Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Tidying up and Some Organizing

Taxes are done but I do need to gather up my copies and documents into a manila envelop for filing away, and tossing what doesn't need to be kept. There's always shredding to do as well - old bills and things no longer needing to be kept from the oldest tax file as I add the most recent one to the file box. But that can be done in bits and pieces. I got distracted when on the computer and decided it was high time to do some organizing of my photos, moving some into files and deleting others. These are the sorts of things I put off but irritate me whenever I access my two main photo files - one where I download pics off my camera or the internet and one where I temporarily put photos I've readied to upload to the blog before moving them into more permanent files. Both become a cluttered mess if I don't keep up with deleting and moving to appropriate files. Think of it the same as the piles of clutter on my worktable. However, one type of filing I do seem to keep up with is the organization of what I print out in the course of making books. I have two books made with those disks that allow you to add and remove pages, one for the monthly bookbinding instructions and one for the challenges and extra info like how to make bookcloth. Besides printing off directions and what the sample book looks like, I also like to print out any books others in the group have made with ideas I think I'd like to incorporate should I make the book again. There in the picture above is the latest challenge instructions and inspirational books duly put away.

This left me with a couple of quick finishes I've been putting off but will help with clearing off work spaces. In the course of going through the fabric stack that came off the floor when I had the rug cleaned, I ran across a few of these hot glue medallions I made back in 2019. Really liked the idea, wasn't sure how to use them. But the one I'd painted with the muted violet paint said, "How would I look on the cover of that "First Journal Challenge" book? I'd always thought it needed something, so auditioned the medallions, letting each sit for at least a day's worth of considering before settling on the violet one which picked up the same undertones as in the wrinkles across the paper. Wasn't sure about how to attach it (was NOT going to fiddle with my hot glue gun) and defaulted to PVA glue. If it doesn't hold up, I can always try something else.

And then there was the closure on the 2nd Celtic Weave Journal. I'd run the choices past members of the Handmade Book Club and of those who responded, all went for the wide flat elastic over the narrow green one. I was leaning that way too and felt it would attach well without leaving any lumps. First off was determining how far to cut the slits from the top and side. And of course, I cut the slits in the flap instead of the cover - I've been making all sorts of small mistakes like that lately. Fortunately, the unevenness of the handmade paper camouflaged the cuts which were on the inside anyway. Then I inserted the ends of the elastic (see arrows), securing them with Fabri-Tac.

Now I could cut pieces of double sided Scor-Tape to length to attach the flaps to make packets. Here the protective paper is ready to be peeled off.

And here is the flap folded over, adhered top and bottom to make the flap.

This is essentially the same type of closure as on my commercially made book I'm currently using for quotations. I like that the elastic does not go totally around the book.

And the elastic really does match the color of the leaves embedded in the paper. I may have made the elastic a bit snug, but I do know how elastic tends to give over time, and this is a book I think I will be adding to over many years.

I did spend some time yesterday on the resolution word art journal spread, trying to do some blending with paint and adding a few more strips of paper here and there. I'd like to get it finished up because I am taking another one of Laly Mille's free five day classes starting next week, more practice in collaging, and instead of using 4 individual small pieces of watercolor paper as she suggests, I think I will just work in this large art journal. It's a good deadline for something I think I have dawdled over too long. I definitely got stuck in that "awkward teenage stage" and can tell I am still struggling with not wanting to cover things up once on the page. But I think I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday and am eager to proceed with my most recent thoughts. Will share when finished!

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Bonnet & Sock

Did you all have a lovely Easter weekend? I sure hope so. We had beautiful warm weather that enticed me out for longer than usual walks and gave me an opportunity to try out, not exactly an Easter Bonnet, but a new hat for hiking. I don't usually buy hats without trying them on first, but this one looked good in the catalogue and is made from a UV protective fabric rather than straw like my other hats. Really wanted something for between stocking hats/ear warmers and straw hats. Not keen on the straight-on view but it probably looks fine to anyone else and the wide brim give good protection.

