12 Days of Design – Dear Diary… Days 3 and 4

12 Days of Design SpoonchallengeDear Diary, I’m still sort of ahead of schedule so I decided to post the stuff from both yesterday and today in this entry. Yesterday I was supposed to develop a colour palette, which I already knew before starting the challenge, and today has been about choosing a medium. By medium they mean the tool, be it paper, digital or something else. I suck at painting, drawing, and the like, so it’s computer all the way for me.

Yesterday I looked at the Spoonflower Color Guide, which they use as starting point for suggested colours to use in one’s designs when uploading to the website. Apparently the palette is such that what you see on screen will be printed quite similarly on the fabric.

My iMac, while a distinguished old lady at this point, does show colours slightly differently compared to how I see them on some newer screen, so today I’ve focussed on creating a cohesive palette which looks pleasing enough in the sense that the two lines work together as well as on their own, together internally as well as across lines in pairs (secondary and tertiary colours). And after having looked at this on two totally different screens, there are already visible differences, but on both there is enough but not too much “pop” for it to work.

In a couple of cases I would have liked to pick slightly different hues, but it’s more important to know that these choices would print well. So, without further talk, my two colour lines:

NWF 12 Days of Design - Colour palette 2014-12-04

Since this went well enough without any problems at all, I’m actually close to getting cold feet about the actual design. It’s so minimalist that I fear there won’t be any big bang, but perhaps this is my overthinking doing the talking again. The sneak peek for day 5 tells me sketching will commence tomorrow. Yikes.

Around the World Blog Hop

900px-Earth_Eastern_Hemisphere

My bee buddy Swedish Scrapper asked me whether I’d like to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop and I said yes, because it sounds like fun! It’s taken some time to get this post up, first because of illness and then since I haven’t found anyone to pass the torch on to.

If you haven’t participated yet, but would like to, please let me know in the comments and I’ll edit this intro to include a link to your blog! In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to a friend of mine, Kristy’s blog where she posted her answers earlier this year. She writes her own lovely patterns and as a matter of fact is having a sale currently.

EDIT: New quilter found via Instragram. Meet ArtL8dY, who will participate in the blog hop with a post!

The questions are these:

  1. What are you currently working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others?
  3. Why do you write/create what you do?
  4. How does your creative process work?

Let’s begin!

What are you currently working on?

I write monthly project posts to keep them organised and as realistic as possible. I have a crazy amount of different stuff going on in all areas of life and when planning it is easy to view each part separately from the other ones, which can result in too optimistic ideas of one’s capabilities within a certain time frame.

Flickr foryoudesigns 640My December projects therefore got pared down a bit compared to the ones I hoped to either move forward or finish entirely in November. Currently I’m working on a mug rug for the Scandibee Christmas swap as well as gifts for the holidays. There are no photos to show yet :)

In the making there is also a project pdf for managing quilting bee contributions, which I intend to sell at an affordable price. I’m putting the last touch on it as we speak and it should be for sale later this week. I’m really excited about it because I don’t think there is anything similar out there currently.

How does my work differ from others?

NWF Hand Embroidery - Sampler 2 Looped stitchesMany quilters are just that, quilters, but I like other crafts, too, such as general sewing, knitting, embroidery, and working with digital stuff. I would LOVE to learn how to sew my own clothes in a minimalistic style and you can look at my Project 333 board on Pinterest if you like. Regarding Pinterest, I try very hard to pin in a clear manner so that followers can decide which boards are of interest to them. Oh, and I’m Solsken Design on there, not Nina With Freckles, as I had to pick different social media for the two (can’t keep up with double of everything in all places).

I’m also working on building a small business out of this experience, which is something I have in common with even fewer people. My style is striving to become rather clean and minimalist; what I believe is the style Modern Quilt Guild is ultimately trying to push into the world. Focus will be on negative space and quite a lot of solid colours rather than patterned fabrics, but it’s still in the making only because the current fabric stash is mostly full of patterns.

