Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anatomy of a Design

Now that I’m coming back from cloud nine after my win this weekend, I’m finally able to post about something that I’ve been wanting to for a very long time. It’s all about my designing process and, in this case, graphing out a new project.

Designing a new project can be very easy- it can come as an inspiration that hits as fast as lightning and comes to life like Athena popping out of Zeus. Or, it can begin as a small flicker of an idea deep within the recesses of your mind and slowly germinates to maturity over the days, weeks, months, or years. Both of these methods can be very rewarding….and sometimes very frustrating. I’ve been working on a design that has been flashing in the back of my mind for quite some time now. It’s been slow to come to fruition but, now that it’s here, I’m so freakin’ excited!!!

One of my “things” is that I draw little 5 petal flowers all over the place. Just a random doodle that marks my territory no matter where I may find a writing utensil and surface to deface. I’ve always been a doodler- it helps me to focus, really. In college, I used to write my married name over and over and over again, well before my Mister ever put a ring on it. Whether overconfident or just a plain creeper, I covered everything with my name. And flowers. And little hearts. I’m a girl- sue me.

I’ve been trying for ages to transfer my little flowers from paper to crochet. I’ve tried graphing it out many times over the last couple years and became ever more frustrated with my failures. I have an idea for a bag that is just dying to come out and I’ve not been able to get this stupid little flower just right! Well, I’m extremely excited to announce that success is finally mine! It wasn’t easy and came by lots of trial and error, but all of my frustration has finally paid off.

First, I drew some flowers on my new graph paper and then filled in the blocks that seemed to be appropriate.

Don't listen to them- you look beautiful to me.

Yeah- that looks dumb. The problem is that I couldn’t draw my flower to be symmetrical enough for me on the graph paper. I ended up finding a picture of a real 5 petal flower, printing it out and then tracing it on my graph paper.

Well...if you turn your head just a bit and squint your eyes....

Ehh….close, but still….no. By slowly tweaking where the boxes were, I was able to come up with a design I could live with. The first one I tried, crocheted, and test felted was too big. So, I tried scaling it down. Then it was too small (and kind of looked like a fat headed little man).

It's big because it's full of brains, I tell ya!

Argh. Then, I was able to find a happy medium and I knew it was just right.

Well...almost just right...

I started on my bag right away, but found that I had placement issues. So, instead of frogging the 4 flowers I had made, I decided to use them for something I’ve needed forever- a case for my hooks.

Mama likes!

I just need to add a zipper and VOILA! My pouch is the perfect size for all my hooks- even my long Tunisian ones!

Now, look at this side:

Mama likes even more!!

WHAT THE WHAT??? I know!!! I have discovered needle felting and it is my new favorite. I am so in love!! I can now draw on my finished product! See how I was able to soften the blockish look of the edges? I used Tunisian crochet for this which means each stitch is a square. It’s great for square-ish things (like 8-bit Nintendo games), but for round objects, it leaves a little to be desired. Well, with needle felting a yarn border around my image, my dilemma is solved. AND, it makes a gorgeous finished object! (You can see the black border on my first test square, as well as a yellow border around the center.  Not too sold on that yet...)

I do have this chart complete- it (and the bag pattern) will be available just as soon as I finish my bag. I’ve been working feverishly on it for the last few weeks (minus a break for the SWS Turtle Bag), but hopefully will have it done in the next 2 weeks. I forgot how much I really enjoy Tunisian crochet! I just hope it comes out as good in real life as it looks in my head. I’m using white wool for the purse- a white background with colorful flowers, so I’m really hoping they won’t bleed too much. Maybe I should heavily invest in Shout Color Catchers……. Anyone have experience with them? Do they work?? Reviews are greatly appreciated!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Life of a Movie Star

Wow.  That's all I can say about last night.  Ok- not *all* I can say- Lord knows I can be quite verbose- but still...WOW!

As I mentioned last Monday, I was attending the showing of my film, Lilly's Thorn, at the World Music and Independent Film Festival in Washington, DC.  My Mister, sister and I parked by the correct building but were trying to find the right entrance. As we were walking by one corner, my sister said, "It's right here."  After wondering how she inherited psychic superpowers and I didn't, I then saw how she knew.

Gege, meet Lilly.