And for Sunday brunch, I'd succumbed to these luscious looking walnut caramel cinnamon rolls from my grocery store's bakery. They were just as good as they looked.
Taxes are getting there, wrapping up the Federal ones that I do with TurboTax software. They made a lot of changes in how it looks moving from screen to screen and a specific change in one part where I have to manually add information on my many investment transactions, the main reason I use tax software. These are the redemptions that provide what I live on each month, otherwise I probably wouldn't have to file at all. Anyway, I ended up on the website to discover others were questioning how to enter info as we've always entered it and that they'd been unable to file because of this obvious bug. The complaints ran through February but the issue had since apparently been fixed. Once I learned where to enter my info, I had no problems getting through to the end, which left me thinking, sometimes procrastination actually pays off! Now on to the state taxes which are simple enough not to need software help.

And yes, I was still procrastinating through the week, to the point I picked up the sock knitting again. I was farther along when I last put it down than I remembered so it wasn't long until I was binding off and hoping that I didn't do that too soon, that both socks were the same length. So much dawdling, so many frustrating moments, so many mistakes had left me with very mixed feelings about these socks. I do like them, generally speaking, just not how I had to make them.

The directions did say the starting tail thread at the toe might need to be pulled up to close holes. And yes, I have a hole to fix in the toe.

But there are also holes in the heel-turn to fix (down by my thumb and to the left of my finger where the stitches make a right angle turn). I don't think I ever "got" exactly what was going on there with the stitch used to increase and decrease to make the turn.

However, I do like the 2 x 2 ribbing, and they sure are warm and comfy. I want to make the knee high version because I think with that ribbing they would stay up well. I even stopped by one of the yarn shops in the area to see what was available in sock yarn, commiserating with the owner over my struggles, only to have her say, "And you're going to make another pair with this pattern?" Well, yes and no. I've already perused other patterns with different ways to start at the toe and turn the heel (yes, when I should have been working on taxes!), and will substitute a different method when the time comes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Racing, Skating and Taxes

As the weekend neared, I was surprised to find that two of the three motorcycle roadracing series that I follow had rounds scheduled AND that World Figure Skating Championships would also be broadcast. Hours of racing to watch, hours of figure skating to watch, over 3 days. So much for making progress on the Rails quilt! It also dawned on me that the deadline for submitting tax returns is quickly approaching and I'd not done a thing except load the tax software that I use. Believe it or not, I did get a little work done on the taxes while listening to pre and post race commentary, but really need to focus on it this week. Oh, and it's the end of the month and there are a few bills to pay and budgeting figures to work out, so I don't think much studio time will get squeezed in. However, I did run across this new Zentangle that I really wanted to add to my "Just Add Red" sketchbook and decided I may as well spend a little time with it this afternoon. Sometimes you have to take a moment to treat yourself. I intend to add one or two more lines of what they have named "Puppy Hugs" intertwining behind this one before doing the shading. This tangle looks good at several stages so the behind ones will probably be partials of the main one. Instead of the Micron pens I usually use, I've chosen these Uniball Air pens because the red one works so well in this sketchbook.

What, if anything, has been keeping you away from your studio?

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Starting on Rails

It's been a really long time since I bought quilting fabric, even longer since I bought any specifically for a project. But here I am, looking for inspiration for a quilt to go to my goddaughter's latest baby, and I find it in two places: An AQS pattern called Rainbow Rails and a new line of Moda fabric with Noah's Ark theme at my local quilt shop. You can spot the two designs I picked from the line peeking out from under the pinks I mentioned a month ago that had me all in a tizzy and confused. But living with them out like that for so long has helped me calm down and see what is going to work. The more muted pinks go better with the raindrops fabric on the left, the blue fabric in the middle has animals and will be the backing. I ended up getting 3 yds each of the new fabric, unsure of which would be backing and which background, and got it washed and ironed, along with the batiks in the last post, over the weekend. Straining my brain to remember how I set my newer washing machine, digging out the Synthropal, reminding myself how to use Retayne on the batiks. It really has been a long time.

