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Picking Up A New Hobby: Embroidery

I think I’ve mentioned this many times before on my blog, but i’m not exactly good with my hands. There are people out there who have a natural affinity for this sort of thing (painting, pottery, fixing lightbulbs, cooking, etc.) — I, sadly, am not one of them.

As a kid, I always had my nose in a book, and while I could spout obscure trivia about ancient Egyptian religions, theories on evolution and how dinosaurs could have gone extinct, I couldn’t make or fix anything to save my life. I also sucked at sports. In short, I was (and still am), a big nerd. In an RPG, I’d probably be the wizard or some sort of priestess; all brains and no brawn. INT5, AGI, STR and DEX 0.

The hobbies I enjoy (and can stick to) tend to involve pursuits of the mind, like reading and blogging. Also, being an INTP with the attention span of a goldfish, I tend to flit from one hobby to another — usually whatever catches my fancy at the moment (I dabbled in drawing comics, making figurines, soap making, candle making). My interest usually fizzles out if:

a) I don’t get the hang of it within 2 sessions, or

b) I find that it’s actually pretty easy, and I get bored lol (I do sound like a fickle and hard-to-please person, don’t I?)

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So when I ordered an embroidery kit a couple of months ago, I surprised even myself. The idea of repeatedly poking a needle and thread through a piece of cloth didn’t exactly scream excitement, but I was bored of being stuck at home (thanks, COVID!) and wanted to do something different.

A couple of weeks prior, I had ordered some air-dried clay in a horribly misguided attempt at making polymer clay jewellery. After the first few pieces ended up looking like they came out of Satan’s butthole, I promptly gave up. My embroidery kit seemed set to end up in the same place; at the bottom of a box in a corner, together with the rest of my failed ‘projects’.

But then…

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I actually found stitching to be… oddly satisfying. And it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, even for my sausage fingers. Sure, I couldn’t pull off dainty, tiny stitches, but the ones I made seemed good enough for ‘everyday use’, so to speak. It was challenging enough to keep my interest, but not difficult to the point where I’d give up.

One of my biggest weaknesses is wanting fast and easy results — if I don’t pick up something immediately (or within a few tries), I tend to get discouraged and lose interest. To prevent this from happening, I chose a piece with an easy pattern: one that used basic, easy stitches even beginners could follow, but would still look nice enough for display.

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The first piece came together nicely, and although I messed up some parts, it still looked pretty good. Knowing how bad I am usually with handicrafts, and seeing that it was my first time, I felt a tiny surge of pride at the results.

Which prompted me to order another kit. And another.

At the time of this writing, I have completed three pieces, with three more to go. Not counting all the equipment and thread I bought separately.

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My second piece had a bit more colour, and I learned a few different stitching techniques.

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While I enjoy embroidery as an activity for relaxation – there are a couple of takeaways from this new hobby of mine, which I think are good to reflect on.

It’s okay not to be perfect

I am a perfectionist, and I often think that whatever I make doesn’t match up to the standards that I have in mind (A lifetime of being told you’re not good enough will do that to you). As a result, I often miss opportunities to showcase what I have, because of my pervasive fear of rejection and failure. That, and I refuse to present anything short of (what I think is) perfection. I miss out on a lot of things because my lack of self confidence holds me back; even if I have a great idea, I overthink things and end up not voicing them out at all. It’s true what they say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

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That’s just it though – in the real world, perfection rarely exists. Even when I was posting my second embroidery piece, I kept criticising my own stitching, despite other people telling me that it looked okay. It’s a bad habit, but being more aware of it means that I can actively take steps to prevent myself from getting into that head space. So yeah, it’s okay for that stitch to not be completely straight; I shouldn’t beat myself up about it. If anything, it adds character to the piece and shows that it’s made by a human, not a machine.

Practice

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As mentioned earlier, I have a short attention span and little patience. Unlike people who feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach a milestone after months (or even years) of hard work, the same concept when applied to me would just make me feel stupid and incompetent. I like to be able to grasp something quickly – which is why many of my projects have a great head start but run out of steam eventually. The reality is, many things require practice – Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have to constantly remind myself that it took years for masters to reach the pinnacle of their art, if ever.

