Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

There's a lot, and I do mean a lot, of great deals out there.  Where will you shop?  While there are some awesome finds in stores, those lines can be nightmares and the crowds, goodness!  Avoid both with some online fun (yes, I do love the online shopping).

Here are some great places to check out (and no, I'm not a sales rep, just a happy customer):

Craftsy is offering classes for $19.99!  I'm enrolled in several (a great way to spend my RSI recovery time) and they are well produced and a fun way to take a class (because sometimes 1 AM in my pjs is the best way to learn, or at least the only quiet time).  Quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cake making--they've got the range.  Heck, there's even a cheesemaking class on there!  Want to make a skirt--boom!  There's a class.  Learning to sew--boom!  Another class.  Modern quilt making or free motion quilting?  Well, you get the idea.

Fashion Sewing Supply is offering 15% off popular interfacings!  Those of you who've ordered from here know that Pam's interfacings just can't be beat.  There's a whole range of both sew-in and fusible, many of which are offered in both white or ivory and black.  Pick up some fusible pro-tricot deluxe and pro-sheer elegance, two of my favs.  Maybe you signed up for that shirt making class on Craftsy--don't forget the interfacing!  I like the pro-woven light crisp and pro-woven shirt crisp, two great fusibles that any shirtmaker should have on hand.  While you're shopping, get some of the elastic for skirts and pjs (I use the 3/4 inch for pjs all the time.)

Of course there are places like Amazon which runs deals all day, as well as their regular discounts on books.  (I'm such a sucker for books!) 

Patternreview has a sale going on their classes (just signed up for a couple of the online ones to try), membership fee is discounted, and they've got a sale on some of their patterns and cd/e-books!  A great community over there too!

Most of the fabric stores are having sales too.  Here's a few:

Fabric Mart
Fabric Depot (if you're near Portland, the retail location has lots of sales too)
Nature's Fabrics
Fat Quarter Shop (code "jingle" gets you 25% off) (go to their coupon corner for additional savings codes)

So check out your favorite spots (don't forget sellers on Etsy) for some great deals and have fun!

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Hug Monkey

A month and a half ago, my sister asked me to create a monkey toy for a baby shower she was attending (for her boss).  She wanted something infant safe, easy to clean, bright boy-appropriate colors and, of course, adorable.  I decided to add a bit of quirky in as well when I was sketching him up.

Presenting, the hug monkey...

Hug Monkey says "hi".
I know, totally fun and adorable.  It's the fabric, stripes make the monkey. 

Weird how the stripes underneath show up in photos but not when you're right there looking at it.  Hmm...
Because this is going to a new baby, I didn't want any possible choking hazards, so no buttons or attachments or any kind.  I also used a narrow zigzag (almost a satin stitch) around all the face parts which were also fused down.  Probably overkill, but I didn't want it to have any possibility of falling apart with (I hope) the constant handling of a baby and small child.  If this toy becomes the favorite, which would be totally awesome, then it'll get gooed and drooled on, taken everywhere, the occasional bath, pulled and squeezed, and somewhat dirty.  This monkey is prepared.

Talk to the tail.  LOL
Hug Monkey's tail is a lovely coordinating green that's been fused and stitched down.  I thought about making it a free hanging tail, but decided against it as this one will be starting life with a baby and I wasn't sure a long tail would make it through childhood (and the more paranoid side of me thought it could become a choking never know with little boys).  Arms and legs are made from some PUL fabric.  I figured those would be the most handled parts (and infants often stuff things in their mouth when teething) so the choice of PUL was for easier cleaning.  If a fabric can hold up for diapers, then it should work for a toy just fine!  And that beautiful stripey fabric?  I found a fabulous set of infant/toddler sheets (with plenty of fabric for future hug monkeys).

Quirky face and a little heart makes him super lovable!
The fabric face and heart are made from quilting cotton.  The mouth was hand embroidered.  Deliberately different sizes and set at different levels, the appendages help add to the overall whimsy of this goofy fellow.  Hug Monkey is stuffed heavily in the body for years of hugging and has a little bit in the appendages for a nice squishy feel and easy grabbing for little hands.

Overall, I think this hug monkey fits the bill.  At the baby shower, the mom-to-be had to keep taking Hug Monkey away from the toddler sibling, so he'll definitely do as this new baby comes and grows.

Hug Monkey loves you!
Update:  Mom-to-be went into the hospital with labor Wednesday.  Future hug-monkey-lover is on the way!  Congratulations to the entire family!
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RSI or Repetitive Stress Injury

RSI.  Ever heard of it?  Maybe you've heard of carpal tunnel, which is a type of repetitive stress injury.  Well, I don't have carpal tunnel (at least I don't think I do), but I definitely have some RSI going on in my forearms and wrists.  Talk about painful...and highly annoying.

Last June, when cleaning the kitchen at the school where I work part-time, I did some way overboard scrubbing trying to get everything cleaned for summer shutdown.  The lead cook had simply stuffed pans in the storage room and left without cleaning a thing.  In fact, she hadn't really cleaned anything all year long...but that's a different story. 

Well, after four hours of scrubbing my arms were somewhat numb and dead feeling (kind of like how you feel after running a marathon) and I went home tired and exhausted to take a nap.  When I woke up my arms felt like they were on fire with pain from the elbows to the hands.  Lots of pain killers, some proDHA and some heat packs later, the inflammation went down and over about a week the pain went away and I felt better.  I didn't really think about filling out a worker's comp claim as school had closed for the summer and I was busy with everything else.  (Yes, I'm filling one out now and will try and find a competent doctor.)  With all the hassle of legal issues this summer, I didn't really do any sewing or computer work so that let my arms rest which really made a difference.

Unfortunately, after only 2 1/2 months of work (okay September was full time as I was filling in for an open position along with my shift), my arms and wrists are back to hurting--although, thankfully, not anywhere near as bad as back in June.  I've got a brace coming for my right hand (if I like it, I'll snag one for the left) and a book that, hopefully, will teach me some exercises and ways to avoid making things worse.  But, it does mean a major cut back in my extra online activities and sewing.  Which stinks big time.  Scissors...rotary cutter...not my friends right now!  Christmas is going to be hard to get ready for even with having already cut out most of my sewing projects.  (I've even got some already sewn, so that's good!)

I've got some projects already done and photographed still to share and some projects all cut out which I should be able to sew together after a bit of rest, so hopefully you'll still enjoy reading my blog.  But I would love to hear any great tips or advice you have for healing up RSI.  I really don't think the permanent use of pain pills and braces are a solution.  I'm thinking of trying some acupuncture, therapeutic exercises and such to actually heal the problem, not just mask it.  After all, I want to continue sewing and quilting and doing the things I love.  So bring on the suggestions!
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