Monday, December 31, 2007

Good Riddance to 2007

My affinity for the number 7 ended this year. While some good things happened, it was not the best of years (I suppose... she said grudgingly... it could have been worse). I have spent the day updating my RSS feeds; adding a whole new crop of blogs to read and culling a whole bunch of ones that don't interest me anymore (I know, I'm a fickle gal). From down the well was way more productive than I was - and I'm jealous of her accomplishments. I also found this neat little instructional video on YouTube. Must see if I can get a bunch of people together to do a dyeing weekend - both cloth and thread!

Happy New Year To All!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Works in Progress and Other Stuff

Our internet died on Saturday - I always assume that the town is down, but this time, it was us. When I put in the service call they said the tech would call us between 7 (AM) and 9 and make an appointment to drop by. Okay, no worries, that would give me enough time to make the house presentable. Well the tech guy called at 9 am (waking me up because I've been bad and stayed up late this holiday). He was parked outside the house. After 5 minutes of madly tossing things into dark corners - a babyfaced lad of about 12 arrived. He was very good and determined that our modem had died (or was about to die). While he worked, we chatted about lack of internet survival techniques (apparently he cleans his apartment..... I wonder if that was a dig?... probably not, but mortification thrived anyhow). Our problem is not cleaning, it is keeping clean. My fault as thread and fabric bits follow me from one end of the house to the other. I digress... what I did while I was netless yesterday is muck about with Shiva Paintstiks (I went nuts on Dick Blick when our dollar was beating the crap out of the US dollar).

This is the one that might actually turn out okay. I'm going to thread paint around the while flowers and then might bead and handembroider as well. You have to let the paintstiks dry for days, so we'll wait and see if this actually gets finished or not. I love this fabric! A tip: Most places in Canada are selling a set of 12 sticks for around $79. Dick Blick sells them for about $1.64 Each. You can also get student grade if you just want to muck about. I bought the professional grade ($1.64!).

Miscellaneous Shiva (aka Markal) Paintstiks Links (useful for gleaning tips and instructions)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Using the power of the internet to vent!!!!

Gather round for a sewing related tale of frustration and woe... I'm going to relay a little saga I've been involved in. As you know, I purchased my Embellisher in November after ordering it over the telephone from Central Sewing in Edmonton. The place had been recommended by a friend in my Quilting Guild. With shipping, it came to just under $500. The salesperson was very pleasant. I hung up the phone quite excited and 3 weeks later, the Embellisher arrived. Alas, the Embellisher arrived in a less than brand new condition. It had clearly been used as a demo machine before it was sold to me. There was lint in the trap, two needles were missing from the felting assembly and an additional needle was bent beyond use. Since they had just had a workshop at Central Sewing by fibre artist Ms. Ema I figure there had been a boo boo. In addition, the screw that holds the finger guard assembly in place was mildly stripped, making it challenging to move it. I had also purchased extra needles at the same time - and none were included in the boxes. The only needles I had were the standard 10 that come with the machine, except there were only 6 and I had to use those 3 to replace the ones broken and bent in the machine. Also, a minor annoyance is that the cover for the light doesn't want to stay closed and there was no 'free project book' included like Babylock says there was. Minor annoyances. I'm passive. I'll live with it all. The machine is usable, it works and I've been enjoying it. But, I typically quietly stew about these things. I'm not the type of person to call back, rant and rave except....the friend who recommended the purchase to me kept browbeating me a bit to complain. She did it with the best intentions. She felt sorry because she had recommended them so highly. So I bowed to peer pressure. I sent an email to the owner and explained what happened, explained that I was giving him feedback and that I didn't expect anything because returning the machine is difficult given that I'm 3000 km away and that I was using it. I said that I would appreciate them looking into the missing needles ($40 worth) though.

The owner (I think) Randy called me to apologize on Christmas Eve. He was very pleasant and said that they would be looking into it after the holidays. He asked me to look on the box for a handwritten number, which I did and provided to him. I told him that the box had been open; those large staples keeping it closed pulled out and then covered with tape. Christmas came and went.

Yesterday, I received an email from the original Salesperson that included a copy of an email from Randy (the owner) asking her to deal with the matter. We have now reached the point in our story where I keep getting seriously pissed off.... be back in a second, I need to go and have a smoke and calm myself down.... again..... Okay, this is part of the email I received from the salesperson:

"Randy e-mailed me about the EMB7 that you had received. To my knowledge that was a new embellisher. I do not ship floor models out to customers unless they have been informed before hand that it is a floor model. I would not do anything underhanded. My customers mean too much to me."