You do You

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I follow many artists on Instagram, and it can be daunting to see how amazingly talented some people are. It can also feel like no matter how hard I work, or what I do (channeling some Rock Lee from Naruto here), I’ll never catch up to their level of genius – so why bother? This kind of apathy can be dangerous and soul crushing for aspiring creatives. Again, I have to constantly remind myself that I, too, can make good art and contribute useful ideas. Art is subjective, really – and there’s beauty in just the act of creating. Even if you’re the only person who admires your own art, as long as you’re working to create something and improving on your skills, then there is no such thing as ‘wasted’ effort. And that applies for things besides art. Like life, in general.

Currently, I’m looking to work on more pieces and if I’m comfortable enough, open up for commissions. Embroidery is a pretty expensive hobby when you count in the cost of materials and time, so I’m hoping that by doing so I can offset some of the costs. And who knows? Maybe this’ll be one of those things that will keep my interest as long as blogging has.

What are some of the projects that you’re currently working on? Have you picked up a new hobby during the pandemic? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about them.

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I Did A Vlog! New Haircut For The New Year, CNY Deco and Makeup Haul

A new thing for 2020? We’ll see how long it lasts.

sabotaging self before it even begins; gotta stop doing this to myself lmao

 

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Love Toys and Superheroes? Check Out Mancave Cafe and Collectibles @ Bandar Puteri Puchong

Normally I’m not into the whole hype thing with new cafes because I hate lining up (so many better things I could do with my time… play computer games, for instance. lol) but this one, I really wanted to go to after seeing a friend’s Instagram post.

That’s because MANCAVE Cafe and Collectibles in Bandar Puteri Puchong is home to dozens of lifelike toys and figurines from superhero/fantasy/sci-fi comic books, novels and films. A place where you can eat/drink AND admire these figurines at the same time? It’s literally a nerd/geek’s wet dream come true.

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Mancave is tucked on the first floor of a three-storey building within BP’s commercial district, just down the road from McDonald’s/Starbucks. I think because it’s still new it was quite empty during our visit.

Like the village idiot, I literally went ‘Wahhh’ when I entered the place. Toys and figurines lined the center island, which was surrounded by bar stools. The space had a dash of steam punk married with purposefully unfinished design elements: a metal grille separating the dining area, coiled steel lamps, a cool black and grey colour scheme, balanced out by warm yellow lighting, wooden floors and exposed brick walls.

Chose to sit right in front of The Hulk. It was so lifelike it looked like it would have readily smashed its fist into my face at any moment. Everything from the seemingly real tuft of hair, the crease of the Hulk’s indestructible pants (have you never wondered why he never rips them but goes through his shirts like nothing?) down to the figurine’s toenails and individual teeth were done to minute detail. It’s no wonder die hard collectors are willing to shell out RM15,000 for this.

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Next to Hulk was the Black Panther, complete with a background piece. This was comparatively cheaper at RM3,000++ lol.

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Other Marvel superheroes, the likes of Thor, Captain America and Ironman.

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Tore myself away from the figurines for a bit and went to check out what they had on the menu. There’s an interesting-looking ‘moss cake’, muffins, bagels, croissants and juices. Patrons can also choose to order pizza, pasta and waffles, although the menu is quite limited atm.

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Cosy lounge area.

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S ordered waffles, which came with a side of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was nice and creamy, not too sweet, and topped with some marshmallows and a mini pretzel. Waffles were also nice and fluffy, drizzled over with some chocolate sauce.

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Just had dinner earlier so went for a hot chocolate. Again, not too sweet or cloying, which was just the way I liked it! The chocolate was thick and milky, and they serve it in a nice big mug.

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Another section of the cafe, dedicated to the Dark Knight.

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Different version of the Bat.

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This area looked like a long vanity mirror. Good for selfies, not so good for Eris I would not eat while looking at myself as if I don’t know I’m fat enough omg. Some decorative busts sat overhead.

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The other side of the fence had some DCU characters.

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Harley Quinn from Arkham Asylum. Love the ruffles and the boots!

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Transformers fans can feast their eyes on this majestic figure of Megatron. Only RM10k. lol.

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Then there is this wooden cabinet housing more Batman items, as well as some Lord Of The Rings figurines.

