Welcome to my home-cooked journal.
Here you will find my rants about every day life and things that keep me busy.
In the past I have frequently written, but there's no saying if I'll continue on that path. It all depends on how busy I am.
Have fun reading my scribbles.
What kept me busy
Things that have kept me busy the last few weeks; preparing for the day of amateur arts (dag van de amateurkunst) with Amersical. That was a great way to start the season again. This year we'll be playing The Mama Mia Musical; an edited version of the official musical (everything in Dutch). We'll hear who gets to play which part this week. I applied for Tanja or Rosa, Donna's friends.
Then there was the wig and headdress course I've been taking at Faces in Gorinchem. Three Mondays with the last day this past Monday. We had to make a wig out of wool (sewn to a wig cap liner strand by strand (or in bunches)), one out of hemp (Rococo style) and a headdress from somewhere between 1200 and 1450. The hemp wig was mainly made on the second day of the course and finished at home, the other two projects were homework. And my goodness what a lot of work! But the results were so worth it. I'm still waiting for the official pictures, but I took some of my hemp wig and made it a project at Cut Out and Keep. We had a photo shoot with an amateur photographer last Monday with matching costumes to the wigs/headdress. The Rococo costume was entirely improvised from newspapers (for the bustles and a frame to work on) and fabric. So no sewing at all, just tacking and pinning. Oh, and make-up of course. When I finally get the photos (somewhere in November) I'll post some here.
I also reinstalled windows 7 on my computer. Took me more than a day to get everything up and running again. We improved the walls of our Sahara tent by adding mud flaps to keep out the rain (which bothered us a lot last Summoning) and we added a bit of fabric to our tarp so that it now matches our small green tent better without leaving a gap for the rain to pour through. This will all be tested next week. This weekend we have Charm for which we will lend out our tent and the week after that we'll be sleeping in it at the Moots.
I've also entered a contest at Urban Threads with a vest with 3 embroidered designs on it. Took me 1,5 day to get it finished. I was really nervous about embroidering the designs on fleece because these designs are really densely stitched and fleece is stretchy. But as long as you don't embroider on pieces that need to stretch (like the body) it will work out. The embroidery is a bit stiff which is especially notable at the right sleeve (where the mermaid lives) but it is not uncomfortable to wear. I love my machine!! Next challenge: try to make lace. Oh, and finish the 'portfolio' with thread listings and embroidery time for each design I already bought so it is easier to plan a design on a piece of work.
Another thing that happened, though it didn't take up much time, was that I found a new job. My first work day is tomorrow (aaahh.. nerves!). I put a semi-desperate add on Marktplaats asking if someone could give me a chance without any prior experience in their field of work. This was on a Sunday. The Tuesday after that I had an e-mail and on Wednesday I was in Utrecht for a job interview at Covers Housing. A week later we had signed the contract. It's a 24 hours a week job and for a while I'll be combining it with my mail-girl work for Sandd. Until I can decide if this new job suits me well enough to keep at it. (Hey, it's a first for me.. working in administration) Then I'll end my job at Sandd (a month notice time...) and hopefully after that I can get my own business up and running. Which has been stagnating a bit because of above reasons (yes, yes, priorities..).
Today I plan to do some shopping for some more decent clothes to wear to work. My new shoes have already come in, now I need some longsleeves or blouses to combine with other stuff. I don't much like shopping for clothes, but it is sunny and cheery outside so I'll live. So, here we go!
Pig in a poke
For the Dutch readers: 'kat in de zak', and for those who are interested the origin of the English phrase.
I bought thread on Marktplaats, said to be usable for embroidery machines. Well, it ain't. The threads break every so many stitches and I tried it on lower speed and with lower thread tension, to no avail. That's 43 euros down the drain for 50 spools of thread that might not work in a normal sewing machine either (have not tried that yet).
The seller did not mention brand and could not look it up for me because he didn't have the goods; his 'supplier' would send it (took 5-12 days too!). I have enlightened him about the brand and the sorry state of the thread. There's even one spool with a visible knot in the thread and in some places you can see that is has not twined correctly! Cheap ass third world stuff. Grmbl. After I Googled the brand I found a lot of disappointed buyers, but then it was already too late for me. The label on the spools state that it is high quality silk for chikan machines. Well, it ain't no silk and those chikan (Indian embroidery style) machines must be a lot different from my embroidery machine to work with this thread without the stuff snapping.
