Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I keep cogitating about a garden plan for the side yard...Of course, there is no money right now for any of it, but if I have a good plan, then it can move forward when time, energy, and finances allow

a rough sketch of landscape ideas
The area is not so shady that things that like moist shade will be happy (right now it gets morning shade and afternoon sun), the ground does drain pretty well, as does most of the yard, thankfully. Today while waiting for the bus home, I came up with this "plan", with room for rainbarrels, two blueberry bushes, two black elderberries, and room for other plants, possibly something else edible in the central section. There would be a small bench at the end of the garden bed (rather than across from the window) and some kind of garden-art/memorial. The area next to the house would be mulched but not planted right next to the side of the house.

So far I have been trying to come up with possibilities for flowering plants... I'm thinking about what will make nice cut flowers for in the house, that will bloom at different times of the year. So far I have thought of having some white japanese anemone for fall bloom - I love them, and once there is some shade, they will do okay if I water them. Maybe some white campion...I was thinking about planting small bulbs for early spring - grape hyacinth, wood hyacinth, and snowdrops, maybe some of the pheasant-eye narcissus. Can you see, I am getting a kind of mostly white (with some blue) color scheme going here? I'll probably keep some of the lambs ears around as well. I am not sure about easy-to-grow cut flowers for between spring and autumn?. My ideal would be to have two different things for each season, not sure how realistic that is given the small space.
~ : ♥ : ~
Lookit what I ran across while wandering around on Ravelry... is this not the most awesome Aran motif?!?
- Oak Leaf and Acorn center panel -

(hard-to-see scan of black and white xerox)
Since I don't have back issues of knitting magazines lying around the house, I made use of the periodical room at the downtown library to copy off the pattern. I'm wondering about adapting the motif to use around the crown of the hat, as I'm not sure about committing to an Aran sweater right now... If you are on Ravelry, look here for better pictures, and a similar pattern, as well as a clever vest using these motifs
~ : ♥ : ~
Back to the workroom now, I've spent enough time online for now...

Monday, September 28, 2009

worn to a ravelling...

I walk a lot, I guess. I just finished these socks not so very long ago. I think I've worn them maybe four times. If I don't darn in some reinforcement, I will have walked holes through the heels. Next pair of socks gets some kind of synthetic additive to the heels at least, not so much the back, where the slipstitch pads the wear, but the little spot under the edge of the heel. Or else maybe I need to start knitting the EZ Moccasin socks? Hmmm, might be a thing to try with the ball of blue patterned sock yarn that I was gifted with this weekend

HP is definitely moulting - there is now red hen fluff in the chicken yard, and she is missing most of her tail feathers.

Sunday Teaparty was well-attended, with plenty of stitching and string-wrangling. I have a small new new scavenged set of shelves for the sewing/guest room, thanks to the clever salvage skills of my friends Bob and Sam. Now I have a tidy place to store guest blankets and pillows, and some additional textile storage as well...

...back to work, I hear the soldering bench calling my name

Saturday, September 26, 2009

sticks and string...

Sticks and string, sticks and string, can't stop playing with sticks and string... I seem to get mildly obsessed with "hobbies", (earlier this year it was all about Coriander), and lately I have been spending way too much of my on-the-bus time knitting. The good is that I am almost done with making my family holiday gifts! (and it is only September). This is good for two reasons: I can make some things for gifties for other folks, and I can think about maybe making some things to try and sell this fall and winter. I'm starting to think about my calendar for next year, probably going to do another AlphaSketch, with most of the rest of the alphabet. Not sure if any of my fellow crafty friends are interested in having a Holiday Marketplace this year; I'd be willing to host one here at Acorn Cottage...
~ : ♥ : ~
HennyPenny is not laying eggs. I think she is maybe going into moult, which would be appropriate for this time of year. Still, I hate buying store eggs, they have no taste. Next year, when the Silly Sisters come into lay, I will have an ABUNDANCE of eggs!
~ : ♥ : ~
Teaparty tomorrow, so I'd best get off the computer and do a dab of housecleaning...


