Creative 2017

Whatever happened to Creative 17?

by Suw on December 6, 2017

Welp, it’s been a while since my last post about my Creative 2017. When I started the year, I had a feeling that I might run aground in the lead up to Ada Lovelace Day, and sure enough, time to blog became scarce. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t being creative.

Since learning to knit in May, I have become ridiculously addicted. I have been working on a simple ribbed skirt, and have done a pair of wrist-warmers. I had less luck with two hats, one of which was too small, the other too big, and both of which got frogged and are now being turned into a scarf. But it is really lovely to just sit and knit of an evening. Somehow, it’s more soothing than crochet, though I’m not sure why.

There was always an ulterior motive, though, to this whole project, and that was to try to get my authorial juices flowing. In that, the year has been a spectacular success. I started work on my current project in earnest a couple of weeks ago, and am really enjoying myself.

Thanksgiving weekend, we went down to visit friends in Illinois, and on the way stopped off at an antiques mall in Milwaukee to see if a typewriter I’d had my eye on for a while was still there. It was. A Remington Rand Streamliner, well cared for and, along with its case, in beautiful condition. I couldn’t resist.

The serial number tells us that this particular machine was built in May 1941, one of only 21,200 ever made. They were manufactured between February 1941 and May 1942, and cost $49.50. It’s a shame that then didn’t make more, because this is by far and away the most beautiful machine to type on that we own. I now have five typewriters, and Kevin one, and this Streamliner is the easiest and smoothest to use, with the softest action. It’s the most amazing machine to write with, it really is.

I did have to get a new ribbon, which was easily done through Ebay. And I cleaned up the typebars, which were as clogged with ink as you might expect.

The type now is so beautifully crisp and clear. In the photo below, we have example prior to and after cleaning.

Overall, the machine is in great condition, just a little bit of rust on the frame and a bit of dirt underneath that will need removing. I will eventually get the platen recovered, along with the rubber rollers, but it’s ok for now.

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is to work on this machine. It feels much more natural than writing on my laptop. My fingers have to move more deliberately, and my brain is slowed down to a much more thoughtful speed. It’s easy for my fingers to get completely carried away with themselves when I’m using modern equipment, and they tend to run off down cul-de-sacs that they can’t get themselves out of. Using a typewriter gives me the time I need to think ahead, to write in a more considered way.

I’ve also got a much better way of organising my notes than I’ve ever had, which I’ll cover in another post. And I realised that I really, really struggle with the whole consecutive numbering of pages thing, so instead of numbering pages, I am giving each scene a serial number (the date, actually, and maybe an alphabetical signifier if I’m writing more than one scene in a day). This means it’s easier for me to move scenes around without triggering whatever part of my brain it is that loathes interrupting logical number sequences.

The cleaner typebars also mean that Google Docs can do a better job of the OCR, although the first 7,000 words contain a lot of OCR errors that I’ll have to sit and fix soon. But overall, my process is working well, I’m enjoying writing, and I’m in no great hurry to have it all done. Which is a much better result than I had ever anticipated when I started this year!

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C17: Day 228-252 – Just plodding along

by Suw on September 9, 2017

I haven’t blogged for ages because there’s not been much to say. I’m just embroidering away, trying to get this done before I leave for the UK at the end of the month. I’m not sure if I’ll make it, though the tunic is the bulk of the work so who knows how fast the rest of it will come along. I did have to pick out one bit, because I wasn’t happy with how it came out. Anyway, I’ve been focusing on embroidering rather than blogging!


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C17: Day 227 – Two thirds of the vine

by Suw on August 15, 2017

Two thirds of the vine is done, and it’s looking good!


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C17: Day 226 – And so we begin

by Suw on August 14, 2017

This line of pale green represents 50 minutes’ work. Hopefully, I’ll get a bit faster as I go along…


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C17: Days 222-225 – Ready to rock

by Suw on August 13, 2017

I was busy Thursday and Friday evenings, but it was probably a good thing because yesterday and today I spent 1.5 hours getting the silk ground and backing fabrics prepared, transferring the pattern and then getting it all set up on my Millennium Frame. All of that needs to be done carefully and that means setting aside a block of time rather than trying to do 10-15 mins a day.

I had a bit of a moment when my iron spewed water all over the piece of silk that I wanted to use as the ground, leaving a water stain. I dug out another piece of silk but I couldn’t get the creases out so had a look online to see what I could do about the water mark. It’s apparently caused by minerals in the water precipitating out as the water dries, something which you notice on silk because it’s so sheer, whereas you wouldn’t see it on, say, cotton. The lesson here is to either empty your iron before you iron silk, or to replace the water with fresh so that there are fewer minerals to precipitate out.

One treatment seems to be to rub the silk with a clean piece of white silk, which I happened to have on hand (oddly enough) and which seemed to work. My challenge now will be to keep the ground clean whilst I work, which will mean having a piece of fabric with a hole cut in it to drape over the work whilst I embroider so that I’m not transferring oils from my hand on to the silk. That will come tomorrow. For today, I’m just happy to have it framed up and ready to go.