EQ layout print out, Original AQS pattern directions, Graph paper cutting guide

So Saturday was National Quilting Day - did you remember? Did you devote any time to quilting? - and getting started on this quilt was how I planned to spend it, but the fabric prep took up so much time I didn't even get any cutting done as I'd hoped. But because I needed to make changes to the Rainbow Rails pattern to turn it from a big quilt to a smaller one, I was on my own in terms of cutting dimensions and number of pieces and blocks. Another thing I haven't done in ages is use my EQ software to help size things and decide on a layout. But I soon got the hang of it and printed out two versions along with its estimates of fabric requirements. In the end, I decided on a reduced size block of 12 inches set 3 x 4. The raindrops fabric that will be background/sashing/borders is directional so I opted to get out graph paper to determine how best to cut the longest strips since some will run parallel to the selvage while others will run selvage to selvage. It just felt like it would be working in the dark if I didn't do this and now I can confidently start cutting. Not sure if I'll mix in another color other than pink like I did in the mock-up but do like how that looks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Getting There

Tiny needles, thin thread, slow progress . . . this second sock is taking forever even though I am now past the heel turn and into a steady knit two purl two ribbing. I pick it up in the evenings when watching certain tv shows that don't require my eyes to be locked onto the screen but many evenings I find I'm too tired to move from the couch to the big leather chair with the good lighting to work on it. Ah well, eventually . . .  In the meantime, I keep running across sock knitters who talk of blocking their socks when done. Somehow I don't feel the need but there must be a reason. So with nothing better to do, I started searching for sock blockers that would accommodate knee highs since I plan my next pair to be a pair of those. Such a wide range of blockers are available but all short with one exception. These birch blockers with free customization were a bit pricey but since they come from Ukraine, I decided to splurge. My name and logo are burned into the birch, and the length of the foot can be adjusted for many sizes. I am pleased!

I'm about ready to dive into the baby quilt. My ironing board is functional as an ironing board again and half of the work table cleared of bookmaking projects etc. so I can get that new fabric washed and ironed and start cutting. While I'm at it, I'm planning on washing the last fabric splurge I made back before I started having physical issues keeping me from sewing - they were one more thing I'd left on the floor and never got around to tending to. One is a batik with mariner compasses on it that I thought I could pair with one of the specialty fat quarters - why I didn't want to put either away. Maybe I'll finally get them together. Three or four spotted batiks which I've always loved, reminding me of water and were on sale. A dark brown solid that I thought might bleach interestingly. A rusty orange batik that I thought could work into one of my nature-inspired art quilts. Time to get them washed and into the stash.

Speaking of art quilts, Ellen Anne Eddy recently described art in conjunction with her work with some students. Ellen was quite prominent in the quilting world when I landed in Wisconsin in the early 1990's and discovered what a hotbed of quilting the Midwest was. My late friend Judi somehow knew so many of these quilters who taught and hung out at quilt shows and Ellen was one she introduced me to as we queried her about dyeing fabric. I'm not a particular fan of her heavily thread painted nature pieces, but she knows her stuff and is a delightful person still. Here is what she said:

"I run into a lot of people who tell me they aren’t artists. Usually, that’s because they’re more verbal than visual. If you talk with them they can explain their images and the concepts in a way that brims with art.  Perhaps the problem is how do we define art?. If it has to be set in a mold, like figure drawing, or landscapes, that’s a pretty big limit on a much wider world. But if art is, vision out of chaos., order out of disaster, and the creation of beauty and sense in the retelling of ourselves., that may be where my definition hovers. Art is life. The way we live creates our own beauty, our own songs, soothes our worst fears, and helps us to see ourselves in a different mirror that focuses on our strengths and beauty, instead of our failures and misgivings. Art simply flows out of that. The things we produce our wonderful. But they are largely the byproduct of the process of restructuring who we are through our imagery. These kids already have it. I believe we all do, from birth."

You can see some of the kids' beginnings of their fabric art on Ellen's blog post here as well as read more about the project.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Mistakes Were Made . . .

