My Crafting Adventures: Embroidery

Warning: I’m basically telling this story to show off my new obsessive  hobby. Sorry for the blatant self indulgence.

 

My sister, J, asked me to make her a beaded bib necklace. She wants something large and intricate and reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha. He is one of our favorite artists. And since you all know how much I love my sister, I was determined to learn how to make it for her.

She wants this chest piece, specifically.

But I realized I needed to learn to embroider to learn to embroider with beads. Embroidery was already on my list of crafts to learn anyway. I figured there was no better time.

 

I decided I wanted to embroider an anatomical human heart. I doubt that is surprising to anyone that reads this blog. I also didn’t put any thought into the level of difficulty involved in this project. As usual.

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My first embroidery!

You guys have already seen my cross stitch creations. Embroidery may look similar, but the techniques could not be more different. Embroidery was hard. And serious. And gorgeous.

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This is framed and hung over my toilet.

I was only learning embroidery at this point as a means to an end.  I had no intention of falling in love with it. And yet, I am completely obsessed. It is so satisfying to finish a piece. I love everything about it. It is soothing and rhythmic. And just mindless enough to do when I am emotionally exhausted.

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I made this for Debbie at More Than Sweet Potatoes. It’s a whale skeleton. Freaky.

Embroidery is like drawing with fabric and string. You can make anything. In fact, if you guys go to my Pinterest (link on the right) my crafts page is mainly full of incredible embroideries done by people far more skilled and clever than myself.

 

I have gotten around to making myself a beaded bib necklace, but that is a story for another post. I haven’t made hers yet. But I will, and once I do, I will share it with you all.

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This is a Nordic protection symbol. I have always loved it.

Almost every other craft I have ever learned had a learning curve. The first few times I tried it were awkward, uncomfortable, and the results were pretty disastrous. I’m not sure why embroidery wasn’t that way.

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Fetus in feto for my sister. What can I say? I like bones and diseases, she like furs and medical disorders.

I fell in love with the first thing I ever made. And have been mostly pleased with all my pieces since.

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Owl for my brother.

I can foresee me turning into a crazy embroidery lady with hoops on every wall, just littering my apartment with string and fabric pictures.

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Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Neighborhood Spacecraft

The house I was born in was a tiny box of a house in a shitty neighborhood. There was an empty lot next door where prostitutes would hang out at night. During the day we would go play in the empty lot. My father had to clean up the used needles and broken glass to ensure it was safe for us.

 

Like this, but more sandspurs.

 

There were these concrete steps that my brother fell down a lot. He has a little scar on his chin where he split it open once. Or twice. It’s hard to know.

 

I remember very little about this house or this neighborhood. We moved away before my little sister was born, so I was probably two when we moved.

 

But I do remember our neighbors. They had this thing in their yard. It was a giant metal spaceship. It was a life sized replica of a spacecraft.

 

I swear it looked exactly like this!

 

We would go back to visit the old neighborhood and I was always excited to see it. I would wonder, for hours, where and why they had bought it. Or had they made it themselves?

 

Were they UFOlogists? Was it secretly a working spacecraft that they intended to try to fly? Was it secretly a crashed alien spacecraft? Did they have aliens hidden away in their basement?

 

The possibilities were really endless and endlessly fascinating. I would sit and think about it for hours. Literally, hours. I was fucking obsessed with the riddle of this bizarre spacecraft hidden in the middle some drug filled city neighborhood.

 

In retrospect, this was probably the beginning of my interest in the occult. Let me explain, that I don’t really necessarily believe in the occult. But I am unusually fascinated by it.

 

It’s just interesting.

 

I have thought about this UFO off and on for many years. I first saw it when I was two. But never forgot about it. I still think about it once in a while. Still wondering what the purpose was. I think this might say something about me, because…

 

I finally asked my father about it a few years ago. It took me a few minutes to explain what I was referring to. But then he finally realized that I was talking about our neighbors that had an old airstream trailer in their yard.

 

There is no way this is what I was looking at.

It’s funny how memories work sometimes. It’s funny the way my mind remembers what was probably a broken down, rusting, trailer as this incredible spacecraft. And it’s funny the way my mind refuses to believe it was anything but that.

