Tuesday, February 24, 2009

you snooze you lose...

I have made a grievous error. My Lee Valley supplement catalog came yesterday. I saved it to read as bedtime reading (yes I know I'm weird, who cares). In the centerfold "special buys" section, I fell in love. There was a tiny cordless driver. Who knew such a thing was even available! Their catalog text says that this kind of drill is "produced ... for the Japanese market, where it is commonly used as the primary household drill..." As you may know, I have hands the size of a little child, and this would be an ideal fit, being approximately half the size of my current electric drill.

I called Lee Valley as soon as I got up this morning. The drill was already sold out, "due to overwhelming response"... (and as it was a "special buy", it is not something they will be able to get again, and I just can't jaunt off to Japan to go tool shopping... )

Saturday, February 21, 2009

on the mend...

Friday I felt well enough that I wanted to get out of the house, I'd been wanting to go see Coraline in 3-D, so I splurged and took myself to a matinee. Since I almost never go out to see films, when I do, it is pretty special. I'd never seen a 3-D film before, and the effects were enjoyably impressive. I'm thinking I'll probably get the DVD when it is available, for while I was not transported by the actual tale, the technique and all the details kept me wanting to stop and look many a time. I'm pretty picky about my animation, and I definitely felt it was worth seeing, and on the short list of "want-to-own".
~ :♥: ~
Look at what I found in the front yard herb bed... some of these are going to the swap, and some are for gifts, or private side-swaps, and one is going into the store. I think they look quite tasty

Thursday, February 19, 2009

(first there is a cold, then there is no cold, then there is)

Having been feeling like more or less crap for several weeks now. I spent the evening at the NxNE free clinic, getting someone to look at my mouth, which had become unbearable and keeps me from sleeping. I miss having insurance, but I'm very grateful to all the great volunteers that staff the clinic on the two evenings a week it is open. Apparently I have an aphthous ulcer of the mouth, which is a fancy way to say canker sore, and aside from being hellishly painful, should go away in a week or so. No specific cause, and no particularly useful treatment.
"Occasionally, you may experience other signs or symptoms along with the lesions, such as:fever, listlessness and swollen lymph nodes."
Yup thats me, perzactily as descripted, I'd be peeved if I wasn't so listless...GrumpGrumpGrump

On the positive crafting front, I've finished the mushrooms, and am thinking about putting a few into the shop, and have a fun idea for the mobile swap as well. I've finally found some floss to make new springtime sprites, and have discovered a delightful resource: The Button Emporium & Ribbonry Just around the corner from the Main Library
downtown, this amazing shop is absolutely packed with supplies for textile embellishment. I sucumbed to some bits of tiny black cotton lace, and ribbon, and the smallest black ricrack I've ever seen; I have a project in mind for these, someday in the not too distant future, once the current work and swap projects are done.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In which there is a change in the mushrooms...

When I initially started working on this swap, my additional self-challenge was to use what I already had; the mushroom stems were made from pieces of an old wool scarf, with the cap overlay made from the bits of felted yarn fringe. When I ran out of fringe, I thought to myself "no problem, I'll go to the yarn store and get some matching yarn to finish the project..."

To find matching yarn proved to be astonishingly difficult, and after trying four local yarn stores, I found a thinner yarn that looked more or less okay. There are myriads of greyish-tan wool yarns out there, all too yellow, or too pink, or too dark, or... I am cursed with a picky eye for color, and the yarns that the store clerks thought looked the same were just not. The thinner yarn is not really amenable to being couched down, but with a little experimentation, I realised that I could do an irregular blanket stitch over the surface of the mushroom cap, and that would give a rather more stylised, but still effective, morel. (I'm thinking about making some for my Etsy shop)
~ :♥: ~
Several months ago, I took this online test for color differentiation, and found the results to be rather interesting.
~ :♥: ~
and here is a picture of the springtime that is on the way; a patch of snowdrops in my front yard


February cold

dog fur falls in clumps
like a molting caribou
spring will be here soon

I had intended to write more, but the dread rhinovirus has me in its grip. My head is full of gunge and all I want to do is sleep. But even as I am sleeping, the northern hemisphere is moving towards warmth. I am tired of winter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

wash the dishes, dry the dishes, turn the dishes over...

Today is going to be a day of domesticity; tomorrow is my monthly "tea party of crafty goodness" and Acorn Cottage has really become untidy in the last week or two. Actually, my motivation for having a Craft Tea Party is twofold, not only do I get to see whichever friends are free to come visit, but I am encouraged to get motivated to clean and tidy. Since one of my five jobs is being a charlady, my own dear little cottage is often rather untidy; I'd far rather be making things than do yet more cleaning house.
So... today
I shall bake some cakes and cakelets, and there will be much washing of dishes, and all the dusting and vacuuming that gets put off all week. And between all that I will be working on a sewing commission for one of my friends who will be coming to the tea party, so she can try it on.

