Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aspirin and Fabric Bead Therapy

Almost two weeks ago I came down with respiratory crud. Actually, my husband and I both did. At first we thought it was ragweed allergies, which I'm sure is largely responsible for lowering our immune systems in the first place and making us susceptible to a virus. But this stuff just hung on - cough, headache, mild fever, body aches and lots and lots of disgusting mucus. Blegh.

My husband took a lot of aspirin and recovered a lot faster than I did. That should have been my first clue that I was dealing with a respiratory FLU rather than allergies. But because I have a sensitivity to aspirin - it can give me tinnitis if I take too much - I put off aspirin and instead took ibuprofen for body pain. This past week when I should have been well over this illness I realized I was getting reinfected. None of my normal immune-boosting therapies were working (MMS, colloidal silver, vitamin C, enemas, etc...). I could actually feel myself getting better and then coming down with the darn stuff again. This happened several times before I finally realized I had to do aspirin therapy!

I learned about aspirin therapy at two or three years ago when I had contracted this same illness. Only it was worse then. I remember laying in bed feeling like I was literally wasting away. And I was. This was when the swine flu hubbub was sweeping the nation and the medical community was urging everyone to get a flu shot to combat it. Swine flu is a manufactured disease - likely distributed via aerial means, i.e. chemtrails - and flu shots are their answer to "fixing" a problem they caused. It's all really just a big con and flu shots are basically a toxic chemical cocktail that does nothing to make you better. In fact, it's being proven how deadly these "vaccines" are, because they simply tear the body down. You can read more about this controversy at Unfortunately, lots of people have been brainwashed by the medical community and will dutifully give into the pressure to take these toxic injections. Not to mention the shots they subject their own innocent children to.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't getting any better and this could possibly be swine flu, so I read about aspirin paired with vitamin C as a remedy for wasting disease. Yes, that's what it's really called in places like India, and the person who first shared the information is a well-respected natural physician from that area of the world. And that's exactly what it feels like when you have it - like you are wasting away. By my 3rd dose I felt my energy returning and I felt more like myself again. It was amazing. What I learned is that the vitamin C helps your immune system and kills viruses while the aspirin actually dissolves the cells of the virus, effectively killing it. The results were amazing. For an adult the dosage is roughly 2 - 325 mg aspirin and 1 - 1,000 mg vitamin C every 50 minutes. Set a timer if you need to. They say if you don't see improvement by your 5th dose then you probably have something else and need to try a different remedy.

I did the aspirin therapy last night and by my 3rd dose was feeling like myself again. I slept soundly for a good 8 hours. I woke up still dealing with minor coughing, sneezing and mucus so I'm repeating the treatment. Because of my sensitivity to aspirin, I am taking just one aspirin instead of two. It seems to be working just fine and my ears don't appear to be ringing any more than usual.

The reason one becomes reinfected with this disease is because the virus lives in mucus. Once the mucus is swallowed - which is inevitable considering you are practically drowning in the stuff - the virus re-enters your system through your stomach and the symptoms are repeated. The end result is that your body becomes weaker and weaker the more the virus takes hold, hence the wasting away. I believe an alternative to the aspirin is L-lysine, but I'm not sure I am remembering that correctly, so if you are interested in this treatment do read the earth clinic information. The original post is by Ted, if you can find it. But you will see a lot of feedback and should be able to glean some information from those reports. Good luck.

Here's for the fun part. One thing I DO like about being sick is that I feel completely excused to totally immerse myself in a creative activity. This time I made fabric beads!

Aren't they lovely?

I don't know what got me thinking about fabric beads again. I've made simple paper and fabric beads in the past, but these are different. I did a little research and found this tutorial. It's very fun, easy and inspirational.

I love projects like these because they use up little scraps of fabric, lace, yarns and other trims so perfectly. And it's so fun creating a little work of art. I love how the beads and embroidery stitches add so much character and design. There is no limit to what you can create.

What I found is these beads, formed on a knitting needle or bamboo skewer - a rounded chopstick would also work - are a lot like a crazy quilt project I made several years ago. 