I've found a few other sellers on Marktplaats, but now I ask brand and more detailed pictures before buying anything. The reason that I'm looking on Marktplaats is that the stuff is very expensive and there's quite a few people that give up the hobby/business and sell their leftovers. I already have an official Madeira set of colors, but 18 colors is a very limited set to choose from when embroidering great designs from Urban Threads.
Urban Threads has oodles of wonderful designs, yet it would be great if I could make my own of course. For now I'm trying a free piece of software called SophieSew. You have to redraw every line of the image you want to digitize (converting a design to an embroidery pattern that your machine kan 'read' is called digitizing) as an outline and add properties like stitch type, color, density etc. There are programs that let you import a picture and digitize it for you, but those are 200+ dollars. I might want to buy such a program at some point, but I think I'll find out how badly I need/want it before jumping in head first. Perhaps I can Google some more for cheap/free software.
Last Saturday was the gala of Orenda. When it was first announced I did not intend to go. I didn't know what I would do there, didn't have the Facebook buzz of "OMG, I'm so going to make a beaaaaauutiful dress", so I didn't sign up. Until I was asked by the organization if I was willing to come play my NPC Maha Rani (their version of Mata Hari) there and perform. Well, sure! So sewing a new costume was in order. Because, hey, you never have the right costume for the event, right? Even though I have about 6 different belly dance costumes at the moment.
I first bought an orange with gold fabric at the market in Utrecht. I was planning on wearing my gold bra and gold skirt from my Parnassos adventures, so I wouldn't have to make everything from scrap. However, I saw another fabric that I didn't buy but that haunted me the rest of the week. And suddenly the orange fabric didn't seem like a good choice any longer. So the following Saturday I went to the market again (with Matthijs, who needed fabric for a Paja Dahni poncho) and bought the haunting fabric anyway. It was pink with gold and brown and shimmering and pretty! It would make a new circle skirt and I still have fabric left if ever I want to cover a bra with it too.
Only a skirt was not enough, of course. Mata Hari wore a lot of jewelry and drapy fabric and a butt-covering belt. And somewhere on Youtube I found videos of someone with long strips of fabric with tassels. My muse had a field day. Some yellow-gold fabric was taken from my stash (didn't make it into the first version of the golden costume), pink crochet-cotton, beads and sequins and stuff. A lot of time went into making a large necklace and the headband with fabric flowers. I crocheted 30 chains for on the headband and in my hair, faking (a bit) the long hair that the real Mata Hari had.
Since I had been asked well in advance of the actual gala, I got everything done in time. The last crocheted chain being finished and attached to an hair-elastic on the Thursday before the gala. But then... panic! On Friday I was told that I was meant to dance at the end of the evening. Meaning that I would have to walk around in my 'oriental' costume the whole night, spoiling the surprise! Even though I had also made a robe to cover up the costume (sadly forgot to bring it to the gala!! stupid, stupid!) I didn't want to spoil the surprise. So an Unholy Plan (Onzalig Plan™) was formed between my work and volunteering at the animal shelter. I would whip up a jacket to wear on top of some skirts I had already planned for the main event of Orenda. So after cuddling the cats at the shelter I went home and set to work.
Fortunately I had already sketched up earlier what kind of costume I'd want and I had also decided on the fabric (which I had bought about 6 years ago) and I even had matching buttons lying around. I altered a pattern of a modern jacket. Altering the neckline, elongating the hem and adding more peplum in the back and shortening the sleeves. Of course some ruffles were added too. I took a shortcut by not making a lining and serging the edges of the ruffles instead of hemming them. I was so glad that this is not a reenactment event and I am allowed to use any machine I like.
I forced myself to visit the Viking market at Schothorst on Saturday afternoon so I would not be tempted to also make a new skirt and stress myself too much (since it would never be finished on time, but I would still be trying to). But I did make a matching purse after I returned home. Then I packed everything and waited for my ride to arrive. Miriam was kind enough to actually come pick me up at home, though it meant half an hour delay for her.
I didn't know what to do with myself at the gala, but watching the other people and admiring their outfits was fun. So were the presentations of the projects that were looking for funding. However I liked the progression, my character was supposed to loathe it. I didn't really feel in character at that moment. Talking with Silvio Spaghettini (Houdini like person) and the actual performance later in the evening made up for it.