Friday, February 13, 2009

the gift that always moves

Midday today, the post came while I was on my way out the door to run errands, pick up some groceries, and go to work... There was a big cardboard box with my name on it. Since I am not at all good at delayed gratification, I headed right back inside to discover that the creative and talented Jackie (Smoothpebble) had sent me this lovely handmade mobile, a wonderful assemblage of various shades of actual linen and denim. I can't decide whether to put this in the living room for everyone to enjoy, or to put it in the bedroom, in that empty corner that really needs some love. For a better picture of the mobile, you can see it here

Last year in the mobile swap, I had a great deal of fun making and sending off a horse mobile, but sadly, never had one show up here. And when I ran across another person who was abandoned in the mobile swap roulette, I made one for her too, a bird mobile (you might guess, I love making mobiles, they add so much liveliness to a room).

I take my small projects with me, and am often sewing during my daily riding on public transit, which leads to interesting conversations with fellow travelers, when it is not too crowded. An older gentleman asked me what I was going to do with the little fabric morels I was so busy making... I described this bit of odd cultural phenomenon, this sending of handcrafted artifacts back and forth as gifts to various corners of the country and the world to people we have most likely never met. He echoed the comments other friends have made, that it seemed to be a lot of effort to put into something, trusting that there would be some return. Truth be told, I hadn't thought about that. It is a pleasure to make things, for me that pleasure has been most constant and faithful all my life. And it is a tiny bit of "the world I want to live in", to send off mysterious packages intended only to delight the recipient. And while it is true that my livelihood also consists of making things, whether fabric or metal or glass, there is a particular sweetness in this other sort of transaction...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pickled Paperwhites

Almost every year, I remember to force* some fragrant paperwhite narcissus bulbs, so that in the short dark days after the winter holidays there is some indoor reminder that the year is turning towards springtime. And almost every year my flowers are at the top of tall, floppy, needing-to-be-staked-up plants. This year I decided to try something that I'd read about on some garden sites: mixing alcohol (vodka) into the water. I was worried that the alcohol smell would persist, but it quickly dissipated. It worked astonishingly well, my paperwhites are about half as tall as usual, but the flowers are the same large sweet scented delights as ever. I'd like to find some local source for the "Soleil D'Or" narcissus, they look like miniature daffodils.


*"forcing" bulbs means to encourage them to bloom earlier than usual.

25 random things about me

1. My given name was supposed to be Leslie Alison (but it isn't). I really dislike my birth name, and kept trying to "alter" it while I was growing up. I took Alison for my name when I moved to the Northwest in 1985.

2. I dearly love my big Akita dog Smokey, but when she was a puppy, I was a little bit afraid of her. I'd not much experience as a dog momma, and she was so big! I think I figured it out though.

3. I love to dance.

4. I spent decades being horribly shy, and terribly depressed. I guess I outgrew it; first the shyness went away, and then the depression.

5. My goal is to live a very interesting life that makes sense to me, and get to the end of it with lots of memories and not too many "gee I wish I had's"

6. I learned to torch solder when I was about 14, in a jewelry workshop at the DeCordova Museum School in Lincoln MA. Give the girl a flame and she never looked back...

7. We moved a lot when I was a child, I went to five different elementary schools, on two coasts.

8. Adrenaline is my least favorite drug.

9. I learned to read before I ever went to school, consequently I learned that school was where you went to learn things to be bored. And I have a terrible print addiction.

10. I spent almost ten years working graveyard shift Main Gate Security at the Oregon Country Fair

11. When I was seventeen sometime in the winter of '72/73, I hitchhiked from my college in upstate New York to visit friends in Boston for the weekend. The man that picked me up gave me a ride pretty much all the way there, and let me off at the end saying "you take care now, and see...Federal pigs aren't all bad..." I don't remember our several hour conversation, but that was the only time I've been in a car with a Federal Marshal.

12. My dream for years was to have a home. I never thought it would come true.

13. I have little square hands the size of a child's hands.

14. I spent a whole winter living on the street in Boston (well technically in the back of a step-van) Never listen to the silver-tongued devil, he'll whisper sweet nothings, and they are all lies.

15. I have the brain of a designer. This makes me very happy, except when it makes me very frustrated.

16. I'd really like to learn woodworking

17. At a potluck, Reverend Chumleigh once told me I make the best pecan pie West of the Mississippi.

18. Waterfalls make me so happy I just have to stamp my feet

19. I spent the winter of 1992 living in Northern Idaho, in a house with no electricity or water, just one ridge over from Ruby Ridge. I could hear the helicopters. What was I doing there? (see #14, different man, same stupid girl)

20. Learning to read and play music was one of the hardest things I've done. I could feel it changing the inside of my brain. I wish that my hands were in good enough shape to have continued that, it was some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on. If I ever get my left hand repaired, I'd like to start again.

