Friday, October 10, 2014

The comment surprise!

It used to be common to find lots of comments on my blog (or on other blogs), especially in the days after a new post was written.  Nowadays, not so much.  I can look at my blog stats and know that I still have plenty of visitors, but many people no longer take the time to leave a comment.    I think there's a few reasons.
First, many people (but not me) do their blog reading on their phones.  Leaving a comment = a pain in the neck.
Second, there's the fact that people seem to like things to happen instantly.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever you use - these things are so much more instant than taking the time to read through a sometimes long blog post, and then write a thoughtful response, and finally to copy the 'captcha' letters/numbers in order to post your comment.  Too much effort?
Sometimes the visitors to a blog have just hopped there by way of a Pinterest pin and do not even read the post.
But sometimes, a blog comment can really pay off.   Perhaps you'll get involved in an interesting discussion.  Perhaps you'll learn something new.  Perhaps you'll get a new idea.  Or, perhaps... just perhaps... you'll win a prize.  That's what happened to me recently!
Ironically, when I left a comment back in September on Art Room Blog, it was because I had something to say.  I knew there was a contest, but honestly, I think I would have left the comment anyhow, because, well, that's just me.  But last week the blogger contacted me and told me I had won a prize.  You can see in the photo above exactly what I won!!!  This blog hosts a contest EVERY MONTH.  That means if you leave a comment on the contest, the odds of winning sooner or later are pretty good.  This month she's giving away a set of awesome-looking pan pastels.  But you have to actually SAY something in your comment.  Each month she asks a question. - This month's question asks "What is your focus when writing lesson plans?"  (Follow the link; she goes into more detail than that in her question.) 

Meanwhile, maybe you are wondering what I'm going to do with my $50 gift card to Jerry's Artarama?  Well, it's already been spent, and I'm beyond excited waiting for the day my package shows up.  Because I decided to make an investment in something that will be useful to me for a LONG time.  
I added a little of my own money to the gift card, and have ordered this 18" paper cutter!! Hallelujah!  

I have always liked big paper - but sometimes I do need to cut it (for example, cutting 18"x24" paper into an 18" squares, or cutting strips for a project, or whatever).  Since I retired two years ago, having access to the paper cutter is the thing I have missed most (besides the kids).  Sometimes, when I need to cut a lot of paper for a workshop I'm teaching, or my private students, I have driven the 30 miles to my old classroom to 'borrow' the cutter for an hour.  But obviously, this is a distraction to the teacher in the classroom, and it makes a simple project into a whole day effort.  Putting the stuff I want to cut into the car, driving the 30 miles, lugging the giant paper through a crowded parking lot, down hallways and up stairs, trying to find a place to work in a busy crowded classroom, and then repeating the whole process in reverse.  UGH.  Sometimes, I have tried cutting the paper using a sewing tool, my rotary cutter (the singularly most dangerous piece of equipment that I own).  But the paper always slips, and I end up wasting more than I cut, plus I am waiting for the day that this evil tool decides to slice off the top of one of my fingers and I have to rush to the ER cradling the missing part of my finger.  It terrifies me.

So the package has shipped, and in a few days, on my doorstep, I will have my VERY OWN 18" paper cutter!  I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Darter at Art Room Blog.  And while I don't want to appear greedy, I'm sure you will see me writing more comments in the future! 

I'm sure that some of you readers have stuck with me to the end of this post hoping that I am offering a prize drawing too, but... not this time.  But stick with me, readers, because I've done it before and it will certainly happen again!  Until then, happy commenting! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sock rug and artsy necklace

 I spent yesterday afternoon at the Adirondack Folk School, where I took a class called 'Weave a Sock Rug'.  Just three hours later, I walked out with this rug that I had made! 
 The instructors made it easy for us - the looms are pre-warped for class use.  We picked the loom we preferred.  The loom I selected was strung with a blue/black combo. 
 Down by my side in the photo above you can see bags with ropes made from the ribbed tops of colorful cotton socks.  The instructor purchases the pre-cut socks from a sock company, and then loops them together into ropes.   The regular weaving instructor is leaving to winter in Florida, so the woman on the right was there apprenticing with her, and will be taking over the weaving classes.  Both were terrific.
Below is what I saw on my loom as I was weaving. 
Another woman, using exactly the same color sock ropes as me, wove on a loom warped with white.  Our results looks so different from each other!
One woman, weaving on a loom strung with green and pale yellow, selected a limited color palette to go with her home decorated with terracotta and a southwestern decor.  This is her rug below.
Here, of course, is my (almost) finished rug.  I say 'almost' because I still have some more knot tying and trimming that I want to do to my fringe.
 Here's what the rug woven with the white warp looks like.
 And here's mine on my studio floor at home.  It really amazes me how the warp changes it.  Her white warp brought out the cool blues and greens, and my blue/black warp brought out the warm reds and jewel tones.  I'm quite happy with it!
 Here's a closer-up look a the nubby irregular weave. 
I like the randomness and irregularity. 
 By the way, I talked to the instructor about easy ways to do this without a big expensive loom, and she suggested hammering nails into an old picture frame and using them to warp the loom.  And of course you can make rag rugs out of just about anything, or cut across old t-shirts to form giant rings that you can link together into ropes as was done with the sock parts. I've always loved weaving with kids, and I think they would enjoy making something bigger using rags rather than yarn.  The possibilies are pretty open-ended, I think!
On the way home, with hubby out of town, I made a pit stop for some shoe shopping before a planned trip to the gym.  When I left the store at closing time, shoe bags in tow, I found a flat tire on my car.  EEK.  I knew no garage would be open, and made a panicked call for advice to hubs who was at his gate at a Washington DC airport, coming home.  He told me to just lock up the car and we'd pick it up the next day.  I thought I'd have to call a taxi, which would have been pricey since I wasn't exactly close to home, but when I ran into the shoe store as they were locking their doors (I wanted to make sure that my car wouldn't be towed), the woman I spoke to looked familiar.  Turns out that she was the mom of a girl who one of my son's friends in high school!  Small world!  She nicely offered to drive me home with my rug and my shoes.  Thank you!!!!

When I finally got home, I decided to finish a necklace that I had strung a month or so ago, and which had been sitting on the coffee table since then (much to my husband's annoyance, I'm sure; he's much neater than I am), waiting for me to put a clasp on it.  The clasp is now on, the necklace is complete, and a coordinating pair of earrings is in the works!!