EEEEP!!  Seeing your face on a large poster in a window in Washington, DC is quite awesome.  Being recognized by the people inside is even awesomer.  (It's a word- look it up.)  For you observant readers out there, yes, I'm wearing my sister's Marilyn bag- I had borrowed it for my Canada trip.  Hey- it was a trip where we were going to meet fellow knitters and crocheters and I had to represent both crochet (let's be honest- knitters usually get all the attention) and my mad crochet and design skeelz, ya know?  And represent, I did.  That bag really is a head turner!  Even the folks at the festival were commenting on it. :)
It was a 9pm showing on a Monday, so I didn't expect many viewers in attendance and I was right.  Rocky Yost, the writer/producer/casting director/promoter of the film was there, as well, and he and I did a small question/answer for the folks who did attend.  I've always wanted to do that!  Hee!

June Daguiso, me, and Rocky

Since there were so few people, I was able to meet with June Daguiso, the Festival's founder.  I told him how excited I was to be nominated for Best Actress and that we were planning on attending Saturday's Award Ceremony/Gala.  He told me that, if I was planning on attending, to come around 10:30/11 so I can be interviewed for the event and then maybe stick around for the award ceremony that started at 1 after the luncheon that would be served.

On the way home, my Mister said, "Did you kind of get the feeling like he was basically saying you weren't going to win?"  I said, "Yeah...he would have been a little more persuasive in telling me to attend.  A little *wink wink* *nudge nudge*."  "Yeah.  That's what I thought, too.  Especially when he said that the really big movies who have multiple nominations are being shown on Thursday.  I'm sorry honey."

So, I was a little bummed, but not too much since I was in competition with "real" actresses like Dana Delaney.  Jack Hartman, who played my father in Lilly's, was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor and was up against Aidan Quinn, among others.  So, I can honestly say that it truly was an honor to just be nominated.

As the week progressed, we were discussing what was going to happen on Saturday.  My Mister was all for me doing the interview portion- networking with fellow actors and movie makers is a good thing in this industry.  It's also extremely nerve wracking.  Especially when you are already nervous about being nominated for Best Actress yet you know you're not going to win anyway, but you still want to attend the Gala, but really, why get your hopes up, especially when it's a relatively small Film Festival and most likely not many people will attend, so why worry about attending, anyway? *Big inhale*

Yeah- I was a mite neurotic about the whole thing.  Friday night, I was up till 1:30 trying on dresses for the Gala.  My Mister was groggily telling me that I looked great while I yelled at him to actually turn around and open his eyes.  HOW CAN HE SLEEP AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!?

I told my sister I would be at her place at 9:30am and then my Mister would meet us there at 10 and we'd drive together to DC.  Well, remember last posting what I said about me and planning?  Yeah- none of that happened.

I set my alarm for 7:30 but promptly (and anxiously) woke up at 6:30,  ran to the shower and repeatedly called my sister to let her know I was going to be there much earlier than expected so we could get ready together.  After calling 7 times, she finally answered.  Luckily (for her) she was already up and was eating breakfast, so I didn't have to yell at her, too.

After stopping at Walmart for some essentials (such as makeup- I really don't wear that much and thought this would be a good day to pull out all the stops), I arrived at her place where we both excitedly got ready.  It was like prom all over again- so fun!

Sisters, Sisters, There were never such devoted sisters.

I  asked my Mister to meet us at 10, but he so tactfully and sensitively responded, "Why?  You're not going to win, anyway.  It'll be best to drive separately so I can go home early."

Ouch, Honey.  I knew he was right, but still.  One thing I love about my Mister is that he is filled with integrity.  If he says he'll do something, he will.  However, that also means that he is completely, and sometimes brutally, honest.  (Granted, with the way things more often than not just fly out of my mouth and completely bypass my brain, I can be equally brutally honest.) I know he didn't mean that as a reflection of my talent- he's just a very realistic counterpoint to my very idealistic outlook on life. 

Anywho, my sis and I left a little later than I had hoped to, but my lead foot fixed that minor inconvenience.  The new plan was to meet my Mister there so that my sis and I could stay and he could go home early instead of sitting through 5 hours of an award ceremony at which we both (realistically) knew I wasn't going to win anything. 

We arrived in time for me to be interviewed and got to chat with Jack Hartman, the very talented actor who portrayed Lilly's dad.  I hadn't seen him in nearly 2 years, so it was a wonderful reunion.

Lilly takes after her mom...for reals, yo.
After the interviewing portion, everyone was getting ready to be seated for the luncheon.  Well....again with the planning and me....  On Monday, I had told June that I would be attending with my husband and sister.  We had later emailed and I told him, again, that we three would be attending.  Well, the thing is, we still needed tickets to prove that we were to be there.  It was a big brouhaha and ended with the Festival people finally (and very graciously) saying we could have their seats since everyone else had (intelligently) already paid and had assigned seating.  All we had to do was pay for the tickets.  Well....we didn't realize that those tickets cost beaucoup bucks-  beaucoup bucks that we did not have on the door.   So, we put those poor people through the paces to get us seats just to go down the street and eat some sandwiches at Cosi.  Oops. 