The performance did not go as planned. I was a bit stiff and sore from walking around on low heels all evening and despite my warming up my muscles didn't really respond like they had to. So I felt a bit clumsy. However, according to the compliments I received nobody noticed anything wrong. And I served as a fine distraction from Cora threatening one of the players into reading out loud some text, hinting at a bomb being placed in the building. We actually were able to flee the scene without getting caught. The bomb was (sadly for us) disarmed in time.
Some nice conversation outside the building, driving home to Cora and René and then chatting some more had us in bed at 04:00. Yawn! A very nice breakfast at 11:15 and then the trip home to clean up the house and make a cake. My mother and her wife would be coming over to bring me my belated birthday present and stay for dinner. Since I had been working on my costume, playing with my new embroidery machine and some other stuff I hadn't put much time or effort in the household. It was a mess, but we got it clean in about an hour.
My mom brought their dogs, which didn't sit well with Lina. Lina was confronted with Kelly (a dog about the same size as a cat), got spooked, clawed Kelly over the nose and fled upstairs to hide under the bed for the rest of the day. Melisse was braver, she actually approached both dogs (Cliff being a medium-sized dog, think poodle/labrador). Melisse kept her distance but repeatedly walked passed the dogs to the other end of the garden. She only felt threatened when, on leaving, both dogs were brought inside and 'cornered' her. However, both dogs took her growling as a warning and backed off, so no further clawing was needed.
I got a new pair of fabric scissors and a tool to handle sewing over thick fabric (like where seams meet), we had tea and cookies, diner and cake and good conversation. So it was a weekend well spend and ended.
Guess what I bought?!
Yes, an embroidery machine!
I got a very good deal at Huissteden in Barneveld. I went there with the assumption that I would be buying a Brother innov-is 750E, because that was the one within my budget (1000 euros), but I had already been eyeballing the 800E on the site. It came with a larger work area, but was also about 500 euros more expensive. So after a thorough demonstration of the 750E I asked about the 800E and was almost immediately sold because of the higher user friendliness of the newer machine. Bigger screen, in color, meaning more detailed editing and more preview options. The 750E made a blob out of the Urban Threads logo I brought with me on USB while the 800E actually showed the logo and the text and the intended colors. Also the assembling of the hoop went a lot smoother.
The man made me a great offer. I could get the machine for 1399 euros (listed price was 1439) and he would throw in for 50 euros on necessities (thread, spool thread, stabilizer, extra spools). In the end I got the machine for 1399 and about 70 euros of extras!
It took some effort to get the machine home (we went by train... why do we have a car? :-p ) and took it for a test run this morning with the above shown results. The heart was a surprise from Matthijs, it consists of a built in pattern of a heart and some characters. Obviously the B and M, but he also made the arrow out of V's, a hypen and an i. This machine lets you combine patterns and scale, rotate, flip and position stuff on the machine itself. It takes .pes files from an USB stick as well so now all patterns of Urban Threads are an option! I already did some of their patterns by hand embroidery, but a machine makes it so much faster to do with 850 stitches per minute max. I got a work area of 16x26 cm maximum.
We have yet to find the best set up for our 2 sewing machines (both operational again), serger and now this big beauty. The table is getting a bit crowded.
Melisse approves of the quality of the work, though we should've bought a bigger hoop to fit her in. :-p
Last Wednesday Matthijs came home late from dinner at his mom's place. I was in bed already but decided to come outside and see the 'falling stars' that were supposed to be visible this week (about 1 per minute, according to Matthijs). He wanted to try to take a photo. Didn't work out, but I saw 1 falling star. However, the more interesting thing was the surprise we got when we were only outside for about a minute. I saw something move fast from the corner of my eye and discovered it between the big waste bins we have outside; a hedgehog! Scuffling through our garden. So we took some pictures of that too (bad lighting, so mediocre results). It was so cute!
We have quite some snails, worms and frogs in our garden. The latter bringing a lot of entertainment to our cats (and exasperation to us when we find another beheaded corpse). I always wondered how the frogs got in our garden, and out for laying eggs since we have no pond in our garden (neither do our neighbours). But a hedgehog?! I read on the internet that hedgehogs are actually more common in gardens just outside the city than in actual countryside. I wonder if we have more than 1 in our block, since they need to mate some time, right? And it should be someone's offspring. So there must be more! So cute!