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If I had the money, I would legit get one of these, put it on an altar at home and fk with my kids’ friends when they came over to visit and see a Gandalf shrine.

“Your mom worships this?”

This is why I shouldn’t have kids

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I am a fan, but not big enough of a fan to correctly identify what troll this is and which part in the series it appeared in

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Smexy Deadpool. I found the latest movie kinda meh tbh.

Spent some more time sipping the hot choco and admiring the sights, then we ended up at McDonalds anyway because I wanted fried chicken.

All in all, a really cool place to hangout! I suggest visiting while they still are still relatively quiet now and not yet swarmed with crowds.

MANCAVE CAFE AND COLLECTIBLES 

17-1, First Floor, Jalan Puteri 7/13A, Bandar Puteri Puchong, Selangor.
Business hours : 2pm-12am (Mon-Fri), ;12pm-12am (sat-sun)
Tel: 012-260-9512

facebook.com/mancavecafecollectibles/

 

 

 

Sunday Sketches

*late post

I know I’m always clamouring about how I’m working 24/7, but on rare weekends where I DON’T have actual work to do… I’m bored to death :’D

Decided to clean my room and found an old cache of (expired) eyeliners and nail polish. It was a waste to just throw them out, so I did a little something:

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Tada! 

It’s been awhile since I last drew/sketched anything. The thing with me and drawing is that it usually comes in what I call ‘spurts’ ie I’d be super inspired to draw for hours on end, and then have weeks or even months where I don’t feel like drawing anything.

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Pencil, ink and crayons.

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Bought these ages ago on impulse and barely used them 😀

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K done showoff lol.  Hope you guys are having a good week!

 

Sewing World Gallery, One City USJ

I can’t sew to save my life. I mean, a loose button won’t be a problem, but anything beyond that will have me stumped. If this was 50, 60 years ago, I’d probably be ‘unmarriageable’, but thankfully (or not?) times have changed. Still, I think sewing is a great skill to have.

While catching a movie with S at One City USJ recently, we came across this newly opened place called Sewing World Gallery – a sewing/tailoring school cum shop/gallery which has loads of interesting items on display. Didn’t manage to see much of it the first time around coz we were rushed for time, so I came here on the weekend with my mum to check it out.

The place is massive – you can spend more than an hour exploring the place as an ‘art gallery’ on its own. At the entrance, we were greeted by colourful pouffes, knitted items and creative crafts, such as a bag made through the ‘anyaman‘ (weaving) method using Nescafe coffee sachets.

There also carry bespoke bags and designs that you won’t find elsewhere. The gallery offers classes every weekend, so you can make your own items. There’s a workspace upstairs equipped with all the essentials such as sewing kits and machines, as well as trainers who will guide you through the process.

The museum corner at the back of the gallery sports a collection of old items such as this charcoal-powered iron (my aunt has one – you put the charcoal pieces into the bottom slot) and sewing machines where you have to press the pedal to power it.

Some of the beautiful pieces on display.

There’s so much you can create from sewing/stitching/knitting. Tea cosies, small ‘cushions’ for your smartphones, pouches, coin holders, pillow cases.

These wonderful tapestries would make a welcome addition to any home.

Kids will love these giant stuffed toys. The colourful little dogs and chickens on the floor are door stoppers.

Chairs with coffee sacks as covers. Upcycling at its finest.

The gallery is also home to the largest bag in Malaysia, as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records. The quirky looking patchwork structure even has ‘handles’, although I can’t imagine any occasion where someone can take this out. 😀

Smaller bags on the inside of the giant bag.

Quilting samples.

Room decorated with quilt covers, carpets and bright funky-looking pillows.

Small souvenirs for sale.

These ‘aprons’ on the cooking oil bottles were cute and amusing.

costume made out of Nescafe sachets.

Arabic calligraphy.

All in all, there was lots to see at the Sewing World Gallery, even if you’re not a sewing enthusiast. Drop by for a visit – it might pique your interest in sewing.

SEWING WORLD GALLERY 

C-01-01 to 08, Block C, Level 1, Sky Park @ One City, Jalan USJ 25/1; 47650 Subang

Sketches – Bunga Raya / Gumamela

Ever since I started working, I haven’t had much time to touch my pens – either because I was too tired or too lazy after a long day running around looking for stories. I picked them up again recently and realised how much I’ve missed drawing just for the fun of it.