In other words, I’m buzzing of ideas for quilt patterns to make and also there’s a bunch of ideas for embroidery patterns. Everything starts from breaking down stuff into manageable chunks, though, so it will take some time before you see it all come together here.

12 Days of Design SpoonchallengeSpoonflower is hosting a fabric-design challenge as we speak and I’m participating in it in an attempt to find out whether fabric design is for me or not. So far I’m having fun and there will be a post on my progress during days 3 and 4 later today.

Lastly, I think I differ quite a bit from many others in that I get overwhelmed from the mere thought of cranking out something crafty on a daily basis. In fact, I blogged about it not too long ago.

Why do you write/create what you do?

NWF Let's talk hexagons 2014-12-01I keep this blog not for myself only but for the enjoyment of others. By this I mean that I hope I create different sorts of original content that will inspire, teach, and provoke to new thoughts. I love doing research on various technical topics such as what sewing needle one should use in which context, how to wind the thread on a sewing machine the best way, and more. Recently I created a page with clickable pictures in a gallery for the purpose, since I think there’s no use if all information is accessible through tags and categories only; there’s too much to scroll through. In other words, “enjoyment of others”.

NWF Create your collage 2014-03-07Take a look at my other blog pages, too, some of which are under construction still and others, such as the fabric palette gallery, are completely up-to-date now. The idea is that if you can’t keep up with this place on a frequent basis, you’ll have easy access later on to what might interest you. My fabric palettes are an exception in that I usually only make them for myself and within rules that I set (unless I participate in a contest).

Through blogging I’ve made some good internet friends and Instagram has opened even more doors. It is a pleasure interacting with these people around the world and the most recent addition is Scandibee, which you can find on Flickr as well as Instagram under that hashtag. All ladies are in Europe and most are in Scandinavia. Quilting isn’t huge in Finland, so this international twist to my work is very welcome.

In short, I do this to grow and learn new things, including waltz outside of my comfort zone on a frequent basis. It’s not good to become too set in one’s ways, but the brain needs a decent airing out often.

How does your creative process work?

I’m not sure. I find inspiration in nature and in various man-made structures around me. Recently I saw a photo of a tattoo on a man’s back, which was made in minimalist Japanese style in black only and there certainly is a blackwork or other embroidery pattern in the making inspired by it. My collection of inspirational pictures is quite large at this point.

NinaWithFreckles - Hawthorn Threads palette 9Colour palettes are very important to me and while I’m learning still, I think my eye has already been trained quite a bit to see what stands out the wrong way and what works as a nice colour punch to put the dot on the i. I’m not satisfied with the concept of “it will do”, but will keep on tweaking until I’m pleased. And not even then will it always be “perfect”, but that’s when I have learned not to take out the seam ripper anymore.

As should be evident from the monthly project posts I mentioned earlier, I have lots of projects going on simultaneously. I tend to get bored easily and need something else to jump to then. For the longest of time I’ve thought of this tendency as not so great, but I’m trying to let go of ideals set by others as guidelines for their work. As long as the projects get done at some point, there is no problem, at least for me.

I could keep writing, because the questions are interesting, but instead I do as always, finish with a suggestion to comment and ask questions. I love questions and other forms of interactions here! Currently I have a backlog of other blogs to visit, but I follow them all on bloglovin’ and will get up-to-date before the year is over, so follow me there if you like. Thanks for reading and Happy Thursday to you!

12 Days of Design – Dear Diary… Day 2

12 Days of Design Spoonchallenge Dear Diary, today’s assignment is to pick a theme. My theme is a repeating geometric shape, which I will design from scratch, and the sneak peek to day 3 reveals that the colour palette will be discussed tomorrow only. In other words, “pick a theme” merely refers to a general theme such as rainbow, sewing gear, or holiday trees.