This involved using a large oval shaped wooden bead and covering it with a tiny crazy quilt block made with very small fabric bits. I love these little cq items, which I used for Christmas tree ornaments. But it's hard to find large wooden beads - at least it was at the time. I had to buy a big bag of variously sized wooden beads just to get the two I used for this project. The beautiful thing about the fabric beads, however, is you still get the jumbled, patchwork effect without having to do the tedious work of building a crazy quilt block. You can also work in a lot of lovely stitching. There is less of the beautiful stitching I did on the cq ornaments, but more freedom in the overall design.

As you can see, there is plenty of detail in these beads. I was even able to use short scraps of silk ribbon I found in my ort (thread trimmings) bag. This is what I used to make those pretty red roses. I love the look of those frosty lavender beads with the wagon wheel stitching over them. This is the kind of texture I played with, contrasting smooth silk with bumpy beads and stitchwork. Too fun. I really like each an every one of these. For the bead on the right I used sequins as the theme. I think it turned out great.

All these beads are built by first starting with a long 8-12" x 1" or so strip of black woven polyester fabric (an old skirt I salvaged for fabric long ago) which is then covered by a similar sized strip of a printed silk sari scrap. Pink, grey and purple go so great together I couldn't resist adding wool yarn bits in those colors. Even a scrap of magenta-colored silk sari yarn worked great in this color scheme - the same silk sari yarn I used to make the purse, scarf and tam I wrote about in a previous blog and which you can see on the red roses bead.

Here is a view of the smaller beads. On the top buttons I used the chevron stitch and chain stitch in metallic thread. Metallic thread is a must on these beads because of the way it catches light and brightens up the bead. A variety of seed beads, ornamental beads, sequins and findings also comes in handy.

I haven't decided exactly how I will use these beads. Right now I am considering using the large feature beads as a pendant on a necklace and the smaller beads either as additions to the necklace or earrings. I'd like to make some smaller round beads to go with these and maybe use them as earrings. I'm thinking about combining these with some needle tatting or just stringing them on silk. I even have some lampwork beads In these same colors that might also complement the fabric beads in a piece of jewelry. Christmas ornaments aren't out of the question, either. And it might be nice to have a few of these in my Etsy store. And, alas, here is where fabric bead therapy turns into work!

Here is one last look at the larger fabric beads, along with a disclaimer about the alternative remedies I've talked about above. Always do your own research. My information is simply sharing what has worked for me. It may not work for you, but it's up to you to make that decision. Best of luck with whatever therapy you choose...and happy beading!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dogs, dance and dreams...

The neighbor's dumb dog woke me up again this morning at 8:30 a.m. It's Sunday and I would like to have slept a little more. Too bad we can't pick our neighbors. I'd like to ditch mine. They've paid a lot of fines for letting their dog bawl it's head off - it's some kind of coon hound. They don't seem to get the message that everyone is sick of their crap. They give dog ownership a bad name.

Anyway, I'm up now and thinking about the day. I've been surfing Facebook a little. I caught up on my Words With Friends games and read a couple blogs by Kristine Adams. She's a Fat Chance Belly Dance member who is traveling the world solo, teaching classes here and there. Right now she's in Mexico. I think her ultimate destination is Russia. I know she's doing this trip on a dime. FCBD, which performs American Tribal Style belly dance (the form I study), had several fundraisers for her before she left and she sold many of her things - including much-loved belly dance gear - in order to raise money for her trip. I'd love to be trekking around with her. That's one of my dreams, too, to travel the world. Here she is in Guadalajara.

Which is what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning. I want to travel. I've always wanted to travel. I've had some nice trips. Here's me in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1989 with friends I still love and miss.

I've been to Mexico several times; spent two months traveling in the British Isles, Germany and France; seen Argentina and been to Austria, but there's so much more I want to see and do. I want to go to Amsterdam. I've never been to Canada. I want to go back to France and parlais some Francais. I want to buy fabric and textiles in India, Turkey and Morocco. I want to dance with women in other countries who dance the language of ATS. I want to LIVE abroad, not just visit. And that's the thing, I always come back home when I should just keep going. Traveling and learning languages are the main things I've really wanted to do in my life and somehow they seem to elude me. I woke up thinking all this time I've wanted to pursue and live my dreams - and at this age I thought I would have achieved this. Instead, I've been anchored to the same place for 13 years. Domesticity is not my strong suit.