21. When I was eight, I got horseback riding lessons as a birthday gift. I was so excited that I shrieked with glee when I was finally on horseback. The horse ran away and jumped the fence, and I fell off. My mom was so traumatized seeing me fly through the air that there were no more lessons, and I got a toy microscope instead. I learned to ride as an adult, and for several years went riding almost every week. The fun was worth how scarey it was.

22. As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a dog.

23. Sewing is the thing that I feel like I do best. It is the place where my designer brain, and my engineer brain, and my artistic brain all get to play, and the place where my skillset is there to serve my ideas. Maybe that is 'cos I learned to sew when I was about five.

24. I was gifted to see a cougar, going down our driveway in Idaho. I thought it was the neighbors yellow lab, until it moved, and I realised why they are called mountain lions. It ran away like a piece of golden water running downhill.

25. When it comes to divvying my tokens up between happiness, fame, power, or wealth, I'll put them all on happiness...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fabric fungus...

As I enjoy handicraft, I find that crafty swaps are hard to resist. The time available is a constraint, of course, but this Handmade Mushroom Swap, hosted by the creative and talented knitsonya, promised both a fun challenge and a delightful result. Who would not like to add a few tiny artist-made mushrooms to decorate their cottage...
I decided to use only materials that I already had, and was inspired by a creamy off-white felted scarf and some scraps of Harris Tweed from a long ago jacket my father wore, to try something different than the usual "cute mushroom with spots". Somehow the materials were saying "make us into a morel". So I did...
This is my second attempt, and at 3 1/2" the mushrooms are a little bigger than I'd hoped, but still well within the swap guidelines. I used some fender washers for the weighted base to keep such top-heavy 'shrooms stable, covered with some additional felted wool, this time from a dark green motheaten lambswool vest recently sent to me for just such crafty purposes by my Mom, (thanks Mom! you are getting one of these for your curio cabinet) ...for more mushrooms swapping goodness,
check out the flicker group

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

many little bits + knitting query

When my confidence sags, the recovery is slow. I seem to have finally moved a bit beyond my grand funk into progress of a sort. One of the two Pelican settings is done, and the other is started, to be completed really soon, (just not tonight)
~ :: ~
This last Saturday was Friends of Trees tree-planting day. I was able to acquire a dwarf Bartlett pear tree for my backyard. It will require some pretty strong pruning, since while the tree is taller than I am, the root ball is about 3 gallon size, and the top has been pruned for nursery convenience rather than for suitable shape for fruitful (and reachable) bearing. Even I know that it shouldn't have three main leaders all clustered together.
~ :: ~
Thanks to the generosity of , who kindly gifted me with a #11 circular needle, I've been able to work on my knitting project, the mini-poncho; I pretty much only knit while I'm riding the bus. So far I have completed the collar, the back, and have started on the front, and it has been progressing nicely, and today I'm horrified to realise that I left out an entire border row when knitting the back. I wondered why my piece didn't really look like the picture, but figured it would look better when all sewn together and blocked. (it was doing that stockinette stitch curl up thing) Well...when working on the front border, there is an additional row of purl stitches above the eyelet row, which stabilises the whole border. Damn! That is a big enough mistake that I cannot simply ignore it. SO, What To Do? I don't really want to rip out the whole back and start over. I'm wondering whether it would be easier to knit another border piece and graft it on, or to pick up stitches above the eyelet row and then knit down from there, reversing the direction... either way I'd need to only unravel about six or seven rows. Knitting Hivemind ~ advice, suggestions and/or commiseration welcomed
~ :: ~
Between working on the Pelican setting, I needlefelted a giftie for my nephew Ben. According to my mom, he is really into Pokemon, so I made this (actual size about 2" tall):


I hope he likes it.
~ :: ~
Sunday was fun, I spent a big chunk of the day with Rois and Chance and their younger son Sol. We went to the grand opening of the Urban Farm Store and spent quite a bit of time talking with the owners. It turns out that I'd been reading their posts on the PDX chickens Yahoo group site; and they are the folks who have been working to bring in the locally sourced and milled chicken food. We got a 50# bag to split and try it out; the organic feed was backordered since the snow had caused some problems, but the high protein alfalfa blend looked and smelled great. Smokey kept trying to eat the little pellets that fell to the ground while we were splitting the bag!

We were hoping to get to the Tool store out near 82nd, but they were closed Sundays... ended up getting some lunch instead. I'd never had "bahn mi" (sp?) the Vietnamese sandwiches before, a tasty combination of textures and flavors. At Goodwill, I found the Time-Life book of wiring, so I should be able to figure out how to do the other two (hopefully relatively minor) repairs in the bathroom. The diagrams in those books are a good match for the way my brain works. And Chance said that he'd figured out how the vent fan should be wired...
~ :: ~
Tea party heads up for two weeks from now, February 15th