new top!

I made this tank top and brought it on our trip to Chicago. It was perfect for the heat wave that hit us (daytime temp of 40°C+!!) during the trip.

new top 1

I bought this fabric from a craft show last year. Probably a good material to make dress shirts or blouses, but I don’t have patterns to make those. I just traced a tank top that I had, and after all the seams were sewn I hemmed all the raw edges by rolling them in a couple of times and sewing them in place. After the top was made I thought adding a pocket would make it look more interesting with the diagonal stripes. 

Pretty rudimentary. I didn’t even measure, which resulted in the top being too narrow when it was first made, so I resorted to adding a strip of fabric on each side under the arm. You can kind of see it in this picture…

new top 2

… which made the armholes a bit too big, but I don’t mind it too much. Oh yes, and I make a diagonal hemline where the back is longer than the front. It was kind of an experiment. I keep seeing dresses and skirts with that kind of hemline and was wondering if I just have to cut the fabric diagonally to achieve the “high-low” effect. 

And we took the photos while walking through Grant Park :D

Next time I make a tank top I can probably trace this one, except make the armholes smaller. Measuring before cutting would probably be a good idea too :P

Hope everyone’s having a good week!

 

levitating in chicago

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This was taken at the Art Institute. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but with the lush green trees filtering the sunlight, the sound of the fountain and the significantly cooler air in the shade, it felt as though it was an elven garden.

 

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On the waterfront between Grant Park and Millennium Park.

 

Didn’t take as many levitating photos as I hoped. We took public transit and walked everywhere, my legs were too tired to jump on most days :S But I’m happy with the two we took :D

Have a happy Sunday, everyone! 

 

chicago drawings

And we’re back! :D

Before I went on the trip to Chicago, I made a (small) goal to make one drawing a day, based on whatever I saw on that day. It was intended to be a way for me to get back into drawing, but it had really unfolded into a time of reflection, relishing the day, treasuring quiet time shared with Mike, and thinking more about what I saw, learned and experienced and how I was moved by these things.

The drawings are in a notebook that Mike gave me. It has this quote printed in it:

The past is a ghost, the future is a dream and all we ever have is now.” — Bill Cosby

 

July 18 — we visited the Shedd Aquarium. We learned about how the health and well-being of life in the sea, in the sky and on land are all connected. I made this drawing at night in our hotel room. The words that came from the drawing: Corals, barnacles, kelp, seaweeds, jellies, one ocean.

day 1

 

July 19 — we visited the Adler Planetarium. Before heading to Millennium Park, we stopped at a Dunkins Donut for $1 iced coffee and free WiFi. Through the store window I was looking at the iron and wood structure of the elevated train tracks that run through the city, and the owl statue on top of the public library. Earlier in the day, we saw drawings of how early astrologists recorded, tracked, and made sense of the stars they saw in the sky. A volunteer told us about light pollution and how we don’t see stars in the city anymore. Still earlier in the day, when we were waiting for the bus heading to the Planetarium, we chatted with a man who asked us to help him out with breakfast and then started to tell us about himself. He said he got complacent. So, I guess this is kind of a prayer.

May we find our light again
Our North Star
May we rest in the knowledge and the faith that it is still here
Even when we don’t see it

day 2

 

July 20 — Visited the Museum of Science and Industry. Saw a film about the endangered coral reefs, and was amazed by the sea slug swimming. I suppose this is also a wish.

The humble sea slug dancing, sending waves rippling across the ocean, reclaiming space.

day 3

 

July 21 — we visited the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio that day. Really inspired by how he blended architecture with the surrounding environment, and his use of geometrical patterns that were inspired by nature. And in the front yard of his home there was a ginkgo tree — my favourite tree — the largest, tallest, most majestic ginkgo tree I’ve ever seen. Mike and I sat at a Starbucks before meeting up with a friend. I drew while he read blogs. Bliss.

Desire of the human heart to be attuned to the rhythm of nature.

day 4

 

July 22 — Visited the Field Museum. Most amazed by the bioluminescence exhibit. Learned about why certain creatures and plants glow (i.e. mating, discourage predators “I glow, therefore I taste bad!”, burn off excess energy, etc.). Also fascinated by prehistoric sea creatures, before the dinosaurs, in the Evolving Earth exhibit. Had a thought about making plushes of those creatures. 

The art of survival.

day 5

 

 

July 23 — On our last day in Chicago, we visited the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Being a social work student I have read a lot about Jane Addams and her work in textbooks. What the textbooks didn’t mention was that art forms of all kinds were thriving at the Hull-House. It wasn’t just a place that provided affordable shelter and food, childcare and employment, it was also a place where people’s minds and spirit were nurtured and energized by literature, music, textile art, pottery, painting, poetry. It reaffirmed my belief that the arts are also essential in helping people get to where they want to go. What I also did not know was that Jane Addams was a big fan of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the designs of William Morris, as am I :D The drawing was inspired by a historical photograph of the children at the Hull-House painting in the street in front of a stairway. It was drawn at the airport, waiting for our flight home.