I love creating things, and I have a wide array of sewing skills. I can look back and see how my whole life I have absorbed myself in these pursuits when I couldn't realize other dreams. (I've heard it called "shrinking your dreams.") As a kid we lived an even more isolated life on a farm not far from where I live now. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere (never got to take gymnastics or dance classes like I dreamed about) and rarely managed to even get out of the house and enjoy the place due to my controlling parents. I often had to choose "safe" activities like cross stitching or reading, so I can see how this mindset started young. As an adult, lack of either time or money has always been an issue for me, so I've stayed closer to home. Doing what was safer, perhaps, or even using lack of funds as an excuse to stay put. Either way, I'm not blaming anyone but myself for not achieving my own goals. But I can look around my house right now and see what I have chosen to invest in - tatting thread, fabric, beads, jewelry supplies, patterns - instead of my real dreams. What is it about us that we put off what we really want to do?

Living in a small town for so long forced me to find things to do that would keep me interested in life. Belly dance has become my latest thing, and I love it to pieces. I love the costuming. I love watching myself grow and change as I grasp new moves and begin to construct a base of knowledge of ATS. 

I have overcome serious health issues - some still dog me - in my pursuit of this dance form, but I keep pushing forward. I have come a long way in the past few years. I love watching our troupe shift and change and grow. It's exciting and rewarding and one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done. I know dance keeps me sane and interested in life. But it's not always enough.

It's not enough for me, and I know if I don't hit the road some time soon I will always regret not doing so. I look at people like Kristine Adams and the Zapp family, which wasn't even a family when starting out 13 years ago. The Zapps, Herman and Candy, are from Argentina and they've been traveling the world for 13 years in an antique car. 

I don't even know where they are right now, but they are all about just getting on the road, conquering your fears about travel and experiencing the world. They have nearly been eaten by crocodiles in the Amazon jungle, supported themselves by learning to paint, and had four children along the way. People all over the world have helped them achieve their dreams. They are proof that if you take the leap life will catch you.

I know we are always told to be grateful for what you have, to bloom where you are planted. Those are wise words. And I do love many things about my life, especially my husband, Shane. He's the best. I adore our cats. I love the Midwest landscape. I love the trips Shane and I have taken together. Here's us in Cozumel.

At the same time, I don't want to say "oh, well, this is all there is." If we aren't growing and changing and reaching for our dreams then we are dying. Not to travel feels like dying to me. Traveling is one of the best things I've experienced in life. It's time to get out there and do some more of it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's that nutty time of year

One of Shane's nicknames for me is "Squirrel." It seems appropriate now that pecan season is here.

Usually I don't bother trying to gather so many. In years past I would fill up the occasional plastic sack, or my pockets if I'm out for a walk and happen to see a lot of pecans laying around. But this year the temptation was too great. It seems the pecan trees have produced a bumper crop.

Here's another photo of my nutty trove, with the roll of paper towels in front to give you an idea of the depth of these bags. 

You're looking at about 7 solid hours of pecan picking. I have the sore back to prove it.

Every year I tell myself I need to get one of those nifty nut pickers so I won't have to bend over and break my back. And it's not just my back. A very dry summer followed by some nice fall rains caused the grass to spring up. It's thick and lush and the pecans get lost in the grass, so there has been a fair amount of crawling around on hands and knees sorting through the verge. As a result, my shins are sporting some nut-sized bruises.

I know some people probably think I'm crazy for devoting so much time to gathering pecans. I've tried to get my husband to help, but it's torture for him. Maybe it's the peace and quiet, or the looking, or the fact that technology is not involved, but he just won't do it. 

