Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday snippets


... in which our plucky heroine makes a bouquet of straws grasped...

A portrait of the second snowdrop of 2015... I am tempted to find a way to plant more small bulbs here, they are always so cheering, not because eager for winter to be over, but because they are so stalwart about returning...

Yay! Seville orange marmalade success!! Six eight ounce jars, and one four ounce jar sealed and cooling. Nothing burned, texture is perfect, and I've some oranges left that didn't go into the batch, to try making period orange peel preserves. I'll probably also make some blood orange marmalade in the next week or two, now that I've got my confidence back again... My three favorite sweet preserves are quincemeat, marmalade, and strawberry rhubarb, and that order is the one in which the ingredients come available...

Just started reading "the life-changing magic of tidying up". While I am not sure I could carry out some of her instructions (no way am I dumping all my books in a pile on the floor to sort through them) I am drawn to her ideas, and finding myself starting to think about my possessions slightly differently, already...

In March, at the Heraldry Arts & Science Day, I'll be teaching a two hour class on carving a simple stamp that can be used for block printing.
This is an example of the kind of design that can be made in this class (this is my current SCA badge, which is used as a mark of "ownership")
This is an example of something you can do with a simple stamp... the background fabric of this sizeable tent wall hanging is printed in an allover pattern using the stamp of my badge (the central panel is a painted decoration inspired by my arms, that I made in a worshop taught by Linnet Kestrel many years ago)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

resolute


... in which our plucky heroine turns resolutely to the motto, perseverance makes positivity...

Organic Seville oranges mean the start of marmalade season, though they are difficult to find and usually only available for a week or two. I need to remember that they come ripe usually in January, and set aside a day for making preserves. After my burn-the-marmalade debacle on the 18th, it was good fortune to find some more still available, and this weeks attempt will be most cautious, having no desire to deal with another heavily burned pan, though learning the trick of applying peroxide and warming it to remove layers of burned-to-carbon sugar was a big help, the waste of all that time and effort, not to mention the oranges and sugar was most upsetting. This will be the first of three batches of marmalade, blood oranges are next, and then probably red grapefruit. Finishing up citrus season with some candied peel would be excellent; this year am hoping for a good balance between a bit more preserving, and a bit more garden activity, and since citrus are from faraway, any citrus preserves must needs happen when they are here!
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Yesterday my student Freydis came over for the afternoon, and as a way to demonstrate some basic soldering, I worked on fabricating the setting for a very small dress form enamel charm. The charm will be part of a larger sewing tools pendant/necklace, which in turn will be part of a shadowbox artwork: "time is a dressmaker specialising in alterations". This particular project has been percolating in the studio since the first concept showed up in my sketches in December 2012, but I am far more excited about the way it is shaping up now... stay tuned for further updates in the next few weeks. If all goes well I shall be having a small show at Azure Fine Art Gallery in Corvallis, in April, so in addition to my everyday work, am focusing on putting together a series of interactive shadowbox artworks that include my metalwork and enameling.

Obviously, this is the unset enamel, and the back of the bezel setting that will hold it (7/8 x 5/8"). I initially and unintentionally cut the base plate just a little bit smaller than the already soldered bezel. Some hammering with the ball peen both textured the back around the maker's mark, and stretched the base out just enough to make a good solder joint possible.
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Fortunately I am not always rarely quite as sunk in the depths of an emotional swamp as Monday's post might make it seem, and in truth I expect no magic answers, despite the stories in children's books... I do enjoy my own company, and enjoy time spent with friends, and strive to be accepting that my life is not shared in intimacy with anyone, and that the tactile and affectionate world, that for many some is a constant, is in my life more akin to Halley's Comet. I long for simple affection, the arm around the shoulders, the hugs and contact that tell our skin that all is well... ... a few good productive days like yesterday and I hope to be my usual and more cheery self.  In general I feel blessed with how many wonderful friends I do have both locally, at a distance, and online (as well as my parents and siblings, since we are also close though not nearby geographically). I do count my blessings every day, and practice gratitude, as a counterbalance to despair.