Since I started posting my wishes online, about half of them have been granted... now mind you, I am not extravagant in my wishing, not like the child that wished for the pony there was no room for in the backyard, or the young adult who wished for a sweetheart that only time and personal growth might allow(I'm still waiting on that one). Last night, while discussing house design with Nichole, I mentioned that I should probably put the book "A Pattern Language" on my wishlist. She gave me her extra copy to keep, and also The Timeless Way of Building, which is one of the companion volumes. From the time I first read them years ago, these books changed the way I look at the human-made world, and I am completely delighted to have them here at Acorn Cottage for my reference library.
~ : ♥ : ~
Tonight I went to the Portland Art Museum after work. I've lived here for three years and this was my first visit. In every other city I have lived, the art museum had a time that admission was either free, or by donation. But until very recently, that was not the case here. I'm not sure where I read that the policy had changed, but every fourth Friday, from 5 to 8 PM, there is no charge for admission. Apparently this information is not widely known, since it was remarkably uncrowded... A pleasant way to start the busy weekend, next time I will bring a sketchbook.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

calendar girl

I was a bit startled when I noticed the 2010 calendars appearing in the shops in August. I don't usually start thinking about the year-calendar until I am working on winter holiday gifts, which rarely happens this early in the year.

Nonetheless, when I saw the new Nikki McClure calendar on the shelf at New Seasons, I had to buy it. Every page is a keeper, and I plan on framing the cover image for my sewing space. I first saw her work at the Olympia Food Co-op, and in the local galleries when I lived in Olympia, and I enjoyed listening to her speak about her work at Powells earlier this year. If you aren't familiar with her work, this short video is a good introduction

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

progress report

I have been getting some of the settings done, and have continued working on the heraldic enamel cloisonne due soon... Anyone out there interested in the Painted Enameling workshop on October 9th-11th? (I would also be interested in trading workshop time for yardwork time, the backyard and garden here at Acorn Cottage could really use some extra help)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

brought to you by the letter "S"

Spotted hens, Soldering in the Studio and a teaparty on Sunday...

I've been waiting for inspiration to strike me, and finally the new hens have names : Speckledy, Sparkly, and Spot. I've not spent enough time watching them to be able to tell them apart yet, as they are remarkably similar in appearance - not surprising, as they are sisters. As you can see here, HP has accepted them as part of the flock, and they all crowd into the nest box to sleep at night (I know, I've looked in there when closing up the henhouse, and no one is in the main area, they are all crammed into the space that is about the size on a milk crate!) Hopefully soon there will be progress on the new hen home.
~ : ♥ : ~
Today's task is soldering, I hope to have some new images for you tomorrow, of completed settings to go along with the completed enamels. No shilly-shallying today, and no more knitting till I've completed heaps of studio work. I think my wrists are up for the task, finally.

My goal, besides having all the extant UFO studio projects completed and on their way to their new homes, is to sort through the myriad boxes of "random equipment and materials", arrange them into usable categories, and find them homes in the studio space. Before Acorn Cottage, I never had the space to do this, so I never developed the habit. And not being a Born Organised person, it doesn't come naturally, I'd rather do almost anything else. There actually is enough space here to have both the textile area and the metal/enamel area separate, and there is enough shelving and storage boxes to organise into. I'm attempting to hold in mind the delightful image of knowing where all the stuff is... so that when I get an inspiring idea, I can just go ahead and make it, rather than what happens now, where I start looking for a particular tool or material, and get distracted by what I come across, or bogged down in multiple boxes of random objects.
~ : ♥ : ~
I'll be having a Teaparty on Sunday September 27 here at Acorn Cottage. Usual time: noon to five - bring yourself, a project if you want, and a bit of snack to share. I though that an interesting theme would be "Harvest Home", since there is so much coming ripe right now both in the garden, and at the farmers markets, and since (here and there) leaves are starting to turn colors and fall from the trees.