Staircase to somewhere.

day 6

 

 

Our trip ended there. Too short of course :( But what I really valued was the experience of taking time to sit down and draw. And to think, to somehow find words to consolidate my thoughts, which made me feel quite a bit happier actually. Or maybe it was just because I was on holiday. Anyhow, I’m hoping to find more opportunities to do more of this at home.

Mike and I are in the process of compiling our photos of the trip — we took so many! With lots of stories to tell! Can’t wait to post them!

Have a happy rest of the week, everyone!

 

how i love crocheting

how i love crocheting

 The Weather Network says it feels like 38°C. And all week I’ve been working on this very cozy sweater. I had an idea and I just had to make it. I couldn’t help myself. Oh, how I love crocheting.

Wearing it to take a photo is a different story. The exasperation is evident on my face. It was like the 4th take or something. Definitely not the best photo of the sweater or of me, but it would have to do.

I’m going to have to put it away until fall. But I’ve come to love wearing this kind of openwork sweaters. I had to stop myself from wearing this sweater everyday after I made it in early spring. So comfortable. Not too warm for indoors but warm enough for walking to the subway and such when layered.

I also like simple geometrical patterns. With certain crochet lace garment patterns one can risk looking like one is wearing a giant doily. I thought geometrical patterns look a bit more fashionable.

The inspiration for this sweater comes from this marshmallow lace sweater. It’s a knitting pattern. There’s no way I can understand the pattern, but I love how it looks! How I wish I could knit better. I thought figuring out a crochet version of it is probably the next best thing. I found a diamond grid pattern for a cowl in this book by Doris Chan and basically adapted the pattern to make two “T” shapes with some neck shaping. I then sewed together the shoulder, underarm and side seams to make a sweater.

I used some cheap and cheerful purple acrylic yarn that I bought a long time ago, and ironed on low-medium heat under a wet towel to soften the yarn. Kind of like blocking but not really. I think it works well though.

Just wanted to share this last project post before Mike and I head to Chicago for almost a week! :D Summer trip! :D Will see you when we get back! :D

Until then, keep cool and take care, friends!

 

vessel

shell 1

 

I have these photos sitting on my desktop for a while now. For some reasons I kept putting off writing about the project. I guess I’m just not sure whether I can clearly articulate the complexity of it. But I guess it doesn’t have to be too complicated. And it was a fun project to make :)

The exercise was about creating a vessel that can hold unconditional love. It was for a group that I was running with a couple of my colleagues, but because it was a small group that day and everyone seemed to be rather engrossed in their own projects without needing much help, I created a vessel as well.

shell 3

It’s a shell that is made of many old shells. The imprints of the old shells gather sand and grits and sharp bits that pass by and transform them into a pearl that gives a guiding light, a wisdom that shines through the surrounding darkness of the ocean. The wisdom to see oneself and others with clarity and compassion.

It was made of clay. Wasn’t fired or anything, just painted with diluted acrylic. I painted the pearl with a mixture of pearlescent and glow-in-the-dark paint. It glows somewhat in complete darkness but too faint for the camera to capture. I still like the way it turned out though. 

And I painted the outside of the shell with some silver metallic paint.

shell 4

 

And this short poem comes to mind. I came to know it through my mentor:

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error! -
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures
– Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly

 

Have an excellent, energized start to the week, everyone!

 

swing away

Look what I found on my way home the other day :D

swing2Yarn bombed swing! :D

With these lovely crocheted flowers and hearts…

swing1

swing6

swing4

swing3

 

The flowers swaying in the wind…

swing5

 

It made my day :D grateful for the person who took the time to spread some joy!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

 

this week’s awesome finds

Summer crafting! :D

Beautiful giant doily rug from Creative Jewish Mom.

 

Origami bags for trips to the farmer’s market :D Pattern on Whip Up.

 

Scarf to shrug for breezy summer nights. How-to on Scarves dot net.

 

I think I might try to make this summery dress! Tutorial on Merricks Art.

 

Ice cream pillows bring cool thoughts. Pattern by Twinkie Chan on Michaels.

 

From plain t-shirt to fabulous shrug — like magic! By Aunt Peaches.

 

Have always been intrigued by crocodile stitch. Might start by making these lovely flowers from B Hooked.

 

Horchata Milkshake! Looks so delicious! Made with coconut milk! :D another must-try. Recipe on Henry Happened.

Happy summer crafting! :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer picnic

Mike and I went with my family to their church’s summer picnic at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington/Hamilton. Over 300 people came, picnicking and singing together :D 

We also spent lots of time walking around the different gardens and taking photos. And of course, levitating :D

levitate40a

Guest appearance by my sister :D 

levitate40c

A multicolour Chinese hibiscus! Isn’t it amazing? I’ve only ever seen red and yellow ones.

