Cushion cover in the works

Wait, how is it the weekend already? This week went by in a flash, but unfortunately I don't have much to show for it, craft-wise. I'm still working on the photo cushion cover I wrote about a while ago - this week I finally pieced the front together, but I still need to buy a pillow insert and finish the back. I am completely in love with the photo fabric by the way, I keep thinking of new projects to make with it!

Speaking of photos, one of the worst things about living far north is the lack of daylight this time of year. At the moment, the sun rises about 8:30 am and sets at 3 pm here in Stockholm. That's not a lot of daylight as it is; and add to that the cloudy, rainy weather we've been having all week. It really gets on your nerves! It's also near impossible to take good photos this time of year, so my apologies in advance if you see a lot of photos on this blog in the coming weeks that don't quite measure up. I promise I'll do my best!

My Pinterest To Do-List

Are you a Pinterest fan? I totally am! I find it a great way to bookmark craft ideas, patterns and tutorials, as well as images that simply catch my eye in some way - a color combination, an unusual fabric, a spark of inspiration... Sometimes though, Pinterest can become less about finding inspiration for actual craft projects, and more of a black hole which sucks you in - and before you know it, three hours which COULD have been spent crafting are instead spent in front of the computer. So to challenge myself top actually MAKE some of the things from my Pinterest boards, I compiled a list of some favorite projects that I've pinned over the last year or so. All are reasonably simple projects which include instructions, so I really have no excuse to just GET GOING ALREADY.

1. Sashiko embroidery @ the Purl Bee 2. Awesome elastic pen strap @ 3. House satchet @ a Spoonful of Sugar 4. Heart friendship bracelets @ HonestlyWTF 5. Zippered pouch @ A Quilters Table 6. Earbud Circle Pouch @ 7. Brilliant Potholder @ Miss Mary Sewing Classes 8. A faster way to make plus quilts @ For the Love of George 9. Quick hair iron cozy by gatheringtwigs @ Craftster

So much inspiration! I actually already started one of these projects a while back - fabric house ornaments made using the excellent tutorial from Retro Mama. I'm planning to turn them into lavender sachets for our closets.  

See, I've already come this far. About time I finish these! I will keep you updated on my progress. :-)

First Lomo'instant review (and an unusually long post)

It's arrived! Feels like I've been waiting for the Lomography Lomo'Instant camera forever - I backed the Kickstarter project early on in June, choosing the special Kickstarter edition of the camera (for specs, see here). But yesterday it finally arrived! I was totally giddy as I opened the package.

I thought I would post some of my first thoughts here for those of you who are still waiting for your camera to arrive, or are deciding whether to buy one. Now, I have only spent an hour or so with my Lomo'Instant so far, so this will be far from an exhaustive review. Just some initial impressions and  a few test shots - I'm sure there will be more to come in later posts as I get to know my new friend better!

Straight out of the box, a few things to note:
  • The camera is large. At 14 x 10 cm it is significantly larger than it's Instax counterpart, the Instax mini 90 Neo Classic. I like how the rectangular proportions are more reminiscent of a regular camera (whereas the Instax 90 is almost square) but nevertheless, the extra bulk will be a challenge.
  • Despite it's size, the Lomo'instant is very light. Again, compared to the mini 90 this was a surprise. As a novice I figured more features, more weight, right? But not so! Straight out of the box the Lomo'instant is actually lighter, but once you insert batteries and attach a lens it outweighs the Instax by about 100 grams. Which is still not that much, so that's fantastic!
  • As advertised, the camera is completely analog. I love this fact, just holding it feels like you're catching a little piece of fleeting history. This also means though (and I know, I should have realized, but it didn't hit me until I actually held the camera), the camera will require regular alkaline batteries.Took a bit of scrambling until I found some in a drawer!
  • Lots of moving parts! Another thing which I was expecting, but which influenced my over all feel for the camera (see more on this below).
  • The lenses! Having never owned a SLR/D-SLR camera before, I first found the multitude of lenses a bit intimidating. But they are actually quite easy to use and the do lend a very "professional" feel to the camera. More on the different lenses will have to wait for another post though, there's so much to discuss! 
Once I inserted the film and batteries (getting the battery hatch open was a huge challenge for some reason!) I decided to try a quick test. I set the Lomo'Instant to auto mode and auto aperture, and snapped a quick test shot of my bookcase. I then snapped the exact same shot with the auto setting on my Instax 90. You can see the difference here:

Obviously this is just one of a million ways you can shoot with the Lomo'Instant, but I still think it captures something essential about the camera. The two shots have a completely different feel to them! While the Instax shot looks almost like it could have been shot by a low quality digital camera, the Lomo'Instant shot has a much more "lomo" feel. The overall image is darker and there's tons of vignetting. You can also see how the wide-angle lens warps the image slightly (making the bookcase look crooked). This means that just whipping out the Lomo'Instant to snap a quick photo will be challenging - getting the best shot will always include some fiddling around with the settings. Whereas with the Instax I can usually get a decent shot in auto mode, the Lomo'Instant challenges me and forces me to learn - which is something I like!