As I sat down on Tuesday to write this blog post, my internet went down and stayed down until this morning. Thus the lateness of this post; always amazes me how it throws me off whenever I can't keep to my normal internet routine. I did find ways to fill the time, of course, including more tidying of the studio and some housework I've been avoiding. You'd think I might have spent some time knitting on my sock but I was giving it a rest after working last week getting the heel turned on sock two. I'd struggled on sock one with the method used in my pattern directions and struggled again even though I had a better understanding of what I was doing. Mistakes were made that left a couple of holes in the knitting, but rather than unraveling what I'd done to the bad spot, I just fixed it with a bit of "darning" from the inside. After all, these socks are not gifts so I can live with the imperfections and my fixes. But onward to finishing up the Celtic Weave journal, where I discovered another mistake made. I didn't notice it until I'd sewn almost half the signatures together with the outside link stitches. Look closely at the above photo (or click for a larger view) and you will see in the center 3 sets of holes in the middle of each signature. There should only be two. I know not how I managed to mark my template with the two holes for the weaving offset from center by so much. I simply could not live with it so I added a hole that made the weaving space longer but at least centered. Yes, you CAN punch additional holes in a signature after it is sewn into the spine.

I was hoping that the threads crossing over would hide the extra holes but they did not. My signatures are a bit thicker I think than the ones on the first journal so the weaving isn't as compressed. I like that it shows up better even if it doesn't cover the extra holes. And I'm not unhappy with the extra width; I think the stitching looks very balanced. I worked a bit at encouraging the holes to close with some success, but like the socks, I'm glad this is not a gift; I can live with this imperfection, as well as the fact that the lines printed on the pages do not line up along the spine. I seldom remember to think about how the signatures will look on these open spine bindings. In this case, I really struggled with trimming the pages to size, my paper cutter forcing me to reduce the number of pages cut at a time (which accounts for lines not lining up) and still not giving me clean cuts many times. I trimmed the fore edges with a rotary cutter and struggled with that too, the pages within the folded signatures shifting inside leaving me with uneven cuts. Seriously, the signatures turned out a mess which I could mostly but not entirely clean up. Sigh. I blame it all on the paper, although I've used it before and don't remember having these issues.

But it is done, or almost, a chunky 5 x 6-3/4 book for quotations. I did fold the covers to leave a rather large flap on front and back which I will glue at top and bottom so it functions like a pocket.

But before doing that, I'm considering adding an elastic closure like what is on my current quotation book, running vertically along the fore edge rather than horizontally around the middle (and in doing so, covering up the weaving stitch). The chunkiness of the signatures coupled with the soft cover seem to demand that and the flap can hide where it comes through the back cover. But what should I use? I could use this bright green narrow elastic.

Or I could use this wider decorative flat elastic which has a bit of glitz to it but goes well with the handmade paper of the cover. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Another Book and a Solution

When I cut the covers for this Celtic Weave Journal, I had an approximately 7 inch wide strip of the handmade paper left, enough I hoped that I could make a smaller Celtic Weave Journal for myself. That was near the end of August last year, and yes, I'd left it out on the worktable along with instructions, signature paper, needles and linen thread thinking I would get to it long before now. It is the last thing I need to work on to clear enough space to get started on the overdue baby quilt. The strip is actually not long enough to make front and back covers in the same manner as in the original book, but over the months I had an epiphany; I could make the covers like in the Butterfly Binding where the folded in side that will be between signatures is narrow instead of having to be as wide as the front of the cover. Now to decide just how that will work, what the width of the folds and ultimate size of signatures would be. Here I am experimenting with that by folding a piece of copy paper in various ways.

