Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Life Shifting, Times Two

Filed under: Daily Life,Second Life — folkcat at 4:16 pm on Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Things are changing, and I’m not entirely sure where they’re going. Second Life is becoming more and more important to me. It’s taking time away from crafting and writing reviews for Shopping Jen.

And you know what? I’m loving every minute of it!

My apologies right now to those of you who come here for the knitting, beadwork, quilting, and such. This blog is not turning into an All Second Life blog. But this is going to be a Second Life heavy post. I promise, I’m still doing the Real World crafts, too. There just isn’t enough progress since the last time I shared them to bother showing.

Second Life Shifts

Gryphon and I had a major shift in our Second Life reality this weekend. We are now landowners. We had been renting land on a nice island, but then an opportunity came up suddenly to purchase – outright own – a plot of land twice the size of our combined rented parcels, and almost next door to our best friend in-world.

This involved Real World cash to come up with the Second Life currency to make the purchase, and it was a stretch for the budget. But we were able to do it, and bought the property yesterday morning. Now, we have a very nice, large property to call home. Gryphon will be setting up a meditation center – whether in the form of a Buddhist sangha, or a Native American sweat lodge, we’re not sure yet. And I’ll be building a nice house and putting a garden around it.

Becoming a Virtual Artist (Times Three!)

At the same time, I’ve taken the next step in creating an artistic Second Life. Each of my three avatars – yes, I have three now – is representing a distinctly different style of art that I can present.

Genna Lunasea, my second avatar, but the one I consider my main persona, is the photographer, and also does drawings at times.

Probably Perhaps, my oldest avatar, does paintings (painterly effects carefully applied to photographs to create what looks like Impressionist art).

My newest alt (short for alternate avatar), Regan Blackburn, is a graphic artist with something of a psychedelic style. He (yes, he) is presented as the cousin of Probably and Genna, who are identical twins with distinctly different personalities.

These three personae are creating 2-dimensional artworks that I can sell in Second Life. Such art is actually in pretty good demand to decorate people’s homes. It can also extend into sidelines, like putting original designs on t-shirts and other clothing items, or creating “textures” – samples of images, whether photographic, drawn, or computer-generated, that people can apply to the surfaces of objects they create.

On Sunday night, Probably Perhaps, after much studying of the options available, decided to rent a storefront in a place called VLS. VLS stands for Virtual Light Studios. A large portion of the area is taken up with soundstages on which virtual movies, called Machinima, are filmed. There’s also a theater where live performances are held, a talent agency’s office (representing in-world musicians and DJ’s performing, well, in-world), and two streets of nicely-designed stores.

So now, that’s where you’ll find the Probably Art gallery. It’s still in the process of being set up, but Genna painted the walls with a nice plaster effect, and re-tiled the floor. Regan has his psychedelic art in place. Probably and Genna need to get in there and put up their paintings and photographs. And one of the three needs to build an easel they can use for displaying still more art. In fact, they’ll probably sell the easel as well – there is a market for such items.

I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of any of this, but I’ve been so busy purchasing land, making lease agreements, and all those things that I haven’t gotten around to taking any good photos yet. Not that there’s much to show – the land is still bare except for one house plopped down on one end, and the gallery isn’t done yet.

Real World Impact

I’m not going to give up crafting – don’t worry about that. I do need downtime from Second Life, if only to give my rear end a break from the desk chair’s wimpy cushioned seat. And that’s a perfect time for a little knitting and television.

But I have to admit, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction from Second Life. And it costs so little to do, aside from one time expenses such as land purchases. Renting the space for the art gallery is only costing about $1 per week. Creating the artwork itself – there’s a one time cost of about half a penny to upload the image, but you can do whatever you want with it, make any object using it, for free.

As indulgences go, this is fairly cheap. And it makes me so happy, I think I’m justified in spending more time at it. And who knows? If I have any success at this gallery, and sell enough art, it could actually pay for itself.

What About The Blogs?

That’s a good question. Crafting Jen, there’s no problem with me writing posts five days a week as I’ve always done. This is a more conversational blog, talking about what’s going on in my life.

I’ll continue with the Freebie Fridays, too. Spending more time in Second Life doesn’t reduce the amount of crafty stuff I’ve got around the house that I can give away, and I have a lot of fun with Freebie Fridays.

The blog that I’ll have the hardest time with is Shopping Jen. It takes a fair bit of time, evaluating products, then writing a carefully crafted review of them. I have already pulled back to posting only once or twice a week. Maybe I need to also start limiting my reviews – maybe not do the grocery and snack items, for instance, but only the books and DVDs I receive as review copies. It probably would be good to have a more defined focus, anyhow. And certainly, the book reviews have generated the best response from you, my readers.