It seems like I’m way ahead of schedule still, which is nice enough, because I have incredibly long daily to-do lists currently (although the Bullet Journal is rocking my socks off when it comes to staying organised). But I fear it will become increasingly demanding since there are only ten days left of the challenge. Surely designing something from scratch with the requirement to create a perfectly repeating pattern is difficult? On the other hand, the challenge for newbies lasts twelve days only, so perhaps it isn’t so tricky after all?

I think I don’t like not knowing a general schedule beforehand, but I also think I shouldn’t worry too much over nothing. Stop thinking, dear.

December 2014 Projects – Challenge

Flickr foryoudesigns 640

Flickr foryoudesigns – Hexies everywhere

In December, I would love to get my projects moving in the following ways.

I would like to finish the following projects:

  • Christmas presents: Make nine clutch-type of pencil cases – Deadline 19.12.
  • Journal cover – Deadline 31.12.
  • Mug rug for Scandibee swap – Deadline 10.12.
  • Zabuton – Deadline 31.12.

These projects I’d like to make progress on in the following way:

  • breathe quilt – Cut top, back, and batting, baste, draw letters, start quilting
  • Code:Armonika cowl – Pick up project and start knitting again
  • Pin cushion – Investigate filling in sewing store
  • Placemats – Get masking tape
  • Skill Builder 2013 quilt – Make the Magnum block
  • Teapot cover – Design custom cover pattern (the last month mentioned pattern was the FPP teapot only)

In December, it’s the most important to get the gifts made, including the swap mug rug. The rest is according to how I feel.

 

November 2014 Projects – How did I do?

Flickr rcdesigner 640

Flickr rcdesigner

I wanted to finish the following projects and here’s how things went down:

  • Journal cover – Deadline 30.11. > Not done.
  • Pin cushion – Deadline 30.11. (provided I find the filling I have in mind) > Need to check what filling they have in the notions store first.
  • Placemats – Deadline 30.11. > Have cut backing and batting for all placemats, first one is partly quilted, but I need masking tape because the white quilting stands out so much and it needs to be straight. The fabric patterns make the seams jump in front of my eyes, so tape is needed.
  • Zabuton - Deadline 30.11. > Don’t have zippers long enough and haven’t had my way past the notions store yet.

These projects I wanted to make progress on in the following way:

  • breathe quilt – Cut top, back, and batting, baste, draw letters, start quilting > Not done.
  • Mug rug for Scandibee swap – Once inspiration mosaic is available, see whether pattern I have in mind is suitable, and pick fabrics, start working on it (since it is a secret project, there won’t be photos but until after the recipient has her hands on it) > Work is in progress!
  • Skill Builder 2013 quilt – Make the Sound Wave and Magnum blocks > Sound wave done.
  • Tea pot cover – Finish pattern > Done 2.11.
  • Zafu – Investigate filling options > Will buy a ready-made one which has a shape that I like.

What I have done is work on the blog and my other blog, too. It’s a boring job in some ways, but needs to get done before I create more content here. And when I try to make too big a fuss of scheduling the tasks, I tend to procrastinate forever. So when inspiration (well, flow) hits, I need to ride the wave for as long as it lasts. This is a good reminder to keep aiming for realistic expectations, though.

12 Days of Design – Dear Diary… Day 1

12 Days of Design SpoonchallengeDear Diary, today is day 1 of the 12 Days of Design challenge by Spoonflower and I have received my first email. Today’s task is to gather inspiration, but I have already done that, as you know. Instead, I have picked a few of all my inspiration pictures from various places online and made a collage.

I feel very inspired and have no idea of why the Spoonflower people suggest there might be a lack of inspiration. It is my first challenge to design a fabric pattern after all and if I wouldn’t feel inspired now, would I ever?

Anyway, since I don’t have any fancy software to use, I think it is best if I go with something easily created that is completely repetitive and where the colours can truly shine. I’m still set on the original tone-on-tone idea and might create a whole colour palette if the pattern itself is easily constructed.