The paper I wanted to use is a 24 lb Ivory "Granite" Specialty paper by Southworth (bought on extreme markdown at Staples). The size paper I need to turn into my signatures is approximately 10 x 7 inches, preferably short grain since it will be folded in half to make 5 x 7 signatures. But normal 8-1/2 x 11 paper is long grain, meaning it folds with ease along its length, not so much crosswise. But 24 lb paper is relatively thin and I've folded similar against the grain to make signatures without much problem. I'd also been toying with the idea of printing lines on the pages, starting to think of how I could create a line document to print within the size of the pages once trimmed. I don't always know how I will use the books I make, but when I do have a particular use in mind, it motivates me even more. So as I mused, I realized this would make a great replacement book for one nearly full that I use for recording poems and quotations. Starting to get excited! More musings as I walk (where I do some of my best problem solving) about how to get lines printed since that use for the book really does require them, when I remembered a line pdf supplied by the book club. I checked and, since I have to trim down these pages anyway, I can make it work. There's my stack of printed pages ready to trim and fold into my signatures.

Frankly, there was a lot of puttering going on last week before I got busy on the book. I've been reticent to tackle the stack of fabrics on the ironing board but really they must go if I'm to work on a quilt, As I peeled them back to reveal so many beautiful fat quarters I've dyed, I knew why they had ended up on the floor. I didn't want to fold any of them up (I've had issues in the past getting creases out of fabric that has been folded and stored one on top of the other) and even if I did, I didn't really know how to "file" them. Then another epiphany: they could easily be clipped to hangers and remain flat. I've done it before and can't imagine why that hadn't occurred to me earlier.

There were also big yardage of Stonehenge fabrics I'd bought for a particular project, again, wanting to leave them as flat as possible because I was using such large pieces in work, and might well use them in other art quilts as they are the kind of thing that worked well with my nature pieces. But that project is long done, and I can't imagine any project that will call for them soon so I did do a fold in half so they would fit in the wire cubes where my batiks and hand-dyes reside. Next layer had some really small pieces (on the left of the ironing board) that I think came from friend Judi's stash - again I probably didn't want to fold them up and hide them away and didn't really know how to logically file them in the space I had anyway. Still have to figure that out, but with just a few more fat quarters to hang, I'm well on my way to having a functional ironing board again and a little more organizing complete.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

More Collage

I had started a spread in my big art journal before I was tapped to make the Scrappy Journal, which ironically would also include collaging. Although I was eager to work on my journal page, I thought of it as good practice, a trial run before I got to that part in my art journal. The theme for the page is my resolution word: organize. Laly Mille who I'd taken a class from, was art journaling her resolution word, and in running across a picture of a clock, I thought of my wish to organize my time and was inspired to do the same. Art journaling has two worthwhile components in my book. The page can be a place to experiment with new media, tools and techniques, and in the process of composing the collage it can unlock feelings, emotions and more, just like writing in a journal can, only here you are exploring visually. Laly often does written journaling on the page in pencil before anything else which I find helpful in focusing my mind on what it is I want to accomplish with this page or maybe just what I'm feeling at the moment. With that done, time to start covering the page. I started with laying down some watercolor paint with nothing particular in mind.

I started with watercolor because I wanted to conduct an experiment. I knew what happens when you scatter salt over fabric or paper that is wet with dye or paint. The salt sucks the color to it and you can get some interesting patterning. I'd read that you could do the same with what's in those packets that come in some many things to keep things dry. One of my medications comes with a rather large packet so I have quite a few saved waiting for the experiment. I was surprised to find that they are actually filled with tiny balls. Look closely at the above photo and you should be able to spot some that haven't drawn up any color. The "dots" are ones that definitely have.

And when brushed off, they do leave a bit of patterning on the paper, not as much as I'd hoped but there just the same. Now I know.

With the Scrappy Journal done, I could pull out this spread again, along with the things I'd set aside to collage on it. I'm finally dipping more into my stash of security envelops and chose blue ones as I want to keep this spread light and positive. Was so excited when I ran across large text reading "Getting Organized" which I amended to "Get Organized". "New Year" and the colorful strips of balls and stars are from a New Year's card I received after Christmas (some people just admit they will not get their greetings out before Christmas!). The lined memo paper needs me to add those things I want to get organized but other than not, not sure what the next step should be. I'm pretty happy with it right now, but just like in quilting when I hesitate to add the final step of quilting for fear of ruining what I've already done, I'm hesitant to try blending with paint or other things even though I know it needs something to make it even better and bring the whole thing together. It can sit while I ponder and do some more straightening and organizing in the studio.