In a way, this does take some of the "instant" out of "instant photography", but in the end it really depends on what you plan to use the camera for. I had this expectation in the back of my mind when I ordered the Lomo'Instant, and since I already had the mini 90 I was looking for something that could complement, rather than replace, it. It does mean though that the Lomo'instant will probably get less use than the Instax - personally, I see myself using it more for artistic exploration, longer photo sessions and experiments, rather than as a "party trick".

One reason for this is the sheer complexity of the camera. With three different lenses and two packs of tiny color filters (I will need to find some way to store these or I can see them getting lost in the black hole that is my hand bag), the Lomo'Instant will be less likely to get tossed in my bag as I head out for dinner, a party or some sightseeing. Another reason is that, as I mentioned, the camera has lots of moving parts. The shutter itself is a lever, not a button as on most modern cameras. Then there's the focusing zone lever and the way the front (orange, in my case) part of the camera sort of pops out when you change the focusing zone setting; there's the MX switch, and the exposure compensation dial. Maybe this is just me being overly protective of my new friend, but it does make the camera feel more fragile. I will definitely need to look for a good camera bag for my Lomo'Instant - I'm hoping that the awesome folks over at Lomography will get to work on one soon!

Some more test shots: The above are a couple of quick shots I took of Keith this morning (which is why he looks so adorably sleepy), using the portrait lens and a couple of color filters. I wanted to show the different effects you get with the two focusing modes (1m-infinity and 0.4-0.9 m, respectively). The first shot is taken with the longer focusing distance (which is the default), and even though I felt like I was looking up his nose the result doesn't show it at all. The second shot is taken at the same distance (I'm guessing about 30 cm) but using the shorter focusing range. Whoa! Huge difference in size and detail rendering. It's easy to forget this setting if, like me, you're used to digital cameras and auto focusing. But I will have to learn to remember it!

Also, a side note: I LOVE the color filters! The camera comes with four filters (blue, red, purple and yellow) and four additional ones were sent to all Kickstarter backers as a reward for reaching one of the stretch goals. They are all fantastic! And an added bonus: Since the camera has an unlimited multiple exposure setting, you can mix the colors by using one color filter for your first MX shot, and another for the second. How cool is that?? I'm hoping a mix of red and purple might get me some awesome pink MX selfies!

Whew, that was a long post! So what's the conclusion? All in all, if you're looking for a convenient way to take quick snapshots on the go, then I'd say you're better off sticking with the Instax mini 90 or the Instax mini 8. But if you want the chance to get more artistic and imaginative, by all means - the Lomo'Instant is for you!

Geek week: Harry Potter crafts

Alright, this will be the last of my "geek week" posts. But since I am a huge Harry Potter fan, it didn't seem right to do a "geek week" without including some Potter-inspired crafts!

1. Handmade Hogwarts Notebooks 2. Owl paper cut 3. Gorgeous necklace by Guilia Snape 4. Amazing Death Eater mask by Epbot 5. Snitch Christmas Ornament tutorial 6. Free Owl Post printable 7. Awesome Potions book including instructions 8. Deathly hallows paper piecing 9. Amazing handmade wands

The above are a collection of some of my favorite Harry Potter crafts from around the web. I especially love crafts that aim to recreate magical items from the books in detail, like realistic looking wands, school books or magical sweets. Quirky, but still grown up, you know? I don't want my home to look like the Warner Bros' merchandise store threw up all over it... I don't have a lot of Potter memorabilia at home, but I do have one distinctly geeky home decor detail. Here we go:

Yeah, that's a picture of our toilet. A completely normal, muggle toilet. Right?

NO! In fact, it's the entrance to the Ministry of Magic! This is a nice easter egg for visiting Potter fans - I'm sure it looks completely crazy to everyone else. :-) It was a quick craft to do, all I did was do a google image search for "Ministry of Magic", print out the logo and cover the whole image with scotch tape. That way it's firmly attached to the inside of the toilet lid, and you don't have to worry about messing up the image when you're cleaning.

Does your geekiness show in your home? How?

