My One Story Writing Class Experience

Blogged under writing by Tammy on Wednesday 8 February 2017 at 11:32 am

Recently, I participated in a week-long online class called “Write with One Story.” It cost $60US for non-members and $50US for members and is run through a platform called Haiku Learning. I was hesitant to take the class because I’m so, so busy now with work (teaching college English), and of course, there is my fun time for making jewelry and knitting and doll crafts, that seems almost non-existent these days. But, I figured for the price I’d give it a shot.

My overall take on the class was that I got a lot out of it, and given different circumstances in my life, I definitely plan to take more online offerings from One Story. However, I thought it might be helpful to anyone thinking of taking one of their courses if I offered my personal and subjective pros and cons, in no particular order:

Pros:

  • I learned a lot and came away with functional writing exercises that I am sure I will find useful if I ever need some writing inspiration or a kick start to my creative writing efforts in the future.
  • I met so many cool and talented writers. All but a few were very kind and generous with their feedback.
  • I now have connected out of class with some of my fellow writing students, and we have formed a loose group to help each other with our writing work outside of class now.
  • Online convenience can’t be beat. While there are writing conferences and even a few groups I could go to that aren’t super far away, I don’t have the time or energy to do that most of the time.
  • The instructors were top-notch, not enough words to praise them.
  • It was challenging, a good way. It made me work at my writing.

Cons:

  • I felt rushed. While supposedly the assignments aren’t suppose to take more than an hour, I am just not a fast writer.
  • If you want feedback from your fellow students, obviously, you must offer feedback as well. This meant not only did I have one day to quickly get my writing assignment done, I had to also read loads of other work by students in my class and provide feedback. I actually started to like that part of the class experience more than I thought I would, but it was a lot to do in one day.
  • Some of the exercises I had issues connecting to, so again, given that I had one day to write, I felt like I needed more time to think.
  • Okay, yes, a few comments did hurt my tender, precious, snowflake feelings, but I know I have to put my big girl panties on when I do something like this.
  • The platform (Haiku Learning) could be less wonky. For example, you can make your settings so you are notified when someone comments on something you wrote or commented on, but then when you click on the email link, you are just sent to a general discussion page and have to sort through posts to find what you are looking for.

 

Doll Questions and Updates

Blogged under dolls art/collecting by Tammy on Sunday 22 January 2017 at 1:52 pm

One of my most popular YouTube doll videos is one where I discuss the difference between fake Blythe dolls and stock (or real) Blythe dolls. Because I had so many questions and comments over there, I recorded a few follow up videos that expand on this topic and try to answer viewers’ questions.

 


Custom Blythe Doll, My First

Blogged under dolls art/collecting by Tammy on Sunday 22 January 2017 at 1:48 pm

For a few years now, I have been on the lookout for the perfect customized Blythe doll to add to my collection. If you’ve watched any of my doll collecting videos on Youtube, then you know I have particular tastes. While I’m fascinated with the techniques used to transform a doll into a one-of-a-kind piece of art, I have to say that the glut of customized dolls on the market and increase in those who want to peruse this art form turned me off for awhile. I just saw so many weird looking dolls! Finally, though, I found her, and I show her off in this video review.

Book Review: Natural Color

Blogged under Fiber Fun,Good Books by Tammy on Monday 16 January 2017 at 1:57 pm

naturalcolor
Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe is written by Sasha Duerr, an artist and professor at the California College of the Arts. It is published by Watson-Guptill Publications in hardcover form and retails in the US for $30 and Canada for $40.

First, I have to begin by saying that this is such a “pretty” book. The layout and photographs are top notch. Plus, while the print text isn’t huge, it is nice to see a book that I can easily read the text without sitting under a massive overhead light. They weren’t stingy with the ink for a change, which is see much too often in books lately.

Now for the meat of the book, which focuses on using plants to die fiber for make-it type projects, really interesting, though I’m not sure how many people would be up for doing all this work. Not that it wouldn’t be fun work, but there is a lot to it. And the book is very thorough in covering the information. It reads a lot like an encyclopedia. There’s information on plants and the seasons they are available. This is followed by details about the type of colors you can dye with and their pros and cons. Then there are recipes for dying items like bedding, bags, and clothing. A short techniques section in the back of the book demonstrates four different dye techniques.

The beginning of the book explains how to set yourself up to make the dye and also collect the materials and process them. A list of tools and equipment is included. None of those listed where super expensive or difficult to find. It was a pretty long list, so you would need a lot to do this and a good space to attempt it, however.

Anyone who has ever thought about dying fiber, from textiles to yarn, would find this book immensely helpful. It is packed full of information. The casual reader might find it overwhelming, but I think it would become a useful reference book for anyone interested in fiber arts as well.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Good Books by Tammy on Monday 16 January 2017 at 1:23 pm


Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters: 200 Stitch Patterns in Words and Symbols includes 200 stitch patters in words and symbols. This is a softback book of 170+ pages published by Quarto, which released it in May 2016. In the US, it retails for $24.99; Canada $29.99; and UK L16.99.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for stitch dictionaries, and this book did not change that at all. I love to be able to cruise through a stitching book like this and pick out stitch patterns to try, especially when I want to make a simple, no-brainer afghan. The way these stitches are organized works well with coming up with blanket patterns. Section One of the book divides the stitches into the following: Simple Sold Patterns; Shell and Fan Stitch Patterns; Openwork and Lace Patterns; Textured Patterns, Colorwork Patterns; and Edgings.