Speaking of which, my goddaughter asked the other day how the organizing was going and I have to admit it's going slowly, still dragging my feet about where things should go if not on the floor. Bits and pieces are finding either a new home and where they should have gone in the first place. I'm trying to be more disciplined about putting things away as soon as I am done with them rather than my usual habit of leaving them on the worktable pushed aside for "later". It really is a helpful habit to get into. But I am making some disturbing finds, like the silk tie fabric from one floor stack that I really can't remember why I wanted to leave it out. Or more disturbing, while rearranging the small stacking bins I keep under the worktable and looking through the quilting magazines on one, I uncovered two books I don't remember buying, and neither have anything to do with quilting, so why are they there? What other mysteries will I uncover?

Worse still perhaps is that I know I have to clear off the ironing board, those stacks still a bit mysterious, because I am about ready to embark on the baby quilt for my goddaughter's latest baby. Not willing to attend to that as my excitement in finding a pattern and material for the quilt is driving me to get started, I began searching through my stash for the pinks I think I want to use. Well, you have to audition those pinks against what you just bought and with nowhere else to do it, I started working on top of the pile on the ironing board. Mired, I am absolutely mired in a mess and confused as to what direction to go with these fabrics. So I'm thinking today the ironing board must be liberated, the fabric auditioning set aside until I have space on the worktable again. I want to start cutting!!!! That should be incentive enough, wouldn't you think?

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Design Team Invite

The on-line Handmade Book Club that I subscribe to offers a 5-Day Challenge twice a year to the public for a small fee. You've seen books I've made through past challenges; it's a great way to dip your toe into bookmaking or increase your technical knowledge while adding new bindings to your repertoire. For awhile now, the club has been tapping members to be a part of what they call The Design Team for each challenge. Those who accept receive advance access to videos and instructions so that they can make additional inspiration books for the website in advance of opening up the challenge, incorporating their own style and twist on the challenge book. Guess who got the call a few weeks ago and suddenly panicked at the thought - yes me! Panic, because I know how long I often take to actually get around to finishing these challenges, and here I have a hard deadline of two weeks. Panic because I don't think of myself as a seasoned bookmaker (although I am), let alone a creative one who breaks from following directions to a "T" (although I often do these days). And I don't particularly like being put in the spotlight (although I do post my books here as well as in the Club's Facebook page) and part of what they hope I'll agree to is being interviewed in one of the daily Zoom meetings for participants during the challenge week. Eek eek eek! Yeah, you can see how insecure I am about this when I wouldn't for a second be insecure if it was about quilting. I eventually reasoned, "Why NOT accept?" and said yes to the offer. After cutting and folding a piece of watercolor paper for the cover, I decided to ease into things by stenciling the insides of it. I'd bought some new stencils in January that I was eager to try, and the willow one was a perfect size. I got out my Shiva oil sticks that have been gathering dust and chose a green that I hoped would mirror a green I planned to use on the outside cover.

Security envelopes, fabric strips, lace and tissue paper, just some of the things I gathered.

As for the outside of the cover, this is where I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" as I read instructions for adding collage to it. Not that I don't have plenty of collage supplies, I definitely do as evidenced by the more than enough piles of paper and fabric in the photo above that I pulled from bins and baskets, but I don't feel comfortable with collage, haven't done a lot of it and am often not happy with the attempts I've made. Well, consider this a push to get some practical experience, and that is exactly what it was.

The teacher suggested starting with torn pieces of text and other black and white ephemera. I worked with my many designs of security envelopes. Towards the end of working on this layer, I could feel myself loosening up as I added torn bits of orange from a magazine page, but also not exactly happy that my hard work here would soon be partially covered up. That is the one thing about collage that I have a hard time reconciling. But I forged ahead to layer two's suggestion of adding some transparent tissue paper. You can see it on the left of the photo of collage elements. I was so happy to have a place to use this, and it had the two colors I was working with, orange and teal. But again, there was one more layer to add that if I was not careful, might totally obliterate those lightening bolts. Took a deep breath and soldiered on, adding strips of batik and torn silk. Having a hard time feeling it. Having a hard time adding over some of that patterning of the security envelopes not to mention the lightening bolts. Trying to achieve visual and value balance. Not particularly happy. Let it sit for a day. Stewed over it in my head til the morrow.