Monday, January 26, 2015

ghosts of creatures passed


...in which our plucky heroine walks again the old walks...

but more alone than ever, because alone is on the inside, not in the situation. Traveled up to Mud Bay last Friday, after a late start leaving Portland, with the intention of staying with my Fjords End pals, and having a chance to see the Blue Cedar House folk, a visit with both the little girls there who have been most vocal about missing their honorary "auntie", a visit with my oldest friend SC who is dealing with serious health issues, and an assortment of other Olympia area errands and etceteras...but first, here is an obligatory internet cat photo: Huginn and Muninn, the young cats of Mud Bay

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Early Saturday morning, took Toshi for a walk out to Perry Creek Bridge. All the valley was shrouded in  gradually lifting mist; couldn't help but remember all the myriad times I'd walked there, in brightness and in darkness, with my beloved Smokey, and with other dear ones now gone or gone from me. The memories of hands no longer holding mine, of little cats in the now derelict house, the ridge where the mushrooms grew, and the tiny houses with the goat pens in the back... the mist seemed all too full of wispy ghosts, like a surreal cross of Miyazaki and Adventure Time, that only I could see. The moss and lichen on the old bridge are larger than when last there, but girl is grateful indeed to be still hale enough to walk with a dog there and back, more than one time this past weekend.
Indeed, my Jen-bead earring fell out while I was faffing around with my camera, but fortunately when she and I walked back there later that day, it was still visible in the roadside mud; I'd have been most desolated to have lost it.
:::

Made progress over the weekend on several handwork projects. The Dragon's Mist crowns had their center panels cut to size and shape, though after discussion with Bill was decided that completing the enamels and settings first before the engraving of the supporting dragons is necessary, so those will be done in time for handing the work off at Founder's Revel in a few weeks.

My other projects were all textilia: did quite a bit of knitting on the Twilit Sky neckwarmer, and am about halfway done or more... I was worried that I might not have enough yarn (despite the fact that the listed amount of yarn in the skein is supposed to be 560 yards and the pattern only takes less than 300) and then it occurred to me that it might be that the reason for running out was that perhaps I put the yarn into two yarn balls because it exceeded the capacity of my winder! Sure enough, there was the rest in the box of blue yarns…

Have made good progress on the embellishment for the first tunic I am making for Mr Robertson, indigo blue linen embroidered in cream:
The edging is all couched, and the corbies are done in outline stitch, for better ability to render details. The one on the right is still just tracing paper, which will be basted in place then the embroidery stitched right through the paper, which is just barely durable enough to hold up to that, then can be easily torn away, leaving just the stitchery (as seen on the left)
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It was fun to see Blue Cedar House folks in their native habitat, and the girls flung themselves at me when I arrived, before returning to play with their friends. We all had a lovely lunch cooked by H and B, and Ellie gave me a watercolor landscape she painted. In my opinion, every kitchen is improved with some child art; this pretty thing will be a great addition to the decor here.

Unfortunately after the lovely lunch there was some serious though unintended foo between SC and myself that had her leaving for home before we could even talk. This was really upsetting to me; she'd made some assumptions about what I was and was not willing to do (without asking me). My primary goal this weekend was to have a chance to speak with her [on safe territory, since she owns a large and known to be unreliable Rottweiler-cross that I (and many other folks) am not willing to be around, a dog that nips/bites/disrespects humans. I have been bitten more than one time by large dogs, and do not intend to ever choose to put myself in a risky situation] but sadly, she took my refusal personally. While it is easy to say "not my circus not my monkeys", that rubs raw and wrong when it is an old friend of so many decades standing. Am still trying to figure out where to go next...

So it was rather a weekend of antinomy, where despite being in the places, and with many of the people, I am closest to, I went home feeling more isolated than before... not sure how I ended up in a life where I am tangential to some few, incidental to more, but central to no one but myself. Not sure if it is more painful to just stay by my ownself, and focus only on handicraft, or to continue to be with others, while standing outside the window with my nose pressed against the glass, watching those who are family together, with my pockets empty...

I know that this week will be all about getting work done, there are enamels to be made, various sewing work to be stitched, and a whole assortment of material world tasks that will fill as much time as I am gifted with. My time is better spent doing the work of the world, than in useless speculation and beating head against the brick wall of solitude...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

old school


... in which our plucky heroine is just a little bit quirky...

Every year in January I cut out, punch, and blockprint 3x5 cardstock calendar pages for my tiny aluminum Japanese notebook, my everyday hardcopy old-style planner. Two thirds of the way through the month and I am just now getting around to it... Back in 2010 when it became difficult to find printed inserts, I carved my own blank calendar stamp set that does a whole page at at time. I then need to fill in the actual numerical dates, but that is pretty quick. DIY for the win, it might be slow but it is all my own design, and the cardstock holds up much better than the flimsy paper currently available, even if I could find monthly calendar pages in this size...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

camouflage


...in which our plucky heroine takes up needles and yarn yet again...