I have some lovely transparency inspiration photos in my collection, but they would require at least three hues, so that has become another restriction – only two will be used this time. I do want to finish this project in a timely manner and fear that, if I try too much at once, I would never have anything to upload to Spoonflower.

With these ponderings done, I now eagerly wait for tomorrow’s email.

P.S. I truly hope that some of my quilting buddies will join me.

Installing fonts and keeping them organised on a Mac

NWF Installing fonts and organising them 2014-12-01

While I’ve read numerous blog articles over the years on where to find free typefaces, how to use them in different combinations, and what to make with them, I’ve never seen addressed the issue of installing and keeping them organised. All I know about fiddling with digital stuff is what I’ve learned through trial and error, or in a rare instance with the help of a tutorial. Since it’s Monday and tech stuff are on the menu, I might as well walk you through how I make this happen.

The first mistake I made was not to have a strategy

I’m still sorting through my old mess and only recently did I make a decision to stick to my latest system for the foreseeable future. Trust me when I say that a mess can be made even worse, when one jumps from a system to another, since the former didn’t quite work.

The second mistake I made was not to understand the importance of licencing

Since you don’t know what your skills or interests will look like a year or five from now, do yourself a favour and save the original font file with licence. If you don’t understand yet what the differences are, at least save the licence for future reference. Some fonts are free for all sorts of use, whereas others are a total no-go to use apart from in personal projects. There was a time when I thought I’d be more organised when less cluttered, so in quite a genius manner I deleted everything apart from the original font file. There’s a point to the licence that clutters up your computer when you click “Download file”.

The third mistake I made was not to understand different sorts of typefaces

By this I mean that there are various font classifications such as serif, sans serif (sans means “without”), display, novelty, and more. A display font can of course be serif and a novelty font can be suitable for display use, so this part is up to the website to organise, where you download your fonts. My absolute favourite is FontSquirrel, because they keep things neat and lovely to look at as well as quick to navigate. The bonus point is stated in their website header: 100% free for commercial use. Anything you download there can be used in future projects as long as you have the licence (with some exceptions).

So what now?

I didn’t create an organising system based on the font categories used by FontSquirrel from the beginning, but simply saved all of them in single file (haha). Fonts installed on a Mac can be managed in the application Font Book, which you will find in the Applications folder. I’m about to install the font Vidaloka so tag along!

FontSquirrel 1

The device pictures underneath the font name Vidaloka are links, so hover above and click them, and read what you are allowed to do, where you’re allowed to use this font.

The Specimens tab is very useful. According to my newest system I take screenshots like the one below and save them in a samplers folder. In this case, the name of the picture file is “Font – Display – Vidaloka”. Finder will find the file if I look for “font”, it’s useful to know how FontSquirrel categorises it, and the name goes without explanation.

For taking screenshots, I keep the Grab application (Applications > Utilities) in my Dock and have learned the usual keyboard shortcuts, so that the left and right hands are clicking and typing in a fluid motion. While my process presented here might sound laborious, it’s super quick thanks to those shortcuts in different software. Note that Grab saves in tiff format, so you might want/have to change it to jpg or other later. I change it immediately to keep the file size smaller on an old iMac (it adds up when there are colourful images etc. in tiff).

FontSquirrel 2

This sampler gives a great idea of how this font works, whether it is suitable as paragraph or heading font, how it might pair up with another font, and so on. Since I have it saved, I don’t have to go back online just to look at the Specimen. All websites don’t even offer this perk nor can you take the font for a test spin such as in the Test Drive tab. And at some point this font (including licence) may not even be available for download anymore.

Note that some fonts have more than one specimen. Ostrich Sans is an example:

FontSquirrel 4

If the other versions look fairly similar, I grab only one screenshot, but in the case of dingbats there may be more of them. Typically, if there are several specimens, there will also be more than one font file to install.