I'd wanted to add some lace but failed to find what I was looking for first time around. Now I looked a bit deeper and found a tatted-like off-white strip of lace and then a much wider similar piece. The narrow piece didn't do much for me and not enough really to use on both sides. But the wide one - there was enough to run the length of the cover on both front and back. Maybe along the fore edge would look good. Nope. Right down the center struck me as perfect. But there still seemed to be something lacking. One more day to sit, consider, stew over what additions might make it better.

I'd actually gone ahead and punched sewing holes in the spine and signatures, but still kept analyzing the collage. When pulling fabric strips from a basket, there was also some lengths of yarn that might be the right color. As I wondered what I might use this book for, it dawned on me that it might be the perfect vehicle for organizing my yarn stash by inventorying it here, along with noting the pattern I might use for specific yarns and even keeping track of what I'd made from specific yarns and keeping their label and washing instructions there. Once determining that, it only made sense to add some yarn to my covers, and they turned out to be the bit that brought cohesiveness and balance to the collage.

There I stood, in some kind of triumph, and realized I'd not taken progress photos of the different layers. So above are some close-ups so you can peer through to spot various bits that make up the whole.


For me, that was the hard part. Sewing in the signatures was pretty straightforward, although a binding different from any I've done so far. The zig zag requires working with two signatures at once rather than one at a time. But to get the hang of the sewing, it was highly suggested that we practice on a scrap of file folder or such. I really have never been fond of practicing anything before diving in, but when cutting the cover, I ended up with a strip of watercolor paper the perfect size for this practice run that could easily become a bookmark, so I used it along with embroidery floss to get the muscle memory hang of backstitching the zigzags. It also helped me see if I liked the colors and order of the threads I planned to use to stitch the book together.


Here's my finished book for the Scrappy Journal Challenge. I love that zigzag binding and the collage is growing on me. It measures 4" x 9".

And here's a look at the inside. One of the perks of being on the Design Team was free access to custom designed pdf "Printables" so we could print lines, dots, dashed lines, and/or banner checklist pages for our signatures. I chose a mix of the banner checklist, lines, and dots. We'll see how well I like the way I distributed them when I start using this.

Teacher Ali's Version of Scrappy Journal

Our teacher is all about using up what you have this year rather than keep buying new things. This challenge is a perfect example of that, with her giving lots of options for the supplies needed. If you think you might be interested in participating in the challenge which will run the second week in March, everything you need to know about the challenge is on the site here, along with link to sign up and a special earlybird price if you sign up before February 26th. Come join the fun!

Tuesday, February 06, 2024


I don't know about you, but I find myself filling out surveys and questionnaires and leaving my e-mail here and there in the hopes that I will win whatever free offer I decide I wouldn't mind having. I remain optimistic that surely one day I will win something, but I never do, or so rarely I can't remember the last time that spending time doing this rewarded me with a prize. I've slowed down considerably lately - all these clicks and comments eat up time I should be spending elsewhere, and I very nearly jettisoned a recent survey from the Stella Lighting Company which makes lamps somewhat like the Ott lights I've used for years. For the record, I have a small portable task lamp, a floor lamp, two architect lamps with Ott daylight bulbs and I've also replaced the bulbs in my studio overhead fixture with Ott daylight bulbs.  I'd decided that while I didn't need another task lamp with daylight bulb in my life, I'd keep on Stella's e-mail list just in case. So hovering over the delete button, I paused and decided, oh let's just do it. Five minutes of my life in exchange for the chance of being one of three randomly chosen people to receive one of their lamps. Imagine my surprise when the email came announcing I'd won a lamp, a Stella Two, what color would you like? So suspicious was I that this was some scam that I spent some time over on their website to confirm that this e-mail was real and wasn't asking for any info other than where to send the lamp. It arrived last week and it is a wonder, doing much more than my Ott task light does and worth over $200. Go check it out here for all its features as well as other styles available. I'm thinking it might replace the architect lamp over my ironing board - places where it bends to adjust height and angle no longer tighten for a firm hold.