The customers who don't complain anyways. She is refuting my complaint. Anyone get that she is tad defensive? This is my translation and interpretation of the email:

My boss sent me your complaint. How dare you complain. I don't really care about the state of the embellisher you received - I'm doing my job. I mailed you a closed box, what more do you expect? If a floor model got mixed up with a demo model - well that's not my problem. It was probably a mistake - you're just one customer, no one else complained.

It gets better (or worse).... she continues in the email "We would like to compensate you for your trouble and grief by shipping you a pkg. of needles...". and then the email ends with a nicety. Okay, it is at this point that I now switch from 'oh, how lovely, they are dealing with

Anyone else struck by their overwhelming generosity? Are you in awe by those crackerjack customer service skills? Excuse me while I pause again..... I'm starting to well up from the humanity of it!!!!!! As an afterthought in the next email that says the needles are sent - she says that the extra needles I purchased were very small and perhaps I should look through the packaging material again (I did that by the way - every piece of newsprint and shredded paper - a number of times since!).

No, oops, the needles were small so we taped them to the box so you could find them easily in the first place; or to the invoice, or to the packing slip. No, we're sending these separately or we put them in a large envelope so they wouldn't get lost; or even we taped them to the Embellisher itself.... just... your fault, go through the packing paper, you must have overlooked them... you idiot!! Okay, they didn't say 'you idiot' but it was implied! Remember, dear readers this is a fair sized box containing another fair sized box with the Embellisher in it and lots and lots of packing material. I am at the point in this whole schmoggle, where I want to send an email back saying "Stuff the needles up your nose, I'm happier being out the $40 bucks as payment for my indignation". I won't, but I want to. Then I could righteously fume for the next century or so. Oh, what the heck, I think I still will.

The moral of this story. A little letter from Randy apologizing would have worked so much better. A small "oops we're so sorry for the trouble, we won't let it happen again. We don't know what happened. Do please forgive us". You know what, I would have let it go. I may even have been inclined to continue shopping at Central Sewing in Edmonton. Unfortunately, Central Sewing took a minuscule step in fixing this problem, instead of taking one normal step to put things completely right. A normal step might have been a coupon (and the missing needles); or the needles and and additional package of needles; or $50 off the price of the Embellisher because it had been demo'd.

But they didn't do that and I'm mad and they'll have to live with that ire's consequences. I had plans you see to buy a bigger better sewing machine with one of those fancy dancy stitch regulators sometime later this year. It's a major investment. I have no intention of aiming that investment their direction. Will I tell the next quilter in my guild warm and fuzzy stories about Central Sewing - No! Will I recommend them? Nope. Will I link every keyword in this blog so that search engines pick this post up and the next time someone is looking for a sewing machine retailer in Edmonton, Canada, they'll find this rant - Yep! It's the only power I have, so I'll use it. They have tarnished the reputation of themselves and of Babylock Canada (who is no longer on my list to purchase from too...just because I'm spiteful... njah njah). Will it make any difference? Sadly, No! But do I feel better? Okay, a little. I still want to shove the felting needles up their noses though. I have violent tendancies! Therapy might help?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Days 4, 5, 6, 7 and WOW, where did the week go?

I am making a mess! We put fruit out for Christmas, and some of it died (this happens alot where we live); so while I was cleaning up I decided not to waste the $11.95 for a teeny tiny bag of small cherries and threw them into a pot, tossed in some grapes and then simmered them up and dumped in some fabric. As an afterthought, I dumped in some thread too. I'm pretty confident this won't work - but what the heck. I suppose I should have taken the fruit out before I put the fabric and thread in? Some of the thread was bright crochet cotton pink (a really truly horrible candy floss pink) and it has now turned a fairly pleasing shade of bluey pink. We'll have to see what the natural thread looks like. When I was in Birmingham last summer I bought a starter kit of Procion Dyes - but if I was to play with them, I'd have to go get the old pots and that means shovelling out the path from the house to the shed; I doubt it would be a smart idea to use our cooking pots.

The embellisher and I have reached an impass of sorts; keep breaking needles (it or I is yet to be determined, but I suspect it might be me). It's not like I'm wedging 2 feet of felt under the needles. I've done some small stuff that I need to turn into something more substantive - which means pulling out fabric, irons, cutting mats, etc.. and the house is so clean at the moment, I'm loathe to do it. Still, I've been enjoying the process and am catching up on my audible downloads at the same time.