After lunch, I said, "Why don't we just save money and go home now?  I'm not going to win and I've already done my interview, so let's go."  My sister, who was so excited to attend the award ceremony, strongly opposed this suggestion and talked me into staying.  I then talked my Mister into staying, as well.  I was still anxious, nervous, and a little frustrated with the whole lunch thingy, so I really could use him there.  He agreed to stay by my side. (He is very supportive of me- and very patient.  I don't deserve that man!)

We got back a little after 1 and, thankfully, they were a little behind schedule for the award ceremony.  We went inside and very quitely sat on the sidelines, out of the way, while everyone else was at their tables having just finished with lunch.  After 2 awards were presented, the Festival people came up to us and said, "We're not going to be at our seats, please come with us and you can have them."  We, feeling bad for putting them through so much stress earlier, graciously accepted.  We followed them through the crowd....and followed them........and followed them.......alllllll the way up to the front.  We were at table 3, which just happened to be smack dab in front of center stage.  Yeah.  We got to walk in front of the whole crowd to the very front of the room.  *dying of embarrassment*

There were eight categories of awards being presented, each section divided by a musical performance by one of the Musical nominees.  It was a blast!  My film was up for 8 awards- 6 of which were already announced and we didn't win any of them.  Some of the bigger movies/actors/musicians had won, including OK/GO for best video and a couple wins for Route 30. My category, being one of the "big ones" was the very last one of the evening.  I had no expectations, which was great- it allowed me to enjoy the evening without being overly nervous.

They announced Best Director which we were up for...and didn't win.  They announced Best Actor.  Best Actress was next.  I asked my Mister to record them just so we can have video proof of my name being announced as a nominee.  Want to see it?!?  I knew you did. :)

(Best viewed in full screen- my Mister was recording on his phone vertically, which made it vertical in the upload, too.)


WHAT THE WHAT?!??!?!?!?!??!?!  For those of you who were unwilling or unable to view the clip, I TOTALLY WON!!!!!!!   Completely did not expect that!!!  You can hear my Mister's and sister's very excited reactions.  My Mister was so shocked, he hit stop on the camera.  He then (as I later found out) leaned over to kiss me, but, as you can see, I bolted pretty quickly.  All I could think of was, Don't trip on the table cloth.  Don't trip on the table cloth.  HURRY! I better snatch that trophy before they realize they made a mistake!

My Mister got the camera working again in time for my thank you speech, which I had not prepared, at all.  Here's me, flying by the seat of my pants.

Yep- I totally called out my Mister on stage.  See what I mean about things flying out of my mouth?

You love me! You really love me!

It was a completely surreal experience!  That June Daguiso- he completely had us fooled!  Good job on not giving anything away!  We had an amazing night.  Could not have gone any better in my wildest dreams!  As I said earlier- WOW!!

I hope you enjoyed the recap of my day as a "movie star."  Hey- I did star in a movie, so I guess the term applies, right?  :)  WHY ARE YOU LOOKING ME IN THE EYES???  I said only WHITE M&Ms!!  No W's!!!!!  Heads will roll!  Get my agent on the line!!!!!

2010 WMIFF Best Actress WINNER!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh, Canada!

Alright.  I finally have time to recount our escapades in Canada- it was quite an amazing adventure!  Are you ready?  Come on, eh?

I'll buy a vowel, Pat. An "eh" please.

We began our little trip by driving ~7.5 hours and crossed the border into Niagara, Ontario.  We arrived around 2pm thinking that we would have all afternoon to spend touring the falls and then leave at a decent time in the morning to Listowel where The Yarn Factory Outlet is located.  Yeah......planning and I don't really get along all that well and, well, you know what they say about birds of a feather.  Birds of a feather drive-all-day-into-another-country-just-to-spend-the-afternoon-crocheting-in-the-hotel-room-and-end-up-taking-a-nap together.  (Well, not "together", but....oh you know.)

Yep.  We spent our first afternoon in another country- one where thousands of people flock each year to view the majestic sights and wonders- napping.  In all honesty, it was AWESOME.  I was exhausted from the drive and, well, it was the first vacation I've been on where it was totally ok to just....chill.  No stress.  No plans. No schedules.  Just....relax.  What a concept for a vacation, eh?

