Dragon Lights Chicago

A couple of us went to check out Dragon Lights in Chicago, a Chinese Lantern festival. Traditionally, this is to celebrate Chinese New Year, but April is well passed that date. Boy took some great photos but it will likely be a decade before I ever see those off his camera. That is to say, you’re stuck with my phone pics! I didn’t take very many either because a) my hands were freezingly numb and b) I mostly toted around a 9 year old on my back once it got dark. Oi!

There were also performers! First up were two jugglers with Chinese yo-yos (if that is their proper name?). I couldn’t see them at the time because of the crowd. But then I got a good view for the contortionist whom was quite impressive. I’ve seen photos and probably you-tubes, but there’s nothing like seeing it right before your own eyes! Then a lady danced a unique peacock interpretive dance that I think had historic precedent, but the announcer/sound system wasn’t that great so I might have misunderstood. And then I was wondering what the finale would be, considering they already brought out a contortionist. But they did it right – the Face Changing show was awesome!

Would I go again? I loved the idea and concept but a couple of things were off-putting. The biggest issue is that there was a single food booth, which meant a very long wait line and also it only had maybe 3 Chinese options (orange chicken and Mongolian beef, both over rice, or pork bao buns) and hotdogs or popcorn. Pork buns, which I ordered, were 7$. Sort of expected for festival prices, I guess, but also not because the rice options were 8 or 9 bucks and actually were a meal. I expected maybe four buns at that price, but instead I got two and they were quite tiny. We also expected more booths to purchase things or to watch cultural illustrations like calligraphy or maybe playing musical instruments. I think there were maybe 4 or 5 booths only and all of it was small festival-type trinkets (that aspect was not unexpected, we just thought there’d be more stuff). The lantern show itself was clearly set up for larger crowds, and although we went during one of the warmest days yet this year (which was perhaps only a few degrees warmer than seeing your breath, ha!), there were very few people. I enjoyed that tremendously, but it did mean a lot of extra walking on hard pavement which at times felt exactly like what it was: a parking lot. I also was not impressed that we weren’t allowed to leave and come back; we arrived at 5:30 not knowing what to expect, and had to wait until 8 for the sun to go down. Being able to sit in a warm car for a while sure would have been nice! I do hope to see this festival grow its roots a bit, though, as I am glad I got to see it, even if it was pricey (and cold!).

WIP-TAST-ic Wednesday 16

First up, you may remember my first foray with candlewick embroidery and the better-than-french-knot colonial knot (here and here). I finally got it pieced to become a wall hanging. Now I will stash it a way a bit until I get the necessary boards to finish the quilt frame my dad made. Yes, I finally WILL be doing hand quilting. Probably just a basic stitch-in-the-ditch but maybe also not! I have time to ponder it. Plus, that big center section needs something.

Second, Boy always gets me something electronic for doing his taxes. This year, since I joined a gym recently (WHAT), he got me an MP3 player so I might be more obliged to go (my membership is about a week old so I’ve only been twice). I’ve been dying to make a cassette project from Lysa Flower and this gift finally put me over the edge! I ended up making several changes to the pattern because of my mistakes. I problem-solved as I went, which churned up some creative juices. This ended up being a prototype rather than the finished product, I am afraid. It was all going so swell, too, until my MP3 player (that arrived only today, after much sewing had already commenced) didn’t quite fit. I knew the measurements were close, but I just thought luck would be on my side. The opening is maybe a quarter inch too tight. A quarter inch! Ugh! You can see it all twisty here from trying to force it to listen to me. It was quite a brat about the whole ordeal. Clearly, it is laughing at me. You can see it, too, right?

But I actually don’t mind having to redo this – my piecing will be much better; I won’t have run out of matching fabric scraps because I am making changes mid-go; I’ve learned where to avoid mistakes; I have better ideas to employ my personal additions; I will probably add an embroidered message; et cetera. And my favorite part – where my imagination met reality and gave birth to awesomeness – the wrist strap, which doubles as a closure method, wait for it, looks like unwound cassette tape! Huzzah!

Third, this is not a wip-TAST-ic Wednesday, I am afraid. I have not started this week’s challenge, which is the rice stitch, other than to investigate images online and in my books. I believe I will get a big chunk of it finished on Friday though. Fingers crossed I do, because this weekend is quite busy. As are the next couple and then I am away for archaeology. I am beginning to fear TAST may suffer some consequences real soon:/

TAST: Arrow Stitch

Pintangle's Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) by Sharon Boggon

You’ve read about my idea for this here, right? Ok! See all completed TAST posts here.

Last week’s TAST challenge was the Arrow Stitch (or Arrowhead Stitch if stitching vertically). Here is my front and back, for posterity’s sake:

TAST: arrow stitch

TAST: arrow stitch

This top portion has several things going on. In the left corner, I was just experimenting with different lengths of the arrowhead stitch (towards the bottom of that light pink, I only stitched one side since the other will be cut away once the pennants are transformed into bunting). Then I played with the same idea, but turned the orange stitches to face each other. The next pink area contains tightly stacked and nested arrowhead stitches. Then I threaded a basic orange arrow stitch with a dark pink thread. Under that, I alternated the height of the orange stitches. I also found I could make geometric shapes fairly easily with the dark pink. Looking at them now, I bet I could add two more well-placed arrow stitches and make a diamond! Then I took light and dark pinks and interwove basic arrow stitches at different heights. The orange along the bottom simply stacked different sized arrow stitches.

TAST: arrow stitch

I wanted to also contrast the top portion with more simple uses of the arrow stitch. So, in dark pink, I simply offset two rows of arrow stitches. In orange, I stacked two rows to give a very similar (though different sized) diamond shaped effect. And the bottom row are still just basic arrow stitches, tightly stacked in different colors.

TAST: arrow stitch

For the motif, I stuck an alligator in a pond, with some flying birds and a bare bush to fill in the environment. 

TAST: arrow stitch

And as always, the title portion. It is clear I needed some practice with my stitch lengths and angles here, but I think I got it down now!

TAST: arrow stitch

With TAST, I am learning that while there may be ways to cheat and make the front look a certain way, if you don’t do the stitch correctly, you waste a lot of thread. And sometimes you waste time or add frustration. Being self-taught, I haven’t always looked up how to do things “right” because if the front looked right, I didn’t care nor understand that there was a “right” way. TAST is awesome and so is Sharon! That being said, I still do things the way that is most comfortable to me, and every stitcher I’ve come across agrees that that’s the best way!