My Crafting Adventures: Sewing

My mother is an incredible seamstress. When I was a child, we were so poor, she would make our clothes. At the time, it was the most horrifically embarrassing thing that could have ever happened to me. In retrospect, she was so talented.

 

She had this cast iron, mint green, industrial sewing machine from the 70s. It weighed around 40 pounds. It was loud and terrifying. When she would turn it on, the machine would somehow interfere with our rabbit ear television reception. Even though I am talking about it in the past tense, she still has it and uses it.

 

It’s as loud as a fucking jet, too!

 

I hesitate to think what was going on with that machine. I am actually pretty convinced that the machine was involved in some kind of nuclear waste disposal. That cast iron body was protecting us all from radiation sickness. Or mutations that would give us amazing superpowers. Hmm….

 

Anyway, in sixth grade I took a home economics class. It was a required elective. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in some bullshit ‘womens’ class. But I did want to learn to sew. And my mother’s machine was too intimidating. The ones at school were newer white plastic and comparatively whisper quiet.

 

 

 

And it only weighed 10 lbs. What a wuss!

 

Unfortunately, they were still powerful enough to pierce my thumb on my right hand.

 

I think I was never meant to have the tip of that thumb. You may remember that I cut off my thumb in a car door. But that same year, before I cut it off, I once stapled it with one of my dad’s industrial staple guns. I was playing with it, fascinated with how it opened and closed. And the extra staple storage, and bam! I stapled my finger.

 

Believe me when I say, this hurts.

 

Once I cut off the tip of my thumb, I had a lot of scar tissue built up. I don’t really have much feeling in that fingertip anymore, so sewing it in class didn’t hurt. But it was disturbing. Even more so for the other girls in the class that didn’t know I had no feeling in my thumb. Or the teacher that was overwhelmed by the amount of blood.

 

I was able to get out of finishing that stupid stuffed rabbit, though.

 

I never wanted to have anything to do with sewing and sewing machines for a long time after that. I was scared. If I had so little feeling in my finger that I could accidentally sew it, what else could I mistakenly do? I needed my other fingers. And my hand. I stayed away from fast moving needles for a while.

 

 

That little eye hole is what really does the damage.

But then, I went to this quilt show. There was a raffle for various prizes. And that’s when I saw it. The most beautiful sewing machine ever. It was an old Singer hand crank from the early 1900s. I knew I had to own that machine.

 

I think I spent about $20 on raffle tickets for that machine. But I didn’t win.

 

At the end of the show, I was exhausted (this was during my heart surgery phase) and hanging around the raffle table, trying to catch a glimpse of the bitch that got MY machine. But instead this sweet old guy came over. He had donated the machine and wanted to talk to the raffle winner too.

 

Instead he and I got to talking. He had dozens of machines. He took me back to his table that I had somehow walked past several times. And I fell in love for the second time that day. With another machine.

 

I wound up buying it for myself for Christmas that year. It is a hand crank Singer from 1919 and was in Europe for WWI. It is the most beautiful sewing machine in the world. It is silent and every piece and part to this thing is gorgeous and sleek and sexy. It is all polished wood and gold gilt and brass bobbins.

 

So beautiful!

 

I am still not much of a seamstress. I can’t read a pattern if my life depended on it. But I can do tailoring. Sewing buttons. Normal things. I can also sew my own invented creations, but I will admit, I have not explored much of that. Someday, I intend to spend a bit more time making freaky creatures out of plush fabrics.

My Crafting Adventures: Knitting

If you read this post then you know that I almost started a crafting blog instead of doing this blog. I have an insane amount of crafty hobbies and thought it would be fun to write about them. But things didn’t go that way.

 

I was thinking about it today and realized, there is no reason why I can’t talk about my crafting on here too. I had intended my crafting blog to be funny, inappropriate, and full of cursing. So it actually isn’t too different from what I am already writing.

 

So here is what I hope is only the first installment of my crafting adventures:

 

When I was 10 my older sister, W, tried to teach me to knit. She had very little patience and I had very little skill. It was a terrible, terrible disaster. She had given me this beautiful skein of ice blue fine mohair to practice with.

Almost exactly this.