Though the daytime is still quite warm, the nights are becoming chilly, and my thoughts are turning to preparing for the cold weather that is on the way. Baking and canning are starting to sound appealing, and I've pulled out some corduroy and lightweight wool to make some wintertime jumpers. Last week I made a plum crisp for a potluck, using plums that I picked from the feral tree; the wind and rain earlier drove most of the remaining plums into the undergrowth, but I was able to gather just a few more (Thank you Brenna for the loan of a fruit picking tool). Those plums are in the freezer and will eventually turn into savory plum sauce for wintertime stirfry.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

tubular wool

It is cooling off in the evenings, we have had some rain, a gentle reminder that winter is coming. After a brief flirtation with shawl-ettes, I have been knitting cowl-ish objects...

The sev[en]circle scarf is an intriguing construct, seven knitted rings attached all on one side, worn as a kind of ringscarf-cowl-necklace. It's a really quick and easy knit, and I think it looks a bit quirky, while still adding desirable warmth. I had some lovely grey-blue alpaca
stashed from some long ago yard sale, and this was the result:
I liked it so well, that another one was quickly finished, and will be sent off to the intended recipient soon.
(here, folded to show the color progression)

Various shades of raspberry pink with a garnish of deeper reds and an almost chocolate brown, it looks almost good enough to eat. I had to go shopping for this one, (since the desired color range was so far away from my happy colors, which tend more towards indigo-dark.) Shopping for yarn is a dangerous, if delightful pastime, and I try my best to keep a firm grip on my common sense and my pocketbook.

My friend Beth introduced me to Twisted, which, while not in my neighborhood, is the most congenial of local yarn stores I have been in. When I was there last, the clerk asked if I formerly lived in Olympia, since I "looked familiar"... my standard response is "yes, and I was a co-op volunteer for over twenty years"... Then I recognised her as well: Star, one of the co-op staff from shortly before I left to move here to Acorn Cottage. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a small town even still, even here, in the midst of the city.

While seeking appropriately pink yarn, I ran across a pattern for an entrelac knit cowl, and there was a sample all knit up, in a soft multicolor marled yarn "Taos" (marled is when there are two colors plied together, like a barbershop pole or a candy cane) I had always been intrigued by entrelac knitting, but it looked intimidating… How wrong I was, it is surprisingly easy and quick, though the knitting-up looks odd on the needles. The pattern directions are so absolutely clear that I am having no difficulty whatever, and the suggested yarn is so soft, and knits up really quickly. I will keep warm (in my drafty house) this winter…

Friday, September 18, 2009

clarity returns

I am still mending from my fall, and am eager to complete old projects and to get started on new ones. This will be easier now that I had my glasses repaired; decided that to try and DIY a repair with my face only inches away from the torch-flame was not a wise idea. Found my way to the part of SE where the repair shop was. Since I couldn't read the street signs, it is fortunate that the bus drivers are familiar with folks not seeing well, and gave me a heads up for the location. I still intend to get an eye exam once I find the time and money, and will then be able to have at least one backup pair... going around for most of two days in soft-focus was interesting.

On the physical side, it was pretty. I could spend quite a bit of time making artwork based on how the world looks to my natural uncorrected vision - much is simplified, in a way that lends itself to graphical imagery. The very most delightful is the way highway and roads and cars and lights look at night. I am wanting to play around with those images, which I had forgotten about, the way things looked when I was young... The contrast, returning to my "corrected" vision after two days, was a bit disorienting. When constantly wearing glasses, their edges and distortions in the visual field gradually become "invisible", but I found them to be quite jumpy, especially the line between the far and close vision. I expect that by tomorrow, my brain will have adapted back.