If you’re wondering, the green painter’s tape is just to prevent fraying on the edges of the silk. I’d have used just normal masking tape, but I don’t have any wide enough to fold around the edge. The edges will be trimmed off prior to the finished piece being laced to a board and framed. Also, if you’re wondering why one corner is a bit wonky, it’s because this is an offcut from my wedding dress! Ultimately that will also be trimmed away when it’s framed. If I was going to be super fussy, I’d lace the left- and right-hand edges to the frame, but the design area is taut enough, I think.

So, tomorrow, we get going!


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The crochetpocalypse is over, as last night was the Women in STEM Amigurumi workshop I’d agreed to do and had been working towards. In the end, we had a fun evening, although most of the attendees were beginners so I spent the time teaching the magic ring and double crochet (single in USian). Mead Library did an amazing job of putting together the kits, and I’m looking forward to running a beginners course with them next year.

But tonight I had a chance to do the last test for the embroidered knight and snail, which was a mixed colour leaf. I just wanted to check that it would work the way I expected it to.

So, soon I shall be ready to do the real thing!

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Welp, it’s been another one of those weeks. The emergency crochet continued until I had four reliable patterns ready for Tuesday’s workshop. The third figure is Dr Anandibai Joshi, who is also my favourite:

The fourth will be published next month.

Interrupting all that was the arrival of parts for my new Hackintosh, which has necessitated a few evenings spent dealing with computery things. My poor laptop is struggling somewhat, and really will need a factory reset and a new keyboard soon, so getting a desktop Hackintosh became a bit of a priority. The new desktop goes like shit off a stick and is a joy to use, so it was worth both the money and the time.

But finally, today, I got the chance to do more embroidery, the second of two days that have so far gone unblogged. I’m still of two minds with the knight’s tunic, whether or not I like the darker plum with the lavender. I’m thinking not, right now. I also tested two strand long-and-short stitch (below the belt) against the single strand stitch (above the belt) and really do prefer the single strand. It’s just easier to get a smooth finish.

I’ve also dug out the silk and backing fabric so that I’ll be ready to get the final set-up done one evening this week, and then I can start embroidering in earnest.

However, this week has emphasised that I am getting into my busy season now ahead of ALD on 10 Oct, an I just may not have the time to do something every day. So it goes.

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Dr Eugenie Clark

Dr Eugenie Clark

So, I haven’t blogged for nearly a week, primarily because I haven’t embroidered since Sunday last, and then I didn’t finish the particular test I wanted to do, so there was nothing to blog about. I have, however, been creative. Very creative.

I’m running a workshop at Mead Public Library here in Sheboygan on 8 August about crocheting women in STEM, and had promised that I’d have four patterns ready. The sudden realisation that I had only one and a half (Dr Mae Jemison needs a tweak as her neck is floppy) combined with the lack of other deadlines to result in my spending much of Monday and half of Tuesday feverishly crocheting new figures, and continuing to crochet each evening. I’ve still got a few bits left to finish up, but normal service will be resumed soon!


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C17: Day 203 – The sword

by Suw on July 22, 2017

I had three goals for today’s work:

  1. Find out of a single strand stem stitch for the edge of the sword works as well as the double strand, and I have to say that I don’t think it does. It just doesn’t really stand out.
  2. Find out if I should fill the whole sword. I think half would be better (I did just over half as I originally thought I’d fill the whole area).
  3. Whether I should use satin stitch or French knots, and I think the knots are better in this instance.

Not much left to test now, just the knight’s robe, and a few more leaf tests. Then I’ll be ready to set up the real thing!

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Green and Bayeux stitch or green and satin stitch? With stem stitch edge or not?

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C17: Day 200 – Shield front

July 19, 2017

I really changed my mind about front of the shield. I thought about doing a vertical long and short stitch, but it just didn’t feel right, so instead I went for a satin stitch in a radial pattern. I didn’t mark out the directions, which I will do when I do it for real so […]

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C17: Day 199 – More snail

July 18, 2017

Not going to complete that area because this isn’t a colour choice issue, it’s a stitch issue and I’m happy with the split stitch to give it a bit of texture.

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C17: Day 198 – More snail

July 17, 2017

Short entry today: I worked on the snail again, but haven’t finished it, so photos tomorrow!

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C17: Day 197 – Another leaf

July 16, 2017

Colour testing two reds, one more of a plum. And practicing fishbone stitch.

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C17: Days 195 & 196 – Snail test

July 15, 2017

I was feeling a bit ropey yesterday, so saved up that time for the snail test today. Although, to be honest, I probably spent a couple of hours on it whilst I was watching Wimbledon, which is slightly more than the 10-15 mins per day I had originally imagined spending! Anyway, this test is slightly […]

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