The good thing about really fine mohair is that you can fuck it up pretty badly and still not be able to notice. After hours of exhaustive practice I managed to knit up a square about 5in by 5in. I gave this to her for her birthday as a thank you for attempting to teach me. (Reason number 857 to not have kids: pretending to like their bullshit homemade gifts).

Yeah, this is what my life was missing.

I promptly completely forgot about knitting and never attempted it again.

 

Until I was 23. My brother and I had been hanging out, watching a bit of an old Dr. Who episode. We were both intrigued by his crazy scarf. My brother commented that he might like to own a scarf like that.

This is all your fault, Tom!

I went online and saw how expensive they were. I idiotically decided that I could learn to knit and make him one for much cheaper. So I went out and bought the cheapest yarn and needles that I could find to learn on.

 

That was my first mistake. The yarn was synthetic which I am slightly allergic to and very rough. I watched a few YouTube videos, checked a ridiculous quantity of books out of the library and dove in.

 

I could cast on like a pro and I remembered it being the one thing I had been good at when I was 10. I attempted to knit my first row. But I couldn’t.

 

I literally could not get my hands to get into the positions I was seeing in all these damn books and videos. The movements were so awkward and alien to me. I have never been known for my co-ordination, quite the opposite in fact, but this experience was beginning to make me suspect I was not even using the hands I had been born with.

 

Maybe I had been in some horrible accident that I subsequently blocked out. As a result of sad accident I had gotten a double hand transplant. And the doctors had stitched the hands on incorrectly and now there were some crossed tendons in there causing these major disruptions to my desired goals. It was infuriating.

 

I tried for weeks to knit the first row. I tried until I got blisters, then tender sores, then callouses. I tried until the yarn began to disintegrate from sheer monotonous usage. And every time it was so fucking awkward!

Sorry, I couldn’t find any pics of people that looked like they didn’t know what the fuck they were doing.

I imagine this is how babies must feel right before they learn to talk. They know what the noises are that they need to make, they just can’t make them in the right order to be intelligible to anyone.

 

One day I sat down and picked up the needles and I felt sort of comfortable with them in my hands. I cautiously tried to knit. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much after weeks of crushing disappointment. To be honest, it wasn’t even about the scarf anymore. I was going to knit dammit! I didn’t care if it killed me. (What a way to die, in some yarn induced tragedy).

 

I knitted a row. And then another. And then another. I was a knitting fool!

 

I knitted back and forth, row after row, until I created what was undoubtedly the most sorry looking scarf ever created. But it was done. And then I had to learn to bind off.

 

I had been dreading this part so much. Knitting takes hours and hours of work. Dropping a single stitch can ruin the whole piece. But I knew I had to face my fears. I couldn’t call someone to help me every time I wanted to bind off a project. I had to face this on my own.

 

I actually did an okay job. I had finished my first knitting project. Next I tried out a new stitch and made myself a scarf. It looked exactly how I had intended it to. I was ready to knit my Tom Baker scarf for my brother, T.

 

I don’t want any of you to think I am some fabulous knitter at this point in my life. I enjoy knitting. It is very relaxing for me. Like meditating. I can knit for hours without scrutinizing every stitch.

 

But I also have never progressed beyond scarves, hats, cowls, purses, and bathmats. They are lovely gorgeous items. But you probably won’t see me giving away any socks or sweaters to my loved ones. Because if I invest that much time in something that complicated it will be for myself!

Plus, every knitter knows about the knitter curse. Never knit something for a friend or significant other. It will be the death knell of the relationship. (Hey, I don’t make the rules).

Hollow Tooth Theory

I had a check up at the dentist’s on Monday. I know you would think I had learned my lesson after the last time. But I didn’t. It’s like the dental care never ends!

 

They started cleaning my mouth and giving me shit for my poor flossing habits. It’s not that I don’t floss, it’s that I do it too rough and have sensitive gums.

 

So I changed the subject by complaining about my jaw hurting pretty regularly. And, since I have really terrible nightmares on a frequent basis I suggested that I was clenching in my sleep. Smart move on my part. Because now they are really pushing for me to get a mouthguard (which I’m sure will only make me even more sexy).

Hot!