I am feeling a bit like this is a subtle wake-up call to see more clearly, and to remain aware of my perceiving. Which things in my life am I not seeing well, or forgetting to see?
~ : ♥ : ~
Had another visit with my pal Valeria, as she was back in town for overnight. Took her along to the weekly potluck on Thursday evening, navigating out to the West Hills (without my being able to see well) was a bit of a challenge. The theme was end of summer harvest, I made a squash casserole seasoned with sage, and a mixed fruit crisp. The squash and herbs were from my garden, the fruit I'd gathered (and one apple from the backyard tree!).
~ : ♥ : ~
On Monday afternoon, while I was walking towards where I take the bus home from St Johns, I saw my friend Brenna. We ended up talking for quite a while, and she very kindly offered to lend me her fruit gathering tool, so I can snag some of the feral plums that are still on the tree in the corner between my yard and the neighbors yard. Since they (my neighbors) never do anything with the fruit, and I adore prune plums, I am hoping to get in some good picking this weekend. I'd hoped to gather some of the blackberries from the alleyway, but the bushes were completely picked over by the college girls that live down the street; I awoke one morning to their primate fruit-picking chatter, and when I looked later that day, there were no berries left. Brenna also has an electric brush-chipper, and I just may be able to do something about turning the various bits of dead shrubbery into mulch. That would make me very happy.
~ : ♥ : ~
It is going to be a busy weekend, I'd best think about going to sleep soon...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishful Wednesday - new glasses

AAAAhhh!.... the world is now fuzzy... Sorry about all the trauma/drama. I had all this reasonably fun and interesting stuff to write about, sat down at the computer and - Wham! My glasses frames just broke! Snapped right in half. I'll bet they were stressed from my falling last week and hitting my face on the sidewalk. (They broke for the first time several months ago, while Bill was here, and he was able to repair them. I'm not sure that I have the skill to do the same, will make the attempt of course, but without being able to see clearly.)

I don't have a current prescription, or a spare pair of bifocals. My spare pair of glasses is only for closeup vision (being the prescription for the bottom half of my bifocals) Now mind you, I'm not blind. Just everything is now totally soft-focus. My field of clear vision is under five inches uncorrected, and about a foot with the backup "computer" glasses.

If I could find a cooperative and not wildly expensive eye exam, that would give me not only a prescription but also the "pupil distance" I could order new glasses online at an affordable price. But pretty much any commercial place won't give you that piece of information, because they want to sell you glasses for triple digits their markup rather than 20 to 50 dollars which is what the online outfits charge. Sigh. I know I won't be able to find glasses like the ones I currently have; the last time they broke I'd looked both online and asked at many many different shops here in Portland, and no one knows what I am asking about.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday musings

Still pretty sore from falling, but slowly recovering. Grateful nothing is broken. Will try soldering tomorrow, if my wrists will allow. I really want to finish up all the enamels that are waiting to be set. Sore shoulders and wrists mean that doing anything around the house hurts. At least the cut places inside my mouth are mostly healed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No insurance...

No work on the new chicken home will happen today. I don't know what I did to my wrists, but they are weak and hurting, particularly on the ulnar side. I hope nothing is broken. It's not particularly painful to touch, but simple light tasks, like picking up a tea mug, or making the bed, HURT. I may be able to do enameling work, since the pain is less on the right side. Not sure about soldering...

The thing about being a fast walker is when I fall, I fall hard.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ashes ashes

all fall down - I was walking home from the grocery store when I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and skidded face down onto the concrete. Split open my palm, and the insides of my lips (youch!), thankfully my nose and teeth are still intact. Wrists and footbones are really hurting. It was the same dang place where I fell before, a dark middle of the block with a treeroot-humped sidewalk. I whimpered all the way home, then washed the grit out of my hand. Arnica will help, I hope... the real question is Why am I so off-balance lately?
~ : ♥ : ~
Today seemed to be a day of useless journeys. I took the Orca torch over to the folks at Amerigas, to see if they could figure out why it is filling with grease. They were as baffled as I, though they mostly work with larger equipment; they tried the torch on one of their tanks and it did the same thing, with the tip quickly filling with drippy oily goo. This tells me that it is most probably not my tank of propane, but something gone wrong with the torch assembly somehow. (sigh) I will call Otto Frei tomorrow...
~ : ♥ : ~
I needed to get some hardware, and some bits of wood for the hen house project. Somehow, that kind of errand ends up taking far more time than initially imagined, since I don't have a clear plan for the project. Improvisational woodwork seems to be what I can manage. Do those with more wood skills work things out by guess and by golly as well, I wonder? I figured that starting with a structure that organised a flat surface and some uprights would help, and then I can somehow add in all the complicated bits.