So this week started in on a new knitting handwork project, since it is still deep in January, and though we are having a disturbingly dry and warm winter (drought worries dancing in my head), it is still cold enough that another warming option is welcome, and the current other handwork is too large to be suitable for carrying around on transit. Last winter, my friend Jen (the farther away one, not Ariadne) sent me some yarn that had been on my wishlist since the first time I saw it at Sock Summit #1; it isn't sock yarn but rather luscious worsted: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted - Raven Clan Haida.
The actual yarn is quite a bit darker than it looks in this photo, think corbies against the twilight sky... This will become a ribbed turtleneck cowl with a small capelet to keep my neck and shoulders warm; the free pattern (translated from the Finnish) is here on Ravelry. Am very pleased with the suggested buttonhole, in seed stitch as given it makes a Very Tidy Buttonhole indeed, and hopefully I will be able to suss out the rather confusing short row directions for shaping the front point...

Monday, January 19, 2015

cancer sucks


in which our plucky heroine remembers...

three years ago today I was in hospital, in surgery:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

brought to you by the letter P


...in which our plucky heroine spends the weekend with her dear Blue Cedar House friends, making progress on all manner of things: assorted projects, a plinth, wardrobe planning, and assorted pleasantry... (with a tiny preview of pi(e))
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Earlier this week began a simple couched embroidery design, on some woven-in striped linen; I like using the striped fabric as part of the embellishment, when I find stripes in a useful configuration. I think that this is the very last of this one inch wide stripe natural and white linen, which started out as a thrifted women's straight skirt about fifteen years ago, and eventually became yards of trim on assorted SCA clothing. (this kind of easy embroidery will be part of what I will be teaching at the February Arts and Sciences Day that Dragon's Mist is sponsoring next month)
Planning the tunic embroidery for William Robertson; a Twa Corbies design for the front yoke panel... this shows my image development from my first small quick sketch of the tunic in the center to the final design for the embroidery, which will be in cream outline stitch and couching on indigo linen. The stripes and circles embroidery will cover the seams where the sleeves attach to the body, and their contrast will make a focal point of his broad shoulders, with the front yoke panel a more subtle embellishment...


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This weekend I also had a chance to help Mindy (Mrs Robertson) get a little more comfortable with sewing; she wanted to learn to stitch a hem by hand, and by the time they needed to go home, well more than three-quarters of her SCA underdress* hem was successfully stitched. We talked about my also teaching her some hand embroidery, and to become comfortable using the sewing machine.

After a late brunch on Sunday, the three of us also sat down to plan out what clothing would be a good set of basic kit for an SCA weekend, and matched up the fabrics they had brought down with suitable garment ideas for the two of them and their little daughter. My goal is to have my friends be able to attend a three day event and be well and comfortably clothed, since they are wanting to get a bit more involved in my other favorite hobby...
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This weekend also saw the start of one big/small project: beginning the refrigerator plinth, a framework to raise my wee fridge up to a slightly more accessible height. It will be covered with a plywood skin and have a sliding drawer in the middle. Not anywhere as huge as it looks here, camera forced perspective somehow made this whole image look really odd 'tis about a foot tall and 2 ft x 2 ft square, and in fact Mr Robertson, while tall, is not as tall as the ceiling either!

And Sunday morning...the proto-plinth in place: raising the fridge just one foot makes a huge difference in how easy it is to access the lower shelf, and the bottom veggie drawer. This makes me all kinds of happy!!

There will be further work done on this project, a storage drawer to be made, and surface improvements: screw holes filled, edge banding applied, and a wood finish added once the outdoor temperature cooperates. I am considering adding a layer of true linoleum to the top, which will be both beautiful and practical, there is a large scrap in storage that might be suitable

The interesting thing is that what seems like a small change has really had a big effect on the "flow" of space in the kitchen. The whole kitchen space now seems less open, even though the floor plan is identical... Though perhaps simply rearranging the artwork, and maybe adding shelving of some sort might be an option, possibly storage for spices, mugs and/or cookbooks??? I foresee some cardboard mockups in my future, once some of the other, more urgent, projects are completed. Overall though, this is a project that will make a difference on a daily basis...
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The weekend went by all too quickly, and when planning our next meeting, the first day we all had free was March 14th... you know... Pi(e) Day! This will be a grand opportunity for a Pi Day Crafternoon!! Our intention is to spend Friday working on housey projects, and then Saturday afternoon I will host a Crafternoon here, to celebrate Pi Day with an all pie potluck and crafty shindig...
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* I started working on her underdress back in November, and while it has been mostly completed for the last two months, I hadn't finished the hemline, just folded it up and put it aside while I worked on holiday and 12th Night things...