Then hottie dentist came in and started being all overly friendly and touching me in places that I found inappropriate. Which in this context means touching me anywhere other than inside my mouth. Which is weird when you think about it.

 

There is no way I would let anyone else stick their hand inside my mouth and I pay this guy to do it. What if that was a turn on for me? Wouldn’t that make him a prostitute? Paid for by my insurance.

 

Anyway, they put this laser in my mouth that measures my tooth density. It’s used to check for cavities. They put it on one of my back wisdom teeth and even I knew the reaction of that machine was not good. It started having a seizure. My teeth are so shitty I gave a machine epilepsy.

Also, that wand looks like a skinny penguin.

Hottie dentist then tells me that he wants to open up that tooth and see what’s going on inside it. Immediately.

 

And I can’t help myself. “Do you think it’s hollow?”

 

He laughs a little. “It’s probably not hollow. It would have already broken.”

 

“But what if it was hollow? What if you crack into it and it’s like the hollow earth theory from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne? What if you open it up and find a whole ecosystem in there with it’s own sun and little creatures living inside my tooth?”

Inside the Earth. Also, my tooth.

Hottie dentist is cracking up now. “That won’t happen.”

 

The dental assistant (who is also gorgeous, think Amy Adams in a few years) says “I’m beginning to see why you have nightmares. That would just about do it for me.”

 

And now I can’t get the thought out of my head. I am calling it Hollow Tooth Theory.

 

So they get me all numbed up with the coolest looking needles ever. And I reminded the dentist it took two shots last time. But he already remembered that I was a troublemaker.

They seriously could not be cooler.

He gives me two shots and we start going for it. But two was not enough. So he gets back in there and gives me four more smaller shots (seriously).

Turns out I just had a normal sized cavity in there. But I am going back on Friday to drill into the other wisdom tooth. I am looking forward to the expedition. Stay tuned for Hollow Tooth Theory part 2.

 

Also, they recommended that I start rinsing with Listerine. But I am such a wuss when it comes to things like that. I think I have a chemical burn on my tongue now. Seriously. I cant even chew Big Red (and I love cinnamon gum) because it gives me blisters.

Emergency Room

So, after I was told to go directly to the hospital, I did what any reasonable person would do and called my mother; sobbing like a child. I was trying to tell her what was going on but was completely incoherent.

 

My boyfriend (at the time) drove me to the emergency room. He parked while I walked inside clutching my EKG printout. I explained to the nurse that I seemed to be having heart problems and showed her the paper.

 

I had no idea at the time what a healthy EKG looked like. But apparently it wasn’t on that paper. She immediately put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me back to a room. No waiting. No paperwork. No conversation.

 

I spent the next two hours with a heart monitor hooked to my chest. It beeped wildly every time my heart rate went over 180. Which was nearly constantly. I amused myself by pretending it was frantically trying to communicate with me but could only use incomprehensible beeps, like R2D2. Though it’s message likely would have been that I was dying.

What are you trying to tell me?!

What are you trying to tell me?!

While the nurses and IV techs tried to start an IV line. They stuck my right inner elbow, my left inner elbow, my right hand, my left hand. They had tried 15 times to hit a vein. Apparently I have thick skin and shitty veins (who knew?). With no luck.

Finally, an ex army nurse came in with a sonogram machine. She had an air of getting shit done about her. They rubbed some goo on my shoulder and pulled out a needle for a central venous catheter. The nurse wouldn’t let me see it despite my insistence that I could handle it.

 

But when that sucker sank into me, I could tell it was enormous. It’s circumference felt like a milkshake straw. Unfortunately, even with the lights out, she couldn’t find my vein. So she tried the other shoulder. And missed that vein. It hurt, a lot.

 

She looked at me with a serious expression. “We really need to get an IV in you to administer blood thinners. You could have a stroke without them. I’m going to try your neck, but if we can’t get it, it’s going to go in your groin.”

 

“That sounds unpleasant.”

 

“It is. And you won’t be able to walk around. And they get infected, like, all the time.”

 

I freaked out a little bit. She plunged the needle deep into the vein in my neck. Blood splashed out all over the hospital gown I was wearing. 17 times was the charm. I was IVed successfully.