I may, however, start posting them only at Shopping Jen. I’ll give you a head’s up here when there’s a new one, but for the full content, I’ll ask you to visit Shopping Jen. That will also mean that, on book review days, you’ll get a regular Crafting Jen post, instead of me copping out and just putting up the review on both blogs. Fair enough?


That’s it, I think, in a very large nutshell. I’m not sure how coherently this post reads. And I know not all of you are interested in the virtual world aspect of things.

I’m going to spend more Second Life time. But the biggest impact will be, not on Crafting Jen, but on Shopping Jen. I’ll post less often to Shopping Jen, but it will hopefully be more meaningful reviews of craft books and such.

As for Crafting Jen, I’m not going to slow down posting here. Freebie Fridays already give me almost pre-written posts for Fridays and Mondays, and I think I can come up with enough crafting progress and Rattie Tales to cover at least three days a week.

It’s a change, I know, and change can be scary. But it’s been a while since I was as enthusiastic about anything as I am about Second Life, and I have to give it the space it demands. I promise, though, I won’t forget the crafting. And, after all, this blog is as much about crafting the person I am – both on- and off-line – as it is about knitting and other handcrafts.

And The Heishe Beads Go To…

Filed under: Announcements,Contests — folkcat at 3:45 pm on Monday, November 5, 2007

…blogless Heather! Congratulations, Heather, the beads are yours. I’ve sent you an e-mail as well, asking for your mailing address.

Wow, you guys really go nuts over the natural material beads, don’t you? This week set records for Freebie Fridays – we had a total of 18 entries from 15 different contestants. (Three people earned a second entry by posting a link at their blog.) Our previous high count was 13 entries for a beaded bracelet on the Oct. 19th Freebie Friday.

Many, many thanks to everyone who participates in these giveaways. They’re a lot of fun for me, because I get to make an even more personal connection when I send packages out to the winners. And clearly, a lot of things that I have gathering dust around the house are going to good homes where they’ll be well loved.

I’ve got a busy day ahead of me – look for a post tomorrow about my knitting and crafting progress. And once again, Congratulations, Heather!

Entries Closed for Nov. 2nd Freebie Friday

Filed under: Announcements,Contests — folkcat at 1:00 pm on Monday, November 5, 2007

It’s Noon, Eastern time on November 5th – entries are now closed for this week’s Freebie Friday drawing for the buffalo horn heishe and Job’s Tears beads. I’ll announce the winner soon!

Freebie Friday, Nov. 2nd – Natural Beads

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Contests — folkcat at 5:15 pm on Friday, November 2, 2007

It’s Freebie Friday time again! What have we got this week?

Buffalo Horn Heishe BeadsIn the category of “Things I Got At A Bargain, And Have Way More Than I Need Of” – this week’s prize is 8 strands of buffalo horn heishe beads. I purchased a large lot of these at a yard sale this past summer, for very, very little money. I’ve already given away or sold a large portion of them, and still have more than I’m likely to use in my lifetime.

So here they are, offered up for Freebie Friday – 8 strands, each one about 24 inches long. That’s sixteen feet of beads!

This week’s drawing is open to any and all entries, including international!

These are tiny beads that would look good as spacers between glass beads, or in a multi-strand necklace or bracelet with accent beads scattered. Of course, your own imagination is the only limit to how these could be used!

pb020793_edited.jpgTo give you an idea of the size we’re talking about, here’s a close-up with a penny for scale. Click through for a larger image so you can see it better.

I don’t have a picture, but I’ll also include a strand of Job’s Tears, a natural bead made from a seed pod. These pods grow on a grass-like plant, and actually have a naturally occurring hole in them, perfect for stringing. They would look wonderful strung with the buffalo heishe.

Would you like these beautiful, natural material beads for your very own? It’s this easy:

  • All readers are eligible for entry to this drawing, including international mailing addresses.
  • Enter by commenting to the contest post before Noon, Eastern Time, on Monday, November 5th. Only one entry per person for commenting.
  • Earn a second entry by posting about the contest on your own blog, and linking to this post. E-mail me at fiber AT folkcatart DOT com to tell me you’ve done so. Don’t forget to post soon enough that your own readers have a chance to join in the fun!
  • Have you won a prize at Crafting Jen before? No worries, you can enter again!
  • The winner will be chosen by a random drawing from all entries received before the deadline.
  • I’ll announce the winner on the blog on Monday, and will also e-mail them for their mailing address.

That’s all there is to it. So hurry, enter now, and then check back on Monday to see who won. In the meantime, good luck to you all, and have a great weekend!

