestimated how much was needed!
As a note, if you're going to make this in stretch velvet there are two things you should consider: the pile (the direction of the velvet) and the bias (the way it stretches-- 4 way it doesn't matter a whole ton). In cases such as these I prefer to cut my pieces on single layer, lest either of those factors go awry-- either way, what this means is that you'll need to buy more fabric than what is initially suggested, and whether you like it or not, there will probably be a lot more scraps then what you're used to. I was off by about 2 yards... not sure how I calculated such a gross error-- maybe my mind was tired at the time...

I've been feeling blue, and Halloween and other such gaiety helped marginally; coupled with a savage streak of insomnia, I've not been at my best... though I try to keep that smile beaming.

The other projects of wintery inspiration were that of knitted goods.
My mother sent me my looms bought months ago and never used, and I figured it was as good a time as any to try.

First up was my french knitter:


It seems like such an easy concept to grab, but the night I was using it I was getting mighty frustrated that I wasn't achieving the result I wanted... so I tore out the project in anger, only to discover a happy accident.
In tearing out the little tube I had unwittingly created a nifty necklace. The stretched loops with single beads made for a delicate web-like adornment for myself. Oh and as a bonus you get to have a looksie at those vintage frames I've been waiting for:

3-tier
4-tier
Grouped

Next I decided to see how quickly and how much of a change from needle to loom knitting would do to a final project.

Left is loom knit: right is needle knit
It is exponentially quicker to knit on a loom than it is needle knit; both of the scarves shown are 6'2". I'd like to point out that I am not very prolific when it comes to knitting, so the needle knit scarf took me about a week to complete; working on it once a day in 2-3 hour increments. The way I loom knit was using the common twisted stockinette, yielding an interesting and bulky criss-cross look; it took me 2 days in the same hourly increments.



However, I would still probably use needles because I much prefer the exercise in the use of both hands working, unless I find a comfortable way to work with one peg side of the looms; which I hear can create the same look of said needle knitted stockinette stitching.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: A Time For Celebration!

So before I get started, I'd like to wish you all a merry Samhain and a happy Halloween!

Source


Since 13 of you rung my bell, it's time to announce the winner of my treat! 
And so the winner is...

Printscreen of Random Generator Results...


Boo! ...no really, Boo... what are the odds that that worked in as a trick, too? Let's just chock that up to happenstance.
Anyway.
I'll be contacting you asap, requesting all the pertinent information.
On my next giveaway (100 watchers), I'll be using Rafflecopter since I have a pretty good understanding of how it works now.

OK!
Yesterday was the birthday of my very significant other. It was made extra special for the fact that it was the first birthday I was able to attend since our 6 years being together; being long distance for so long hardly afforded the luxuries of getting together whenever we wanted. I decided to throw him a little get together with friends.
Much merriment was had by those that attended our small little gathering... my very lovely neighbor and I baked a delicious cheesecake for the birthday boy-- which I then decorated with spooky joy!

With a skull candy border!
Originally I was thinking of cutting the shape into a bat and then cover it with black sprinkles... but then it would've been much too small of a cake. I didn't have a ton of time to work with since we did it the day of.. so I cheated a little. Maybe next year!





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Hacked and Slashed

One of my lovely neighbors gave me a shirt some time ago, and for a time it sat in my project pile; not knowing what to do with it.

It hit me, as I was sketching a death head moth, that I don't have a single piece of clothing or jewelry that really shows my love for this critter. What better way then bleach art, I say! I could've easily just have used fabric paint and made a print... but I love the grungy rust-like look that bleaching lends.

I also found this as an opportunity to try a couple techniques that I've seen floating around youtube for t-shirt reconstruction: weaving, and skull cut out.

Here's the final result:




And here is how the shirt looked like before, and some in progress photos:

Before Reconstruction

Taking it in a couple notches

My sketch, and figuring out positioning

Chalking the skull to the back


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