Each stitch pattern is show first with a color swatch. Under that is the pattern shown in a chart with crochet symbols. Then this is followed by the instructions in text. Between the three, I find this very easy to use. When learning a new stitch, I like to go back and forth from a chart to text. I have seen more and more books including both charts and text, so this is not anything necessarily new to crochet books. Still, it’s nice to see and would make a difference for me in whether I used a book or not. Even if you aren’t the type to design your own patterns, this book is useful for using when you’re trying to figure out a pattern and need extra help.

You don’t need to be an expert crocheter to to find Leapman’s book useful. However, anyone who crochets on a regular basis should have a stitch dictionary in his/her craft book library, and this is one I recommend.

Book Review: Crochetterie

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Good Books by Tammy on Monday 16 January 2017 at 1:03 pm

Crochetterie: Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively-minded is written by Molla Mills and published by Quarto. It’s a hardcover book that retails in the US for $29.99; Canada $38.99; and UK L20.00. Thirty projects are included in the book. There are crochet patterns along with lots of extra how-to information and wonderful photography.

Mills is a Finnish designer and has a very unique approach in this book, and in the introduction she explains that one goal of hers was to create projects that would appeal to men. This means not just making projects men might want to use but also want to make, and she points out that in her country it is a common hobby pursued by boys.

The projects are broken up into categories: home, clothes, travels, and equipment. There are basic instructions in the back, in chapter 5, that provide clear photographs for mastering stitches.

One small brain teaser for using these instructions and the patterns is that both American and English versions of stitches are presented, which is good and bad. It’s good, obviously, because no matter which you’ve learned, you can still complete the instructions without having to make any of your own alterations to the patterns. Of course, the bad is that you have to pay attention and remember that differences, such as a US single crochet is a UK double crochet stitch. US terms are included after the English term in parenthesis. For example, a pattern will say something like this: “crochet 10 dc (sc).” If you use English terms, then you ignore the information in parenthesis. If you use American terms, then you need to remember to use the parenthetical information and not the other.

One big plus for this book is that the projects are so different than any I have seen in a book for a long time. And, yes, they tend to be a little more masculine, no doilies for sure! There’s even a how-to in the back of the book for carving your own crochet hook out of wood. As far as crochet projects go, the “Yarn Chain” is a chunky crocheted chain that looks like a thick metal chain, only made with yarn. A similar idea is used in making a “Utility Strap,” which is shown connected to a skateboard. There’s a “Bow Tie” project and various rug projects. The author also has some projects that use other materials like using old t-shirts cut and sewn together (no crochet needed) to make a hip looking scarf.

So, my final thoughts are this is for the adventurous crocheter who wants modern and unique unisex accessories and decor items. Be prepared to learn new skills and work with other materials besides yarn such as leather and canvas. Put your need for immediate gratification on hold, but the finished projects look well worth it.

Have a Merry Dolly Christmas!

Blogged under dolls art/collecting by Tammy on Saturday 24 December 2016 at 12:57 pm

Book Review: Cross-Stitch with Attitude

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Friday 23 December 2016 at 2:20 pm

 
When I used to be heavily involved in cross stitching, one issue was finding interesting patterns that weren’t overly cute all of the time. Not that there is anything wrong with “cute” cross stitch, but it can get old. Plus, if you want to make gifts for people, than having a broader selection is helpful. I Got 99 Problems but a Stitch Aint One: Cross stitch with attitude to liven up your home by Genevieve Brading adds new dimensions to cross stitch projects with her off the wall says incorporated into patterns. The book is hardcover and came out in September of 2016. It retails in the US for $12.99; UK $11L; and Canada $14.99 and includes twenty projects.

All of the projects are pretty simple, so this would be a good beginner’s book or for someone who wants relatively fast projects. If you are uncomfortable with “colorful” language, then this would not be for you; however, if you want some spice added to your cross stitch crafting, then this is a book to consider.

Along with the projects, the front matter of the book has some basic how-to for beginners, about 15 pages worth. While this information is not super in-depth, it looks like enough to get you started. I especially like the photographs that illustrate when to get started by locating the center of the pattern and working out from there.

Yarn and Dollies Video

Blogged under Crafty Videos,crochet and knitting,dolls art/collecting by Tammy on Friday 23 December 2016 at 12:35 pm

Since I have some yarn finished objects (including some crochet and knitting) as well as some Blythe doll crafting and other related updates, I put them together in this video.


Doll Groups on Facebook

Blogged under dolls art/collecting by Tammy on Sunday 11 December 2016 at 11:22 am

Next Page »