We ended up waking up around 7pm and realized, Hey! We're in a different country! Let's explore!  After getting some pizza delivery, of course.  So, we ordered in the Niagara, Ontario world famous pizza- Little Caesars.  Hmmmm.....not quite getting the whole "exploration" thing yet, but we were still fighting the groggies from the epic nap.  (BTW- the pizza was gross.  No offense to our Canadian neighbors, but it truly is ok to use salt in the sauce.  A little hypertension never hurt anyone.)

We then decided to take a little walk outside of our hotel.  We were right off the water and (as we found on Sunday) about a minute from the Niagara Whirlpool.  But, it was getting dark, so we didn't have much hope of seeing anything all that spectacular.  It was ok- we were driving back on Sunday and had nothing planned, so we could do our touring of Niagara then.  Since we were right by the water, and since it is still summer, and since my blood must be mosquito's crack, I debated on whether or not to use my OFF.

Me: Do you think they have mosquitoes out here?
Lyteyz: *pause*  Well, it is still planet earth, right?
Me: *blink*  Shut up.

America and mosquitoes across the water...and a wondrous Canadian tree blocking the view

Since we were no longer tired, we had all night to spend however we wanted to- no dinner to cook. No babies to change. No husbands to appease.  So, we did something we haven't done in forever- went out to a 10:30pm movie.  (!!)  We saw The Other Guys and I think my abs are still sore from all the laughing.  It was HYSTERICAL!  As an aside, Lyteyz is the best person you can watch a funny movie with- her laugh is so infectious and her reactions just slay me.  I love her!!

The next morning, we spent some time at Souvenir City and bought gifts for our family.  I hope they like their post cards.  (What?  More gifts for them = less yarn for me.  Der.)  We also took this awesome pic for my mom.

(Actual conversation the weekend before we left.)
Mom:'re going to Canada without your Mister?
Me: Yes! My friend and I are going on a yarn binge! It's going to be awesome!
Mom: You girls be careful.  They have grizzlies out there and you don't have your men to protect you.
Me: *stifling laugh* We'll be careful, mom.
Mom:  I hate bears.  They eat people.

 Run lyteyz, run! Once he's done with that fish, you're next!

And then we were finally off to Listowel.  It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Niagara through some beautiful Mennonite farming communities.

Not a Mennonite farm, but pretty none-the-less.

We have quite a few pictures of the farming communities on the drive there.  Listowel was in the middle of nowhere and I was really wondering if the mill would be connected to a farm.  Listowel truly was a very cute little town and the mill may very well have been connected to a farm; however, I wouldn't know since I had complete tunnel vision once I saw the tent with all the woolly goodness inside.  Apparently, Lyteyz was very tunnel visioned, as well, since this is the only picture we have of my yarn Mecca.

Can you see the awesomeness?!?

Yeah.  Well, you're just going to have to take my word for it.  Once you walked in to the tent, there was a lovely lady who offered us a "shopping bag" - a black, 30-gallon trash bag.  I about died laughing!  And then I about knocked the lovely lady over as I attacked the bins of yarn like a grizzly attacks people.  It was filled with all types of Patons, Lily, and Bernat yarns.  I went specifically for some Patons Wool and SWS.  (No seriously- I drove all the way to Canada specifically for those yarns- this whole trip was for some Patons.  I'm nothing if not loyal.)

This is my haul:

Upon getting home, my mister immediately saw the huge garbage bag.

(Actual reactions)
Me: Hi Mister!  Did you miss me?
Mister: Yes! How did......what is that big bag?
Me:  That would be my shopping bag.
Mister: *pause* *squints eyes*  I hate you.

Whatever- he'll forgive me.  One of these days....

*in total wool coma*

Yes. I know.  Be jealous.  Do you know how many felted bags are in there???  Actually, if you can see in the middle right, there are 2 skeins of yarn on top of a bag.  That is because I busted open that bag in the car ride home and started on a bag.  And then I finished it yesterday.

Patons SWS Turtle Handbag
I know I've shown my Traveling Turtle bag, but I don't think I've shown its little sister- the Turtle Handbag.

Turtle Power!

I've been working on this pattern for a while and was able to finish writing it with this bag. However, I need to finish the second Traveling Bag just to have wool yardage.  I LOVE how this bag came out!!  I was hoping to find this specific SWS colorway (Natural Crimson) on my trip.  I think I would have been very sad had I not found it, but instead, I've got a beautiful handbag!