Fortunately, the hens were willing to go into the current henhouse together tonight, for the first time HP didn't chase the youngsters away. This morning, I had found them all crammed into the nest box, and they are spending time somewhat closer together in the yard, they will become a flock in time. I decided based on their size, that the henhouse needs to be long enough for all of them to roost next to one another, but small enough that they will stay warm during the winter, and I fully intend that the nestbox will be lower than the roosting area, so that it will no longer be a bedroom.

Ikea GORM shelving will become a chicken coop

Monday, September 7, 2009

busy weekend

On Saturday, the all-day marathon enameling demo at Art in the Pearl was surprisingly energising; despite setting up in the pouring rain, there were hardy folks showing up in the morning to see the art and talk with the artists and crafters. As the day went on, the sky cleared somewhat, and the crowds thickened. I talked and talked and talked, and in between, I was able to make a good start on my next commissioned pieces, a pair of heraldic enamels, which served as great examples of both a simple design and the delicate work needed to transform a small drawing into a finished enamel. More than one person commented on my enthusiasm and clear explanations, and twenty-six fliers for my autumn workshops went home with possible students. After ten hours of talking to the public, I stopped on the way home for some dinner ingredients, a bit of nourishing chicken to roast and green salad to get my strength back.

I had finished unloading all the boxes and bags of gear back into the workroom, the aroma of roasting chicken filled the air, and there at the door was my dear friend Valeria. I knew there was a reason that I had bought two pieces of chicken at the store. The only thing better than a restorative home cooked dinner, is a dinner shared with an old friend...
~ : ♥ : ~
On Sunday, after leaving her daughter at Kumoricon, we went back to Art in the Pearl, (I wanted a chance to look through this years artist and crafters), it is rare for me to have a chance to go to a street fair with an artist friend. I found that I was noticing things in company that I might have passed by alone, and that was intriguing...oooh you like this, well there must be something special here, and often, there was.

I might not have taken a second look at Joe DeCamillis mixed media sculptural paintings in settings made from old books and other ephemera, but V. was fascinated, and on closer examination so was I, his work was both technically superb and thoughtful.

I had seen Amanda Blake's oil paintings online, but the digital images just do not do justice work so subtle and personable, They feel like portraits of people I once knew, somewhen, perhaps in dreamland...

For some reason, I spend almost as much time looking at how various artisans display their works, as I do looking at the work itself. Somehow, when the display reflects the handwork and style of the artist, the whole environment of their booth comes alive. I was initially drawn to a booth where the display pedestals were open platforms on loooong skinny pipe legs, counterweighted with large pierced stones, and when I looked at the jewelry I was hopelessly enraptured: combinations of carved stone, blown glass, small cast figures and fabricated metalwork. There was a carved basalt bangle with a small bird standing on it, several necklaces with an assemblage of unique artifacts held in relation with tiny clamped cables and forged silver, and earrings and rings combining colored pebbles with forged silver. The works that so caught my eye are not on their website, but the smaller pieces are...

Usually when I think of decorated egg art, I think of pysanky. J Brooke Patterson makes art with and within eggshells that is unlike anything I have seen before. Some are abstract sculptures and others are whimsical dioramas, all are beautiful.