Geek week: More geeky cross stitch

The geeky week continues! On Tuesday, I went to a crafty meet-up with some of the girls from the awesome Facebook community Geek Women Unite (Sweden). So much fun! Three solid hours of crafting and chatting with like-minded nerds is exactly what you need on a dark and dreary november evening. Meeting so many awesome geeky feminists also inspired me to finish some more of the machine embroidered pieces I started last month. This is what I came up with:

I think the f*ck one is one of my favorites so far - that flowery fabric was just begging to be embellished with some profanity! I'm glad it's finally finished. I have quite a stash of finished pieces built up now - I really need to find a way to sell or display them. Any ideas?

Geek week: Instax outing

My apologies for dropping of the map this past week! I've had a busy week craft-wise, but since I've mostly been working on my "secret" project I don't have any pics to share.  Instead I thought I'd share some snaps from out visit to Stockholm ComicCon this weekend. An awesome outing in all! I brought my Instax with me, loaded with the perfect film for the occasion.

I also visited the awesome folks from Nordic Legions (Scandinavian storm troopers - now there's an idea!) and they snapped the above photo of me, wielding a light saber like a true geek. And lastly, this is a photo we snapped on the subway on way home - after an awesome but exhausting day:


Colorful candy patchwork

Look at all that fabric, pre-washed, ironed and all folded up. Yum! It took a while, but I finally managed to iron all that fabric I washed last week. Now it's ready to be used in a colorful patchwork project that I have in the works.The project itself will have to remain secret for the time being since it's going to become a gift - I can't believe that gift giving season is around the corner already! But I couldn't help sharing a quick snapshot. These cheerful patchwork blocks remind me of pick-n-mix candy. Yum indeed!

Smash book saturday: Inspiration

I haven't been doing much smash booking this week, there's been so much else going on. But I have been thinking a lot about ideas for future pages, and browsing Flickr and Pinterest for inspiration. I thought I would share some pages by talented smash bookers which caught my attention!

Smash book inspiration:

I'd like to get a bit more creative in my smash book, maybe even add some paint and collage. These photos have inspired me to try that in my next book! I'm also starting a list of topics that I want to journal/smash about in the future, for those days when I can't think what to write. Here it is so far, in case you need ideas:
To Smash:
My craft space
In the news today
Hexagon themed page
Adjectives starting with the letters of my name
Dinner/meal plans
Dreams (keep a notepad by the bed!)
Crafts I want to make
My neighbourhood
Books to read
My current obsessions
Favorite Quotes
Seasons (take more photos)
Healthy eating
Current to do list

The less exciting part of being a crafter

Most of the time craft blogs (including this one) are full of pictures of finished projects, yummy stacks of fabric and carefully styled supplies. And while I wish that was all there was to crafting, unfortunately it's not! Today I've been busy with a boring but necessary crafting task - pre-washing a ton of fabric.

I've got a patchwork project in the works, and I hate being unsure when I pull out a fabric from my stash whether I've pre-washed it or not. Especially for patchwork that will be used and washed a lot, pre-washing is important. These days I try to pre-wash new fabrics as I buy them, but I still have a ton of un-washed fabrics in my stash. My goal is to wash and iron my whole stash in the coming months.

Two IKEA blue bags full of fabric, whew! I'll be spending the next two weeks finding little bits of thread all over the laundry room, the couch, my clothes, and in the most unlikely places... And now it's time for an even more boring task: All that ironing! I'll spare you the pictures of me at the ironing board, binge-watching Stargate episodes. The things we do... :-)

Patchwork memories

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with projects right now - I have way too many WIPs in the works but I keep thinking of new ideas which I just HAVE to put into action right away... It's exhausting! I might have to put a moratorium on any more new projects for now, so I have time to catch up. Curse my short crafting attention span!

This patchwork project was an example of that short attention span. I have several big hand sewing projects going right now, but suddenly I felt an urge to start a machine sewing one. I have had the idea for a cushion cover using photo fabric in my head ever since I made a memory quilt using the stuff waaaay back in 2008 (see it here). And now was the time!

The photos are all from my Instagram feed over the last 1,5 years. The photo fabric sheets are Blumenthal Craft PhotoFabric from Swedish craft store Panduro, but I've used other brands before and they are all pretty similar - I know Michael's and JoAnne's carry them for example. Just feed the sheets through your (inkjet) printer, rinse and iron. For memory quilts and patchwork, the important thing is to make sure you buy photo fabric and not iron-on transfer paper. The iron-ons leave a sort of plastic coating on the fabric, which makes for difficult quilting and just doesn't look as nice. I think these prints came out really well, especially considering that they are Instagram shots (which have a pretty low resolution to start with). What do you think?

I had a blast choosing the color scheme to go with the photos, too. I went with blue to fit with the rest of the cushions on our couch. Another chance to use the awesome text fabric I bought a few weeks ago! Now I just need to actually sew this project together - no starting new projects until it's done! We'll see how that goes...