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Moving Day

March 17th, 2010 (11:53 am)

Feeling:: accomplished

This blog has moved, and can now be found here. By this time next month the pictures in this journal should take the form of a little red x, but fear not: I've transferred my archives (including tutorials, embroidery patterns, and the ever-popular Batman Shirt Post), and am in the process of moving the images. Please update your links and feeds!

Thank you for all your support here at Livejournal, and I hope you'll join me over on Wordpress for my continuing adventures in creativity and life. I've got some pretty good things in store.

Choices, Choices.

March 8th, 2010 (06:57 am)

Feeling:: thoughtful

Please forgive all the text in a craftblog post, but (if you've got a few moments) I could definitely use your input, oh wise blogoverse.

I'm deeply contemplating moving from Livejournal to Wordpress. Readers, loyal and otherwise, any thoughts? How does Wordpress compare? Should I stick it out with Livejournal, even with its occasional shenanigans? I've actually been contemplating this move for a while, said shenanigans aside, and I'm coming up on the right time to do it... but I'm not sure if I should. This is my positive v. negative list so far:

- From what I've seen I like the Wordpress commenting system better, and think it would be much easier on off-Livejournal comments. Off-livejournal commenters: do you find commenting on Wordpress blogs easier than on Livejournal? This is huge to me, as I'd really like to build a blog that gives something to the online crafting community, and interaction with said community via comments is important in achieving that goal.
- Wordpress might actually be cheaper for my purposes, which is also important. At least, cheaper initially.
- I get to avoid future Livejournal shenanigans. If you haven't heard, this last one was pretty, erm... bad. Implementation of third-party code site wide without actually checking to see what it does (at least, they're saying they're surprised by what it did; I suppose they could be lying since it pissed everyone off, which is even worse). If they get in the habit of adding code from a sketchy source without checking what it does could very easily become a dangete to my information, like, y'know, my credit card.
- If I'm going to do it, now is the time- my paid LJ account comes due at the end of March, which would make the switch convenient. Plus, if I don't do it now, I'll have paid for a full year of LJ that I may well regret.
- I think it's easier to reach a wider audience on Wordpress, since Livejournal caters so strongly to internal communities. Perhaps Wordpress is the same way, however?
- I think I like a lot of the Wordpress widgets and features and the like more than I do Livejournal's. I think I'll be able to do a lot more cool things with the Wordpress platform (though it may cost me more).
- I can, and in fact already have, imported all my LJ posts to Wordpress. I just have to change a good chunk of the links/pictures in said posts, and reformat a bit. :/
- I suspect that Wordpress as a platform just comes across as more professional than Livejournal.
- Wordpress will likely give me a lot more room to grow, website-wise, when I finally get some funds to invest into Corvus.

-I've been on Livejournal since High School and am quite familiar with the interface; Wordpress will require some learning.
- Wordpress also might be more expensive. I think it'll be cheaper, but I could be wrong about what upgrades I'd need. Actually, I bet it would be more expensive over time- initially cheaper, but costly if I want to expand and customize a bit more.
- I don't know enough about Wordpress's corporate side to know if they're prone to shenanigans and drama. Do any of you know how Wordpress treats its users?
- I would have to move all my pictures, and then edit every post I've imported so the picture links are correct. That's posts going all the way back to January 2007. And, because our rural bandwidth is limited, I'm going to have to go hunt down the local library to do it, if they'll let me. Then again, it's not like I've got a lot of other things eating up my time.
- I lose the Livejournal community, and possibly my Livejournal followers (though I hear I can make this journal feed off of my Wordpress RSS). Livejournal followers, would you follow this journal if it were a syndicated feed? Or come over and play with me on Wordpress?
- And it's not just LJ users; you inevitably lose readers when you move a blog. I want to build my audience, and don't know if this would be a positive move in that direction- I suspect it would be sharply negative at first, then positive over time, but you never know.
- You also lose value re: links to the blog. There are plenty of places which link to particular posts on this blog (particularly tutorials) and if I stop paying for LJ picture hosting, all the pictures would disappear. I'll definently be moving every post and picture, but I suspect that a lot of people probably won't put in the effort to track down where my posts have gone.
-My Wordpress blog would likely have ads on it, at least until I made a little more money. They're supposed to be non-intrusive. Do any of you run into ads on my LJ? You're not supposed to, as it's a paid account, but you never know.

Can you think of any other negatives/positives to add, or enlighten any of my thoughts above? Much appreciated, as always.

Pirate Pants

March 6th, 2010 (01:23 pm)

Feeling:: piratical

When you spend a decade of a 24-year life working for the local Renaissance Festival, you don't so much acquire a costume as a wardrobe. A good portion of mine is made by me, and what isn't made by me is still largely handmade. For example, my new pants:

You know, I think I've had the fabric for these almost as long as I've been sewing on my own. They were originally made as wrap pants, but I wasn't a huge fan of how they looked. This version is a pair of drawstring pants with further drawstrings running on the outside of each leg, so that I can gather it up. I rather like the baggy, blousey, not-very-neat look- it seems very pirate to me.


Other things in the above outfit which are handmade: my sword, which was reconstructed from a leaf spring by James, my hat, which was reconstructed from a big floppy garden hat by me, and the corset, which comes from the fantastic Damsel in this Dress (I want this one, and this one, and this one).