I have also been mucking about with denim strips and enjoying the results. When I slipped and fell last spring and the Ambulance folks had to cut off my jeans (sniff, they were a good pair tooo) I kept them - and am slowly turning them into an exploration of blues. I'll post photos later (gosh I promise that often don't I?).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 3 - Slugs R Us!

Apart from the mucking around with the look of the blog and some massive food prep - I did nothing! Not one thing! for most of the day. And my promise to not get out of pajamas until sometime after 10 am - a new record ... 4 pm! (I'm so proud!) Tonight I am sewing... some - and we are still on the massive clean up and clean out before Christmas - so am not entirely the unproductive slug I make myself out to be. Enjoy this ... while I ooze over to the sofa. Really - a cookie cutter! Brilliant in its simplicity.

Day 2 - Fa la la la la

I'm not sure whether rearranging the livingroom really counts as a creative exercise or not? Hmmm? Well I did muck about with the embellisher a bit more and did a bit of thread running on my .... old woman series (really, I need to come up with a title). I've worked the fur - although it needs to be filled in a bit more. Also did some thread work on a landscape - which needs to be complicated up a bit (way too boring at the moment... as in dull to look at). The fruits of that 15 minutes or so are below:

Kunin on kunin with some roving and free motion thread work.

It's a wee bit distorted - camera or photograph (go with the latter).

May hand embroidery foilage in this one. Turn it into a 'slow cloth' perhaps?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 1 of My 12 Days of Creative Christmas

I will admit - I kept to my promise of not getting out of my pajamas until after 11 (that's am thank you very much). After some obligatory Christmas cleaning and a bit of last minute Christmas shopping (how can a town of 3000 be this busy???), I got down to some serious play time. I bought a Babylock Embellisher at the beginning of the month and haven't had much of a chance to play with it (other then break a few needles). Today I started really seeing what this little sucker could do... I love it! Emmy's blog Cramzy shows way more sophisticated stuff then I'm attempting at the moment. As well, some wonderful stuff can be found in the Flickr Embellisher Group and Cramzy's Flickr Group. I will post some photos of what I'm working on soon. I must now go off and repeat 10 times - "I must not buy more wool roving" - "I must not buy more wool roving" - "I must not ... ooooh, pretty colours!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Planning

In exactly 3 days - I will have 15 lovely uninterruptible free and clear days to.... sleep! Well no, just kidding, to sew (I hope). The past month has been a little nuts with life stress, work stress and a bunch of other stresses thrown into the bag - so I apologize for not posting. My New Year's resolution is to try and be a little bit more consistent. To that end, I've got a number of challenges that I'll have to meet over the next year.

This first challenge is the Take it Further Challenge being organized by Sharon B of InAMinuteAgo. This is an offshoot of the Take a Stitch Challenge that Sharon ran this year - of which I quietly participated. It was a great way to add some stitches to the repetoire. I'm also debating taking one of Sharon's classes at Joggles. I think she is offering sumptuous surfaces this time around. I also want to take one of Barbara Schoenoff's classes. I've been kicking myself for months that I missed the Temple Dancer class, and haven't seen it on offer in the near future, but her new one will be my methodone alternative.

The second challenge is our quilting guild challenge. I love the fabric we received (above); so I need to incorporate that into something (I love orange!). Speaking of loving fabric - this summer, I had bought a metre of cheap bali at Wallmart - that my sister decided she liked so much that she couldn't trust me not to ruin it (just kidding, she's usually very supportive). Since we have a lovely blank wall in our kitchen which I've been threatening to paint orange - we compromised and I attached it to a set of stretcher bars - for instant - voila, art (at least until I need the stretcher bars).

I have a digital photography class weekly assignments to work through (to justify the camera purchase), and I'm finally ready to commit to my 50 classics (or near classics) of literature. There are a few other creative challenges in the works as well, but the details of my commitments still need to be worked out. I want to try some from the Fibre and Stitch group as well as a few from the other Yahoo groups I belong to. On top of that are the various personal challenges I've set for myself and my festival commitments. So 2008 is looking to be a busy, if not creative year. I'm looking forward to it (especially in light of the last half of 2007 sucking big time!). I did manage to clean out the closet (studio) this weekend (always do stuff like that anytime before I have to either travel or participate in something that has odds that I might not be coming back (even if the odds are teeny)); so atleast it is ready and waiting for my glorious 15 days (the best ever Christmas gift to myself I'll receive this year).

I leave you with this - because in a grumpy cranky sort of way - it lifts my spirits every time I watch it! I also recommend watching a few of the others that'll come up afterwards - my second favourite is the As It Happens Choir ... for a canadian perspective.