 

And this thing was huge. It felt like she had broken through my jugular and had somehow lodged it into my stomach. It had three ports on it. When they removed it before I was released I was horrified to see how long it was. The tube was almost a foot long. It was practically inside my heart. I wish I still had that picture.

Beastly.

Beastly.

 

I was immediately pumped full of drugs. And good thing too. That first night was one of the longest and worst nights of my life.

 

I was having really bad heart palpitations. So bad that I couldn’t walk. I had to use my IV cart as a walker to get in and out of the bathroom. I was extremely nauseous and spent most of my night on the bathroom floor.

 

I had a massive stroke my first night in the hospital on the bathroom floor. The nurse came in and saw me lying there and freaked out, thinking I had fallen off the toilet. It would have been funny if I weren’t so nauseous. I was rushed to the ICU for the next five days. In the ICU I wasn’t allowed to get up to pee and had to go in a bed pan. That’s was the beginning of the end of my dignity.

Looks like a diaphragm to me.

Looks like a diaphragm to me.

The nurses also had to give me an injection of a blood thinner, Lovenox, in my stomach every morning and evening. Apparently, the thinner you are, the more it hurts. I was very thin back then. It was agony. It was the worst part about the whole experience. Not the loss of dignity and privacy, not going without a shower for a month, not the 17 times with a needle. Those shots were pure torture.

 

This all means that if I had listened to my doctor’s original diagnosis, that I had panic attacks, I would be dead right now. I would have died at home of a stroke that very night. I am alive because I acted like a total bitch. Let that be a lesson to you.

 

I have a tiny scar on my neck from the A-line. I wound up being in the hospital for 25 days and didn’t leave till I was transferred to another hospital and had my first heart surgery.

Also, I totally stole the blood stained hospital gown. They wouldn’t have wanted to keep it anyway. I never could get all my blood out.

The Dentist part 2

I just got back from the dentist. They had to numb my entire mouth to fill three cavities. Have you ever really looked at the numbing needles they use in dentists offices? They are bad ass looking. It looks like what they used to use  in the Old West to get someone high on morphine or whiskey before amputating their gangrenous foot.

syringe

Also, when I first walked in, they had all the tools laid out on a tray. I couldn’t help but notice the pair of nipple clamps with a metal chain connecting them. “Um, what are those for?” I asked the dental assistant.

She told me they were for the procedure and I got a little bit nervous. It turns out they were just for holding my bib around my neck. My mistake. But really, can you blame me? Look at them!

dental bib clamps

Anyway, by the procedure took about an hour and afterwards, my VERY sexy dentist tried to talk to me but I didn’t even want him to look at me.  It’s very hard to consciously attempt to hold your mouth in a natural way, especially when you aren’t sure what it is up to.

It’s like when you start thinking really hard about the way you breathe and suddenly your autonomous system gets all self conscious and you have to concentrate on breathing in and out for a while and it feels so freaky and totally forced. And you wonder how the fuck you are even alive if you can’t even breathe without thinking about it consciously.

I went into the bathroom at the dentists office to try to find some semblance of a normal look but every face I made either made me look deranged or mentally handicapped. I finally just said fuck it, mouth. I don’t like you and you don’t like me; do whatever you damn well please.

I came home and thought it might be a smart idea to drink out of a straw instead of my normal wide mouthed cups. Even on a good day I can’t manage to drink from them without spilling all over myself.

It turns out drinking out a straw is much harder than you think it is. I didn’t realize the muscle coordination required to make a successful experience. I couldn’t even figure out the muscles required to suck. Hell, I could barely close my lips around the straw.  But I will never take it for granted again.

The dentist also warned to be careful eating as I might bite through my tongue. Um, no thanks. I think I’ll take a break on that one.

Now I am sitting here, drooling on myself, playing with my tongue and lips. My lips are softer than I ever realized before. And they actually feel disturbingly like those flesh sex dolls. Creepy and fake.

 I’m really wishing I had someone to make out with right now. I’m sure it would be beyond awful for them. But, in the name of science, it would be necessary.

I just went and looked in the mirror to try to make a kissy face. It wasn’t pretty.

Maybe this is how people that are terrible kissers feel all the time. Like they just don’t know how to hold their mouths.