My next step is to look at the Glyphs overview. Since this is a normal font, I only pay attention to whether it has European letters included or not, because I keep a folder in Font Book called “ÅÄÖ”. It’s a nifty way to check whether I should consider a font when spelling “God Jul och Gott Nytt År” (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year). (One “ar” is an area unit in the metric system, whereas one “år” is a year; huge difference…)

Had this font been a dingbat, I would take screenshots or print-to-pdf all the “locations” of the various symbols. A weakness of Font Book is that there isn’t a built-in feature to match a letter to a symbol. I’ve spent too much time trying through the keyboard letters, until I had the heureka moment to take screenshots. Have a look at Floralia:

FontSquirrel 3

In the case of dingbats, I name the screenshots the same way as the Specimen screenshot, and add a number at the end to keep them sorted together.

Next you download the font. It will be saved in the Downloads folder as a zip file. Once you have unzipped it, a normal file folder will appear and you can move to trash the zip file.

FontSquirrel 5

On FontSquirrel you will find both otf and ttf files. Both will work fine.

To install the font on your computer, double-click the file and you will see this:

FontSquirrel 6

Click Install Font. This should open the Font Book application, if you haven’t opened it yet.

My Font Book looks like this, with quite a mess still in the collections in the left-hand column but it’s getting more neat by the month (week is too optimistic to say):

FontSquirrel 7

Another weakness of Font Book is that you can’t tag fonts to create smart collections like in iPhoto, but everything is manual. This is the reason for my obsession with keeping track of everything, from naming font sampler and glyph screenshots to creating samplers in a single folder, to keeping original font folders (the ones we just saw in Downloads) sorted according to category. The upside is that it comes with the OS (I have 10.6.8 and it might look different on your Mac) and is free. Font managers are expensive pieces of software.

Here’s a close-up of a portion of my collection column:

FontSquirrel 8

FS is FontSquirrel and refers to their system of categories. IFS is icke-FS (non-FS), fonts from other places such as dafont. FontSquirrel uses tags, too, so a font categorised as Display goes into “FS Display”, and, if tagged serif, will appear in “Stil Serif” (Style Serif). You can see this information below the font specimen.

Some other style collections I have are “Stil Består av bitar” (Style Consists of pieces) in case of for instance Costura, which looks like cross stitch, and “Stil Hög smal” (Style Tall narrow). Think about what you like about fonts, see if there’s a red thread, and create a collection.

My theme (Tema) collections are another example. Fest is Party and Barn is Kids. The rest, I believe, you can figure out. All these topic-based folders  (Style and Theme) will contain fonts found on various websites. For instance in the Valentine collection I have Paper Hearts from dafont. Paper Hearts also appears in “Style Consists of pieces”, quite logically :)

There’s something very useful about Font Book that I actually discovered only recently, namely the Preview menu. The standard view is Sampler, like you saw earlier of the Vidaloka font that we installed. This will show only a portion of the characters and my beloved Å, Ä, and Ö among others aren’t visible.

If you click on Repertoire, however, you will see all the characters that are part of the font file. This can come in handy in the case of webdings also (blog social media buttons, hello – like mine made from scratch). And finally, Custom is a built-in Test Drive! How cool is that.

Conclusion

I mentioned mistakes I’ve made in the beginning and these examples are here to show you that even if you don’t create a huge bunch of empty collection folders yet, at least you might look at fonts differently already when deciding to download or not.

Because the fourth mistake I made was to download aimlessly. It’s a bit like pinning stuff on Pinterest without any aim at all. When boards are a mess, I can’t find my way around them and hence won’t keep track of what you pin, unless a picture appears in my feed. Other users will actually also find you better via search when you name the board “Typography” or similar, rather than “Oh these are so cool”, if it contains font samplers, great movie posters designed, and what not. (Search algorithms may be boring, but they do get the job done as long as you help them.) During the past few months I’ve therefore deleted around 100 fonts so far and more are on their way out still.