March 4th, 2010 (07:48 am)

Feeling:: groggy


Hey, remember my nerdtastic Knucks? I did actually finish them a few weeks ago. I know! Amazing!

Nerd Gloves
Nerd Gloves

They're utterly nerdy, and amazingly comfortable. Knucks is a lovely pattern to work with, perfectly shaped, and the cable pattern fitted onto the back with no major issues. I can't wait to use both patterns again.

Mmm, warm.
Mmm, warm.

While I may often dally with jewelry work here or polymer clay there, I always have at least one knitting project on the needles. Having defeated my second Knuck syndrome, I've since cast on for a Razor Cami to keep the yarn flowing.

New project!
New project!

Long-time readers may remember this yarn (Knitpicks Shine Sport). It never made it far as Calla and thusfar, I'm much happier with its new incarnation.

Mmm, lace.
Mmm, lace.

I've not made any serious attempts at lace before, and I figure this is a good project to start with. Granted, the lace section took me a few false starts, but now that I've got it down it's moving along with gratifying speed. One stitch at a time!

Book Review: Built by Wendy Dresses

March 3rd, 2010 (08:07 pm)

Feeling:: accomplished
Listening to:: BBC News

Shortly before packing up to move to the farm, I won a book in a Clevergirl.org giveaway. This, I decided, would be my first book review. It is not, you may recall, my first attempt. My first attempt ended in disaster when, after taking all pictures and writing up my thoughts, my computer literally melted, leaving me not with a beautiful review of Weekend Sewing but instead a large brick of metal, plastic and disappointment.

Alas. Time to try again.

Built by Wendy Dresses
Built by Wendy Dresses

This is my first acquisition in the Sew U series, Built by Wendy Dresses. It's a beautifully-put together book, with a heavy, durable cover and wire binding so that it can lay flat while open. The instructions are clear and useful, and the illustrations are lovely. In other words, as many other reviews will tell you, the book easily reaches the bare minimum for a quality craft book. But what else does it offer?

Let's talk about what this book is, and what makes it different from other craft books (and perhaps, other sewing books- my sewing book collection is in its relative infancy).

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

It seems like the vast majority of American craft books today (though, I will grant you, certainly not all) are very much about finishing specific projects. You may learn new a new skill or gain an idea or two which would be applicable to other projects, but those moments of illumination are often incidental rather than the primary goal of the book. That is not so with Built by Wendy Dresses- the primary goal of the book is not to get you to replicate its specific projects (three patterns with 25 variations) but to learn how to modify a simple, basic building block of a pattern into any dress you imagine. Every chapter, every sentence makes this goal obvious, constantly suggesting more and more variations and options, constantly striving to demystify and make less scary the process of design.

When I was younger, I had a sort of game that consisted of sheets upon sheets of cartoonish facial features. There were pages of noses, of eyes, of mouths, of hair, of accessories, and I'd go through and trace one part here and one part there until I had created my own little cartoon. The first major discussion in Built by Wendy Dresses immediately brought this old memory to mind, with page upon page of dress details from which to pick and choose my perfect dress.

Mix-And-Match Game
Mix-And-Match Game

Different styles of sleeves, of neckline and collar, of length and width, of shape; no dressmaking decision is ignored. Following this are discussions of fabrics, buttons, zippers, trims, pockets, facings and linings and hems, oh my; a vast wealth of ideas that you can mix and match into a dress all your own. The instructions for applying these ideas to the basic patterns –how to measure and modify the pattern to get the desired feature- are disbursed throughout the project section (which thus becomes much more than a bunch of projects- rather, they're blueprints for pattern modification which can be applied to any project).

Next up comes an overview of basic skills, not only for sewing (which is not the main focus of the book- it advises you turn to other books for in-depth beginner “how to sew” instructions) but for modifying patterns to change the look and the fit. With clear, straightforward instructions it covers measuring, tracing, modifying and trueing patterns and the usefulness of muslins in getting a proper fit.

The Three Patterns
The Three Patterns

Finally come the aforementioned projects section. Built by Wendy Dresses includes three basic patterns –a shift dress, a sheath dress, and a dirndl dress- and endless instructions for modifying the patterns.

A Project
A Project

In the project section, modification ideas are put together in various ways that are calculated to inspire.

A Project&quot;s Pattern Adjustments
A Project's Pattern Adjustments

Each project includes a section on pattern adjustments...

A Project&quot;s Alternative Project Suggestion
A Project's Alternative Project Suggestion

...a section on cutting layouts as well a further modification suggestion –changing fabric or cut- to create a still different dress...

A Project&quot;s Sewing Instructions
A Project's Sewing Instructions

...and of course, sewing instructions. This is a book that very much strives to open up possibilities, to show the magic inherent in sewing, to show that you can make exactly what you want, rather than limiting yourself to the pattern as drafted.

I like it, a lot. I'm digging through my fabric stash as we speak to see if I have enough for one project, and I've had to sit down and sketch out multiple ideas for others which. And, in perhaps the best show of faith I can have in a book, I've added the other two Built by Wendy books to my "when-I-get-a-job" list. I can't wait!

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