Here’s my latest work! *PS: I am by no means a professional artist, nor have I gone for any training/classes.. so don’t be too harsh on it mmk?

Bunga raya (hibiscus flower), the Malaysian national flower. It comes in various shades, but the most common ones I see are  in red. I like it coz the petals are soft and wide, with a long stalk in the middle. When the wind blows, they look just like pretty skirts dancing in the breeze. I showed E and he said it’s called gumamela in the Philippines, where children use the sticky sap to dip into papaya stalks as straws to blow bubbles.

It’s great to pick up a pencil and draw again. Since I was a kid, drawing has always been my first love, but I never got to pursue it professionally because my parents, like most Asian families, didn’t think much of it as a career. In high school, my brother and I were avid manga lovers and we loved drawing comics and manga. I even sold them to my friends, which went towards pocket money funds. But my mum, probably super frustrated that the two of us were gonna end up ‘failures’ because we seemed more interested in sketching than studying, flew into such a rage one time that she tore up some of our sketches. We didn’t sketch so openly at home after that.

In college, I took up journalism. It wasn’t my first choice, but since I liked writing, it was better than being forced to study accountancy (which was my family’s choice). Some Asian parents seem to have this notion that accountancy, law, medicine or engineering are the only careers out there that will guarantee you won’t starve to death. Common advice – “You want happy? Happy won’t put food on table, happy won’t pay your bills.”

I often wonder where I’d be now if I had taken up my original love for illustration as a career path. One of my high school friends did and while I don’t think she’s very well-off in terms of material wealth, I think she’s happy. Her story is probably one of the reasons why my parents don’t like art. But at the same time, I wish they had believed in me enough to let me try. Who knows?

Happy Deepavali!

It’s Deepavali (or Diwali as it is known in some other parts of the world), which is the festival of lights for Hindus. My neighbours were letting off fireworks earlier, but it started raining a few minutes ago. >-<

Here’s a kolam-inspired peacock sketch that I did in the evening. Took me an hour to draw and colour … I haven’t had much time to draw stuff these days. Happy Deepavali to those celebrating it! 🙂

Hipster Haul from Typo, Pavilion KL

 

Hipsters can’t be defined because then they’d fit in a category, and thus be too mainstream.- Urban Dictionary

What is a hipster? I have been called a hipster-wanna-be due to my penchant for indie bands, love for beanies and my perhaps slightly holier-than-thou, know-it-all attitude. (gimme a break guys, I’m an INTJ :D)

The fact that I’m working in the media/writing industry probably contributes to that image as well.

I don’t mind being called one, because isn’t that what people like to do? It’s so hard to ‘categorise’ someone because we all have different traits and beliefs, so to make it simple, we lump everyone who ‘conforms’ to this image into the same category, so that we can have the illusion of ‘understanding’ them better.

I’m digressing again.

I was at Pavilion KL and was going to the parking lot when a corner shop caught my eye (due to a large display of a cat wearing black-rimmed glasses) (which is, I am told, a purveyor of hipster. I just wear them because I’m nearly half-blind, lol.)

IT. WAS. HEAVEN. 

I couldn’t take photos because the sales guy was eyeing me like a hawk out of the corner of his eye, and I’m pretty sure photography of items wasn’t allowed. The place was a hipster dream, with arts and crafts, and glorious NOTEBOOKS WITH AWESOME COVERS everywhere. I would have bought the entire store, but I only had so much in my wallet, lol. I’m going back there again if I’m in Pavilion KL. The shop is called TYPO, and it’s a subsidiary of Cotton On.

Haul:

Notebooks (RM17.50 each). There were actually many cat ones that I wanted to get, but budget.

Steel Nomad tumbler (RM50) with kitties. Who can resist!? The printout can be removed and for those more creative ones out there, you can showcase your own artwork on the tumbler.

RM6 (which goes to charity, apparently) evil-fox print recycling bag.

Other stuff I got from my cocktail evening assignment: customised souvenirs!

Mermaid bookmark:

Leather coin pouch with customised name. 😀 Much doge, so wow

Til next post!

TYPO 

Pavilion, 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia