Maladignia's blog
Sitting cat 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.
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.

Written by Brenda :: 03 Sep 2015 - 11:57 :: 0 Comments :: Link
Orenda Gala
Me performing as Maha Rani. Photo by Ork de Rooij.

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.

Written by Brenda :: 24 Aug 2015 - 11:56 :: 0 Comments :: Link
Guess what I bought?!
Urban Threadster in Training embroidery Look what Matthijs made for me!

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

Melisse approves of the quality of the work
Written by Brenda :: 15 Aug 2015 - 16:45 :: Prrrr.. 1 Comment :: Link
Midnight hedgehog

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!

Hedgehog, hiding behind some plants
Written by Brenda :: 15 Aug 2015 - 16:14 :: Prrrr.. 1 Comment :: Link
Medical consult

Back from the appointment at the hospital with surgeon Verweij. He did a duplex test (some echo-like check) and told me that there's nothing wrong with the deeper veins in my leg and that the bulge that's near my ankle (plus the bulge below my ankle) are the result of one branch having faulty valves and leaking stuff that should be going upward (is actually pushed upward) into the outer veins that then expand (since they can't handle such pressure) and show on the outside of the leg. According to mister Verweij fixing this is a very simple procedure. As he put it 'klem, klem, touwtje, touwtje' (clasp, clasp, string, string), meaning that the faulty branch will be shut completely. Since you have thousands of little blood-vessels this should not be a big problem for the outer part of the leg and the swollen bit should shrink back to normal again.

The only downside of the simple procedure is that, in order to get to the problematic vein, a 3 cm deep incision should be made and for that I either need an anesthetic or an epidural because a local sedation won't be enough. Laser or injection is not an option with this kind of faulty vein (600 people per year get those, only 50 get real surgery with the cutting) However, before someone is going to cut into me I'm scheduled for an extensive test of the deeper veins next Monday morning. That way we can check if there is really nothing wrong with the deeper veins (that don't show completely on the hand-held duplex test machine). This is an extra check because I have been told that I had trombosis when I was 1,5 years old. There's no evidence of that on the handheld-duplex thingy, but if there is something wrong and the 'standard procedure' does not have the desired result, it would be a shame. Better save than sorry. On Wednesday I'll have the talk about what the test results of Monday mean for any further procedures. (Bad stuff: this will burn through my 'eigen risico'. Very good stuff: it seems to be fixable!)

This doctor was way more comprehensible than the one that I got my first appointment with. That was with the private clinic Dermalink. You can get an appointment there sooner (but I had to wait more than 30 minutes before I got to see the doctor himself, at the hospital today I was let in even earlier than my appointment time) but they do no 'cutting'. They have laser options and that's about it. That guy didn't tell what he was looking at on the machine (white and black stuff with blue and red blotches). He left the impression that he didn't have much structure in what he was doing and he failed to explain to me what exactly was wrong. Well, he did explain stuff, but that was not anywhere near what this last doctor said! And he only gave the 'option' of lifelong supporting stockings. Not what you want to hear if you're only 31 years old!

Doctor Verweij explained that the black stuff on the screen were veins, that blue is good (blood going in the right direction) and that red is bad (blood flowing in the wrong direction). He could see that the problem is in one specific area, and thus fixable. It's not just 'all veins are damaged, so cutting stuff away would only make it worse' like the first doctor said. How on earth could two consults give such different results!?

On Wednesday I'll ask what the risks are of doing the surgery or leaving things as they are, assuming that nothing is wrong with the deeper veins. It's not just that the bulge on my leg is ugly, but it is also painful or itchy at some times. Last time I did a big skating trip it took 2 days for my leg to stop hurting. So removing it would be a good idea, as long as the removal does not bring along any other (bigger) risks/problems. And if there are indeed problems with the deeper veins I also want to know what my options or risks are.

After the consult on Wednesday I'll call Dermalink to tell them, in nice wording, that they suck and that I won't be coming back. He asked me to call 4 months after the appointment to tell how the stocking was working out for me.

Written by Brenda :: 11 Aug 2015 - 17:00 :: Prrrr.. 1 Comment :: Link