Piecing It Together; and, Knitting New Scarves – a Mini Book Review

Filed under: Books,Knitting,Reviews — folkcat at 4:31 pm on Friday, November 2, 2007

A quick note: Freebie Friday will happen – just not quite yet. I’m having one of those slow start days. I promise, I’ll get it up here later.

Meanwhile, I did, in fact, get back to the piecework last night. See?

QIP - Grandmother's Flower Garden Table Mat #1

That partial column of hexes on the right is what I accomplished last night at Panera. Not bad! It felt good to get a little of my other projects back into the mix.

pb020785_edited.jpgOn the other hand, my most recent order arrived from Amazon yesterday. I first saw this book over at Grumperina’s blog; she, in turn, had learned about it at the purl bee. It’s Knitting New Scarves: 27 Distinctly Modern Designs, and I’m finding it endlessly fascinating.

I haven’t studied the details of this book in as much depth as I normally do for a review, so let’s call this a mini-review. I will tell you this – even with the quick look I’ve had, I highly recommend this for any knitter who wants to stretch their imagination, and learn to take their knitting in new directions.

Knitting New Scarves: 27 Distinctly Modern Designs

Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)

Acquired by: online purchase from Amazon.com

Purchase Price: $14.93

Cover Price: $21.95

The author and designer, Lynne Barr, has done the sort of thing that always makes my toes tingle. Diving in headfirst, she took the basic techniques of knits and purls, and then threw the rules out the window. She uses dpns, circular and flat knitting, short rows, picking up stitches, and more, in unconventional ways to create three-dimensional scarves that really wow me.

I am already itching to cast on for a large number of the patterns in this book. Some of them would be great as stash-busters, some simply manipulate the spatial reality of knitting in such tantalizing ways that I can’t wait to see these twists, turns, and shapes coming from my needles.

Here’s a small sampling of the many designs that caught my eye. As always, click on any image for a larger view.


That last scarf shows that there are even patterns for the rawest of new knitters here – it’s a simple garter stitch scarf that derives its curves from short rows. Some of the other patterns involve using double point needles in ways I never dreamed of – not just knitting around in a circle, but knitting to create lobes and wings and flaps. The wavy scarf is entirely created by knitting a flat tube with larger needls on one side, smaller on the other – then swapping the sizes at regular intervals.

I am unbelievably excited by this book, and eager to dig in. I love the idea of sculptural knitting, and I want to master these techniques so I can then play with them myself. The only question that remains – where to begin? There are 27 patterns in this book, and I think I want to knit every one of them!

Related Links:

The Ebb and Flow of The Tides

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Rats! — folkcat at 12:45 pm on Thursday, November 1, 2007

I’ve been thinking about my crafting again, and how it seems that everything else I do has been set aside for all entrelac, all the time. What about my hexagon piecing? My Weavette looms? When did I last embroider a rock, fuse some Perler beads, or piece some Pixels?

All crafters go through cycles where their focus on their work waxes, then wanes. Sometimes it’s just your brain telling you it needs a break from a particular technique. Other times, outside influences force a change in what you do. I think the changes may be less obvious, usually, in a multi-crafter like myself, because there’s always something in progress. Until, like now, a single craft dominates for months at a time.

I think there are a few factors at play here. Christmas is certainly one – I’m focusing on knitting items for gift giving, and that, of necessity, pushes aside other crafts with less definitive deadlines.

Then there’s Second Life – an online world where I can be and do anything. I used to play EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies – heck, I was one of the original beta testers for the latter – and part of me has missed having a virtual world to explore and “live” in. Second Life is fulfilling that desire, but it’s also added an extra drain to the daily schedule.

I think the biggest factor, though, has been the Rattie Sisters. They’ve been through a rollercoaster ride of emotions, ever since Star got so sick and Lola came into the family. They’re living, breathing, thinking creatures, and totally dependent on me and Gryphon for everything. So when they have a need, it has to come first. And they’ve been pretty needy in recent months.

I’ll touch wood as I type this next bit – with reality settling down for Sable and Lola, and the appearance of a peaceful concord between them, I might be able to start easing some of the other crafts back into my days. I really do want to keep on with the hexagon piecing, and finish the Pixel picture I made, sew together the Weavette squares I wove from my own handspun and make that pillow. The knitting is fun, especially when I can do so many entrelac bags, but with a little more freedom available, it’s time to re-introduce some of the other crafts.

Maybe – just maybe – I’ll take the hexagons to Panera tonight, instead of the knitting. That’s a thought. And then I won’t have to change the name of this blog from Crafting Jen to Entrelac Jen!

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