Of course, I'm not the only two-legged squirrel out foraging, and there are some ethics to pecan picking, like not straying too close into someone else's "territory." Some folks won't care if you sidle right up to them while searching, but others tense up if they feel someone is encroaching on their territory, even if you're on public land. The other day when I was picking I had one lady come right over fairly close to me and start filling up a bucket. Her boldness surprised me at first, but we got to chatting and I noticed it was nice to have someone to talk to. Another guy actually invited me over to the tree he was working under because the pecans were so plentiful, and because he was a really nice man. Later, one gentleman apologized for coming over to where I was picking, saying he just wanted to talk. We talked pecans for a bit - the best trees, how he feeds them to his neighbor's ducks (what!??) - and then he wandered off. Another guy drove right over to me, in his car, to offer me the few pecans he had gathered. It was a nice gesture, but all I could think about was how he was driving on top of pecans.

My pecan (and that's pronounced puh-con, not pee-can, here in the Midwest) picking endeavors began young. I can still remember the first time I went. I was eight and we had just moved to a small farm in Udall, Kan., that summer. It was now fall and my dad had us all go out to the edge of a field where a big pecan tree was growing. We gathered pecans as a family - I don't remember us ever doing it again, from then on I went out on my own. But I really didn't know anything about pecans at that point, so this was definitely educational. We had lived on Broadway St. in Wichita before that, right in the middle of a busy town (and hooker highway), so I'd never seen nut-bearing trees that I can remember, anyway. My dad told me native pecans are the best tasting, and I think he was right about that.

One summer my dad brought home a Potter nutcracker. 

I think he said he paid $50 for this cast iron miracle worker that cracks the shells while keeping the nut meats intact. That was probably around 1980. Now they cost well over $150 new, but you can find used ones on ebay. I paid around $50 for a used one. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the nice cover that keeps shells from flying all over, but I'm sure it will work ok. I need to get it mounted to a board and then I'll be good to go. These crackers are the best around and excellent for black walnuts - one of the hardest nuts to crack. Which reminds me...I need to pick up some walnuts, too!

I'm a little daunted by the amount of pecans I have gathered. I know I should stop, but the hunter/gatherer in me just can't quit. It's like an addiction once you get started, like you're gleaning treasure or something. I can't say I like the shelling as much. It's hard on your hands and slow-going. But there is a rhythm to it and, like gathering, a way to get your mind off of things. 

I'm also looking forward to making pecan pie this year. I use my mom's old Karo syrup recipe and it is really the best pie ever. When I was little I remember whenever Mom needed pecans for cookies or banana bread or pecan pie it was my job to crack a cup of pecans for her. It was fun. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Etsy store...not exactly original

I guess it's not all that surprising that one more person - yours truly - has opened up an Etsy store. 

It seems like the thing to do for people who make and create. I had considered it off and on over the past few years. I had a hard time with the idea of making things for an online storefront. Mostly it was an issue of not really having pride in what I can create. It's easy to belittle oneself when comparing. And there are some amazingly talented folks on Etsy. 

It's also hard to know what to charge, especially when you have so much time involved in creating something. We in the Western world have become accustomed to buying things that have been made very cheaply with slave labor in foreign countries. When someone wants to charge for the time they actually put into making an object, adding in cost for supplies, people balk like a horse spotting a venomous snake by its hoof. On a long online discussion about the costs of doing business as a artist/crafter and whether or not one should charge for one's time - in this instance a comparison was made between an artistic crocheted cap an artist was selling for $150 and a comparable store bought cap for $25 - one person said everybody knows Etsy is the place everyone get ideas. But not to buy. Depressing thought for those wanting to sell on Etsy, isn't it?

With that in mind here's a photo of a very inexpensive crocheted zill pouch I made. Very functional and cute...and only $6. If this sells I will make less than $2 an hour for my time - and any investment in supplies or time spent photographing and listing the item on Etsy don't count.

The copy cat issues lead me to another reason I stayed away from Etsy for a while. I didn't necessarily want my items to be copied. I'd already felt the sting of someone posting a photo of one of my hand made paisleys on their own site, as if they'd created the item themselves. This happened on a crafters site I belong to. And the person who pinched my photo and put it on their own page was from somewhere in India. I wouldn't be surprised if my design is now being worn on saris and skirts throughout that country. 