On the organizing side, I've made little progress in the studio, so hard to face those piles and decide what to do with them. However, I spotted this little basket out in my garage and realized I could use it to corral some of my tools specific to bookbinding rather than having to hunt for them on the work table or in the bin where I have a lot of bookbinding supplies. I already use a tall cup for shears and glue brushes and other taller items. Needles are another thing that I'm always searching for in that bin - besides the straight bookbinding ones, I have some curved ones used on specific bindings. But it's always an irritating sorting through other things to get to them. A long time ago a made some small zippered pouches in several sizes, all given away except the one you see in the photo. I checked to see if the needles would fit and they do. The pouch will go in the bin but at least all the needles will be in one place inside it.
Such a small step but it made me feel so good! What small thing have you accomplished lately that felt big once done?

Monday, January 29, 2024

Another Gratitude Journal

I put the finishing touches on this gratitude journal and got it into the hands of a friend last week so now I can share it with you. I'd shown you here how I backed the gift wrap for the pockets and covers by using Cling Wrap between the gift wrap and rice paper backing and a hot iron. The Cling Wrap melts a bit to stick the two layers together, but when I trimmed up a smaller piece where cling wrap and rice paper extended past the gift wrap, I discovered that the Cling wrap peels right off the paper. Sooo, not a permanent solution at all, but I think it will hold well enough in this application. If I back gift wrap again, I'll do so with something more permanent like fusible web, provided it doesn't cause any wrinkling.

I'd pulled this beautiful gift wrap from National Wildlife Federation along with the William Morris gift wrap, not sure which I would use on the first gratitude journal. William Morris won out and I couldn't part with the finished book. That's ok because I felt this NWF paper more suited to my friend. When looking for ribbon for the closure of my book, I found this yellow ribbon as well, which I decided was perfect for this second book. But my choice of waxed linen thread on hand was pretty dull next to this paper so I found this yellow orange online. It could have been a brighter yellow but I didn't see anything better anywhere I looked.

I made this reading through directions I'd printed out, only referencing the videos a few times. Got a little cocky when I sewed the back cover on when, in my haste, I kept reading "link stitch" as "kettle stitch" for some reason, probably because the kettle stitch was the stitch before. So I'm short a "chain" on that last row of stitches but otherwise, the cover is attached well.

Didn't really have gift paper for the end papers (didn't want to use more of the cover paper) and in scrounging around my small stash of papers, I came across this paste paper I received from Sylvia Weir after I'd commented on her blog post showing her experiments with making it. It sort of looks like wavy water which I decided fit with the pocket gift wrap.

I chose some scenes from old calendars for the signature wraps. Not intended but I realized they could be seen representing the 4 seasons so I arranged the signatures in order of spring to winter. This one would be summer. An inspirational quote printed on presentation paper is slipped into the pocket.

I glued this message on the title page so she would have no doubt what this book was for.

I painted borders on some of the pages like I did in my own journal. It's such a nice touch, especially when coordinated with a magazine page inserted between signature pages.

I also used washi tape again to create borders. The tape is so old it doesn't want to peel off the roll without tearing. But I remembered a trick to help remove masking tape without affecting the surface it is being pulled away from: warm it with a heat tool or hair dryer. It did the trick.

Some of the things I tried attaching didn't stick particularly well around the edges so I bordered them with washi tape to hold them in place.

I was doing my best to cover the back side of those calendar pictures - more washi tape holding a card in place and some stickers.

One last washi tape-bordered card. The book was very well received which I was sure it would be. But you never know, so I was more than pleased at my friend's response. She said what I included in the book was indeed inspirational and she was immediately planning what would go inside. So while she starts on her gratitude journal, I continue to add things to my own. So much to be grateful for, so many little things worth preserving in it.