From Listowel, we headed out to Toronto where we stayed two nights.  The whole purpose of going to Toronto was to visit the yarn store we hit on Saturday- Romni Wools.  Oh.My.Lanta.  I have NEVER seen so much yarn in one place!!  It was simply amazing!!!!!

1/4 of the store....not including the basement
1/4 of the basement- the Cone Portion
The Spinning portion of the basement
Debra and Jacqueline worked in the basement of the store and were sooo nice!  I saw the spinning tools and started asking questions.  They asked me if I wanted to learn.  I LOVE THIS PLACE!  They taught me how to use a drop spindle (I won one as one of my Bobby Awards- more on that at a later date) and I had so much fun!

You spin me right round baby

 If you are ever in Toronto, you MUST stop at Romni.  The basement is filled with clearance yarns, which is awesome.  The yarns on the top floor were truly amazing, but....well....a little pricey.  However, it truly was a sight to behold.  Seriously- wow.  

On Sunday, after we got over our Romni Wool hangover, we left Toronto back to Niagara to finish up our touring.  Lessons learned after an hour and a half of frustrations on the Ontario side: if you visit Niagara Falls, stop in the New York side.  Parking is cheaper ($10 vs. $20); you are a 5 minute walk to the Falls vs. a mile or two, and you are actually very close to the water.  It was amazing!

Canada across the water...and a couple of wondrous Americans blocking the view.
We had an amazing time!  The really awesome thing is that our husbands think it's a good idea to let us have another trip again next year.  See- I told you he'd forgive me. ;)  

So, Lyteyz, where to next year?  TNNA?  Stitches South?  The Crochet Guild of America? The possibilities are endless!  I'll be sure to pack my mosquito and bear repellents and ensure there's plenty of space in the car for our hauls.  Love you girl!

PS: Check out Lyteyz blog where you can get her perspective of our trip. :)  (I wasn't kidding when I said I about knocked the lovely lady over at the Tent Sale....)  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Film Festival Tonight!!

Hey guys- in my excitement over my trip this weekend (finally back late last night- recap and lots of woolly goodness coming soon), I forgot all about the World Music and Independent Film Festival this week in DC. My movie, Lilly’s Thorn, is showing tonight at 9pm. So excited!! It’ll be the first time for my Mister and my sister to see me on the big screen. (Second time for me- I attended the New Hope Film Festival a little bit ago- sooo cool to see my name up there!)

Anywho- check out the website- you can vote for your favorite trailer. Also, if you check here, you can see videos of the various nominees- including little ol’ me- I’m nominated for Best Actress!! WOOT!!

See y'all there!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

News From the Road

Hey y'all!  I am writing to you today from a hotel just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  What am I doing in Canada, eh?  I'm having the time of my life and spending all my money on yarn!!!!

Sometime last year, I found the Mecca of yarn stores for me- The Yarn Factory Outlet in Listowel, Ontario.  This awesomest place in the world happens to be the very mill where my beloved Patons Classic Wool is made.  I've wanted to come here ever since I learned that my wool wasn't made by little Lamb Fairies but was actually produced in a factory.  Weird, eh?

Well, my Mister, who supports all my yarnie adventures, just wasn't interested in driving 7 hours "just to see a yarn store."  I tried conducting an exorcism on this obvious evil spirit that inhabited my beloved, but after he threatened to have me committed, I decided to put my dream road trip on hold.

Fast forward a couple months when we were visiting one of my BFF's, who also happens to be an obsessed crocheter, and I casually brought up my desire to visit yarn Mecca.  She agreed that I was a genius and that we should have a girl-only road trip "one of these days."  Fast forward to a few weeks ago- we finally planned out our trip and decided to leave hubbies, babies, and inhibitions behind while we made our yarn dreams come true.  It's like Thelma and Louise with crochet hooks instead of guns.  And no suicides.  That would suck.

We both have had terrible 2010's AND we both have August birthdays, so this trip has been just all around perfect.  We spent the afternoon at the Outlet and I am still enjoying my wool high.  Oh, did I mention that they happen to have a yearly tent sale each August?  And that we hit it at just the right time?  And that I'm soooo glad I drive an SUV???  Muaha! Muahahahaha!  MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

*wiping tears from eyes and foam from mouth*

Ok, I'd better log off before more than just my Mister thinks I should be committed.

I was working on a different blog post- all about the Anatomy of a Design since I finally found a project that banished my Crochet ADD.  You are all going to love it!!!  More to come on that later.  For now, I've got wool to snort.

These Crochet Chicks are Too Legit to Knit