Here's my paisley photo that was pilfered. Pretty, isn't it? Those are fresh-water pearls around the edge and all the stitching is made by hand. Each paisley takes me 8-10 hours of detailed work. The end product can be used on crazy quilts, costumes or hair accessories. Now, how much should I charge for it?

I'm not the only one sensitive about copying. A friend who used to post really wonderful photos of nature on her Facebook page told me she no longer wants to because several people told her they "stole" her photo to put on their phone, or their desktop, or to share on Facebook. She had originally wanted to share beauty with the world, the way she saw it, but that feedback made her feel she had to protect her own creativity. Maybe she's busier these days, but I haven't seen her post photos like she used to.

Now here's an example of something I made that's not an original. This lovely little tatted heart is a free pattern I found online. I did, however, credit the source on my listing.

The truth is, it does hurt when someone copies your work and calls it their own, whether they create an exact facsimile or give it their own spin. We also feel a stab when someone takes something we've put thought, effort and time into and uses it for their own purposes, like my friend and her photos or my paisley. But if you really take a look at how we learn and how we create then we have to be honest that we are always taking ideas from everyone and everywhere, that with some things there just isn't a whole lot of originality. I'm not the first person to bead a paisley. I'm not the first person to make rings and chains, either, and neither are the other tatters out there. And many of us peruse vintage magazines for ideas. Many of us look at other's work and get ideas for our own designs. The originality comes in the unique twist you give an item.

I saw an interesting quote on Facebook today. It basically said once you find what you're good at it's your destiny to share it with the world. Since you can't share by withdrawing your talents, the only option is to put what you do out there if you are so willing.

I think it was The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron that said being original simply means going back to the origin. Maybe it's all about going back to the origin of what you do, who you are and how you see the world.

I remember watching Madonna morph into many different looks from the 80s when she got her start and throughout the height of her career. One thing you have to say about Madonna is she was constantly changing her look, constantly recreating herself. Of course, there were a lot of us wearing bedazzled and bejeweled faded jean jackets, gigantic bows in our hair and raggedy short skirts, but the thing about Madonna is she was always doing something new. When you are constantly recreating yourself and your art I think it's harder for people to keep up with you and, eventually, a lot of the copy cats fall by the wayside.

Maybe it's the same with an Etsy store. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The silk sari crocheted purse

The silk sari crocheted purse

I had not intended to write a blog about this silk sari purse I finished last month, but every time I am out I seem to get compliments on it, so here goes.

I purchased five or six skeins of this beautiful yarn several years ago. My understanding is the yarn is a recycled product, made by taking scraps of the beautiful long dresses worn by women in India - called saris - separating the silk fibers into threads and spinning the threads into yarn. This is a cottage industry with the work being performed by women in Nepal. The results are stunning, and many color pallets are available. The silk sari yarn I purchased has many different colors - purple, hot pink, sage green, turquoise and red - but the overall hue is the gorgeous magenta you see here.

The yarn I used might actually be living its third incarnation, now as a purse, because at first I made a couple scarves out of the yarn. I unwound one scarf, which was really a wide shawl, and later stitched up this purse. I only know how to single and double crochet - any thing I have with scalloped edges was made after watching tutorials - but that's all you need to make a simple purse like this one.

To make the purse body I crocheted a rectangle, keeping the ends where I turned to go the other direction as square and even as I could. The dimensions of the rectangle were 9" x 18". When folded in half the purse becomes a 9"x9" square.

I crocheted a strap long enough so I can wear the purse across my body, with the strap resting on my left shoulder so the purse hangs on my right side.

For the flowers, I chose embroidery floss colors - perle cotton size 8 - which would compliment the colors in the bag. Using buttons for the base and the smallest crochet hook out there, I made the flowers. I know I have a link somewhere for the tutorial that shows you how to make these flowers, but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, they are very easy to make and if you fiddle around with a button, crochet hook and some thread you can probably figure out how to do it. I also beaded the centers with complimentary seed beads, which makes the flowers stand out a little better. The only thing I don't like about the flowers is the petals tend to curl up. I need to go back and stitch them down so they look bigger and not so rumpled.