I hope this walk-through has shown you how easy it is to start working with fonts. I will write another tutorial in the future about how to create stuff with them, but for now I think there’s enough to chew on.

As usual, if you have any questions at all, please do ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. I have no great idea of how fonts work on Windows, so that’s an area you’ll have to ask someone else about, but the functionality in general of this tutorial will work beautifully for Windows users, too.

Are you a Mac user? Have you got more tips and tricks up your sleeve? Or does this post cover something you’ve always thought you will never learn how to do?

Fabric palette #9

NinaWithFreckles - Hawthorn Threads palette 9

Since I’m about to partake in the Spoonflower design challenge, I thought it a good idea to look at fabrics again. Maureen Cracknell’s Luminous Field in Glow was the starting point this time. It is safe to say that a palette has never been this slow to assemble before, because I wanted to bring out all the colours found. I actually had to take a break because the scrolling and auditioning became so laborious.

The last piece found was Anna Maria Horner’s Echinacea and I was particularly pleased about it, because the red in Luminous Field is a tricky one. The only suitable red otherwise found is the one in Morning Keepsake, which I found when looking in the mustard section. All this I tell you because it was a Huge Undertaking to create this palette for your enjoyment. Huge. Which is also evident by all the text in this post, as I’m usually just posting the palette with links.

Here they are:

  1. Detour, Arrows in Blue by Bo Bunny for Riley Blake Designs.
  2. Fox Field, Baby Geo in Dusk by Tula Pink for Westminster / Free Spirit.
  3. Rapture, Hypnotic Paramour in Rose by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  4. Oval Elements in Sapphire by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  5. Dots, Medium Dots Tone on Tone in Green by Riley Blake Designs.
  6. Wild and Free, Luminous Field in Glow by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  7. Gramercy, Commute in Taxi by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  8. Heirloom, Marquis in Amethyst by Joel Dewberry for Westminster / Free Spirit.
  9. Lilly Belle, Rattan Bleu in Blush by Bari J. Ackerman for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  10. Dowry, Lineage in Taffy by Anna Maria Horner for Westminster / Free Spirit.
  11. Pretty Potent Flannel, Echinacea in Boost by Anna Maria Horner for Westminster / Free Spirit (or you can use cotton).
  12. Spot on Pearlized, Medium Spot in Peach by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
  13. Alhambra II, Cashmere Cameo in Night by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  14. Botanics, Line Scratch in Blue by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
  15. Winged, Plumage in Apricot by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics.
  16. Wild and Free, Morning Keepsake in Sun by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics.

Whilst working on this fabric palette I thought to myself that it was my wackiest one so far, that it would look really weird and that nobody would like it. I added – and deleted again – more candidates than ever before, and for some strange reason felt guilty about it, almost like I was saying no to an actual person. It’s not like I couldn’t use them in some other project *eyeroll*

Have you ever had this happen when you audition fabrics for your quilts or other projects? Do you get emotionally attached to them somehow? I seem to be doing a fine job of it…

12 Days of Design Challenge

12 Days of Design Spoonchallenge

Hello hello, I’ve been ill ever since Wednesday last week and yesterday was the first productive day again. Feels great to be back :) Hope things have been going better at your end!

To my excitement, I read yesterday that Spoonflower is arranging a challenge called 12 Days of Design starting on 1 December and anyone can sign up to learn how to design fabric from idea to final product. Click on the link for more information on their blog.

You probably guess from the huge picture above that I signed up to receive these emails. I’ve been looking at fabrics for quite some time now and feel there is a distinct gap to fill in the tone-on-tone section of a fabric stash, so I’m hoping to design something within this category.

Speaking of Spoonflower, in case someone’s curiosity has been awakened, yes, I do have a profile there. It’s still totally newbie and needs to be streamlined with this blog. All of that is cooking behind the scenes right now, I can assure you.

Are you harbouring secret dreams of becoming a fabric designer one day? If yes, join me and we can share the experience! I’m sure it will be both fun and educational :)