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Poking at the hearth in the garden gnomes’ hideout :D

RBG6

A girl was blowing bubbles by the reflection pool.

RBG5

Shrimp plant! :D

RBG2

In the rock garden.

RBG1

Summer is lush green.

RBG7

 

 

Hope there’s plenty of sunshine as well as refreshing rainfall wherever you are :)

 

lots of love

love knots1

 

I was making parting gifts for a team of people I’ve been working with for the past year. Needed a pattern that was quick and airy for the summer. Came across this pattern for a simple scarf made of love knots (or Solomon knots), it was perfect :D

I used Mary Maxim’s Step it Up. I love the colours and they’re quite affordable. I think I’m going to make myself a scarf as well!

love knots2

 

Have a lovely week! :D

 

in retrospect

It’s just occurred to me a few days ago that I missed genuine mudpie’s 3rd birthday! *gasp* :O

It’s sometimes in March, and now it’s July. I totally missed it. It’s come and gone and I didn’t even notice, like nothing’s happened.

And I didn’t share an anniversary pattern :(

I feel really bad about it. Like I’ve cheated everyone and myself out of a celebration.

Come to think of it, it’s been a hard year.

I turned 30. My grandmother passed away (her funeral was on my birthday). My other grandmother had been seriously ill (she’s okay now). My mom was dealing with some newly discovered health concerns. School work was intense, where supporting other people through their stories of pain brings up my own stories of pain. And then I found myself in a series of conflicts, some small and fizzled out soon after they started, some seriously hurt the feelings or well-being of all parties involved, and in the process a valued friendship was lost. At the end of it all I was in quite a bit of distress, with feelings of guilt, self-doubt, fear, questioning my own character. And so I totally forgot about genuine mudpie’s 3rd birthday. Nor did I spend much time to process my turning 30.

I was at a narrative therapy training about a week ago. In demonstrating a technique of asking questions, the presenter asked the volunteer interviewee to identify a pea-size problem in her mind and then answer his questions in relations to that problem. I was glad not to be the volunteer interviewee because all of my problems are at least closet-sized, and if I start talking about them I might immediately burst into tears and that would be embarrassing.

One of the questions the presenter asked was: what didn’t the problem know about you, that if it had known about you, probably would have left you alone?

For some reasons that question stuck with me long after the training was finished and into the weekend. It was one that I couldn’t quite answer for myself about my closet-sized problems.

On the weekend I brought home my most recent graduation picture to my parents’. My parents have a collection of graduation photos from when my younger sister was in elementary school. It’s grown to be quite a large collection.

And when I looked at these pictures, it was kind of like stepping back and looking at the big picture that spanned the past 12 years and gaining a different perspective, and an answer came to mind for the question: what didn’t the problem know about you, that if it had known about you, probably would have left you alone?

You chose the wrong person to mess with.

I turned 20 in a hospital. I didn’t believe that I would live pass 22. I was convinced that anorexia was how I was going to live my life and how I was going to die.

And by the time I turned 30, I’m married to the best, most caring, most loving husband. All of my family members survived the ordeal that was anorexia and emerged with deeper understanding and love for one another. I have a positive relationship with food and I’m in good health. I eat what I want and go where I want to go. I’ve earned 3 university diplomas and am about to start on the 4th. I’ve started doing what I dream of doing as a career.

I would not have lived and kept going if not for God who for some reasons would not let me die even when I gave up on my own life, and for the family and friends who have continued to love and support and believe in me, who have been there alongside me even when I could not care for them, even when I did not believe in myself. I’m privileged with resources and supportive relationships, and I’ve also worked very hard to use those resources and support to get to where I’m at today.

So, problem — whatever you are: guilt, self-doubts, fear — you chose the wrong person to mess with, and you cannot take me down with you.

And reflecting on me turning 30 and genuine mudpie turning 3, I’d like to say that I’m grateful for every word and gesture of love and kindness that has been extended to me, from every person I have known in person or through this blog, for a brief moment in time or for years. I’m grateful for God’s endless provision and great love. I’m grateful for difficulties and conflicts. All of these things open my eyes to new possibilities, lead me home to the core of what I value, and allow me to extend out from the place of home into the world with deeper understanding, courage and love.

return with us 

This was created with words from a poem called The Initiation Song from the Finders’ Lodge in Ursula LeGuin’s Always Coming Home. I found the image in a National Geographic magazine exactly the way it looks now, with a hole cut out on one page and a picture of the horizon on the page behind it. It was made in reflection on my year-long placement in a community program, but I think it applies to the “turning 30” and “turning 3”  reflections as well. 

Thank you for journeying with me, awesome ones :)