And that's as far as I got with this purse for well over a year. It sat in my UFO (UnFinished Object) box for ages. As I have been trying to weed out my UFOs this year, I suddenly felt inspired to finish it.

To finish I simply machine stitched the sides together. I know, that's kind of cheating. A purist would probably have scavenged some yarn to do up the sides, but machine stitching was much faster and less of a hassle. In the end, it's probably more secure. I'm not exactly easy on my purses and bags. The strap is also machine stitched to the sides, very securely. I wasn't taking any chances of losing a strap.

If you're going to make a purse you may as well do it right by adding a lining fabric. And with something woven like this that has fairly large holes between the threads you just about have to. I found a scrap of purple Bemberg lining (very nice stuff with a silky feel to it), stitched it up to size including a finished double seam at the top and inserted it into the purse where it was machine stitched in place. I actually made the lining a bit larger than the purse. If I hadn't then the purse would have no give and not be able to expand if I placed something bulky in it. That may be good or bad depending on one's intentions for a crocheted purse. Crochet is forgiving and I kind of like it more flexible, so that's what I did. 

I stitched the largest  snap I could find in the center - which is really a medium/large size snap - and found the turquoise flower bead to cover the snap. Voila! I was done. The finish work - which I usually dread - wasn't hard at all. Thanks to the machine stitching it went by very fast and I am happy to scratch another UFO off my to-do list.

Just for grins I'll leave you with a pic of the Scottish tam and scarf I made using the same yarn.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Tatted Mask

Well, here's a new experience for me. I haven't been able to keep a blog going in the past despite many attempts at it. I came to the conclusion I was trying too hard, trying to be something I am not by mimicking what others with fabulous blogs are doing. So, I've revamped things on my old blog and am giving this another shot.

One of the problems I have had in starting and maintaining a blog is feeling I had to limit myself to a particular subject matter. For someone who has interests all over the place - from tatting and belly dance costuming to 2012 and spirituality - limiting oneself to a particular topic is more than a challenge, it's downright impossible. And at the moment I can think of about five different things I'd like to discuss right off the bat.

But, to keep things straightforward and simple I'm going to do my best to limit myself to one topic per blog. If I have multiple things to discuss, I'll create multiple blogs. Or not. Best not to have too many rules, right?

One fun thing I wanted to talk about is the new mask I am tatting for Halloween.

I was inspired to make the mask by TotusMel who is a fantastic needle tatter. Check out her Etsy store by clicking the link.

Other than the basic idea for the mask, the addition of metallic thread on the outer portion of the black, and the design of the purple trim, the mask is my own creation. Sort of. I still have to give props to TotusMel for inspiring me to make this and acknowledge that I am pilfering her ideas. (She has a tatted mask tutorial on her blog if you want to make your own using her pattern and instructions.)

Anyway, for the main stitching I used a clover pattern I taught myself while trying to recreate a piece of antique tatted lace I purchased a couple years ago. It took me ages to figure out how to do it, but at last I succeeded. The clover pattern worked fairly well around the wire eye openings with the addition of two rings at the corners. To extend the bottom of the mask I added a few more chains and rings.

The purple edging is made of long chains, small rings and a bead at the end of each ring. It looks curly in the photo because I have not yet ironed it down. I need to do that soon, though, because I'm not sure metallic thread will hold up to heat very well and I want to iron it before I finish adding the thread detail in case it proves to be delicate. I will also add beading similar to TotusMel's Such a Sad Love mask.

If you look closely you will see that the center ring where I connected the two wire eye openings was not a success. If I make another mask in the future I will use a tatted flower to join the two, rather than creating a mere ring that goes wonky the way this one did. 

I hope I get to wear the mask. Almost every year my husband and I go trick-or-treating with his niece and nephew and it's always a lot of fun. A lot of walking, but a lot of fun. And we almost always dress up. I usually end up wearing a belly dance outfit and I'm guessing this year I'll do the same, as I've got loads of costumes this mask would compliment. Once I get it finished I'll post another photo.