One more thing I enjoyed was a chance to spend a bit of time talking with another enamel artist. Linda Lundell, from Port Townsend, who does very exquisite work in cloisonne.
~ : ♥ : ~

The ongoing chicken saga...in the stormy weather Saturday, the plastic and tubular metal sunshade blew down and one of the legs buckled. This meant that the young hens had no shelter. I tried putting all of them into the small chicken yard this evening, hoping that perhaps they could all nicely go into the chicken house, but the silly young things didn't want to. One flew over the fence back into the yard and was quite perturbed to not have a place to roost. I managed to catch her, and as I was stuffing her into the henhouse, another young hen flapped up to the top of the chainlink fence along the alley...whoops, that is a big bad idea. It must have looked like a stupid home video for a bit there, with me grabbing increasingly flighty hens that didn't want to be caught or to go into the scary henhouse, but eventually they were settled there, and I put HP into the chicken cage, since I can't be sure she will behave herself at night. The very next up project is a henhouse with a big enough space for all of them to roost, I'm thinking that a New House will work better than one that is specifically HP's "territory". I don't have a specific plan or all the needed materials, that has been holding me back, but I'm just going to forge ahead and start constructing some kind of framework, and figure it out as I go...

Monday hen update - I've started "training" the young hens that the chook chook chook sound means that they should come over, or at least not run away. I stand by the fence and toss chunks of bread out for them, being sure to toss plenty at HP so she will be distracted and allow the young'ns to eat some too. Eventually they will learn that tasty snacks come from the big boss chicken (me). Tonight I again put HP into the cage, and gradually the young hens found their way into the henhouse, since she wasn't chasing them away... once it got full dark, I decided to put HP into the henhouse too, since they will all be sleepy and dozy. I will let them out early and hopefully there will not be too much drama. They are hanging out just a bit closer to one another during the day; I have read online that Rhode Island Reds tend to be quite bossy/aggressive, and she is definitely at the top of the pecking order. Hopefully they will work it all out and turn into a "flock" before winter cold sets in later this year. I started fooling around with the Ikea parts, my initial plan for a long skinny henhouse is probably not really stable, I had a hard time keeping the pieces upright. Tomorrow I will spend some more time re-combining the parts, I have another idea for how to add an external nest box that might work.

Friday, September 4, 2009

autumn Enameling

I just finished the flyer for my enameling workshops:

Cloisonne Enameling weekend workshops will be on September 18-20, and November 20-22; Painted Enameling on October 9-11. In addition, I will also be hosting Open Studio on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 for continuing students, so if you have taken one of my workshops or Ithra classes you will be able to continue further projects.

The workshops will be $175, and the Open Studio will be $30/session with a 4 session punch card for $100.

I'm trying to keep the prices reasonable, and I'm open to barter for other skilled services that I am in need of (like electrical, gardening, or carpentry/woodworking)

Thursday, September 3, 2009


  • Changed and cleaned the torch head again
  • Finished the setting for Randals medallion.
  • Called the local propane dealer to discuss continuing problems with torch.
  • Made an appointment to bring in the torch on Tuesday next.
  • Called to put my name in the lottery to apply for OHP,
    if they open the lottery next year
  • Continued working on ongoing studio projects that need completed.
  • Thinking about chicken space remodeling.
  • Decided on dates for autumn enamel workshops: Sept 18 - 20, Oct 9 - 12, Nov 20 - 22
  • Picked Saturdays for teaparties: Sept 26, Oct 31, Nov 28 and Dec 26

Called and spoke with the coordinator for Art in the Pearl demo about transport issues. The plan was for Bill and I to share the space all day for metalwork and enameling demos. But he's injured and unable to drive here from Olympia; I have no easy transport to get my gear there on Saturday.

Tomorrow is all about prep for all day enameling demo...
  • Write up new class flyer and have printed.
  • Gather sample enamels and display materials
  • Organise supplies for sample enameling
  • Prepare cooler with lunch, extra water bottles

and cleaning and tidying the house,
as there are two guests coming from Eugene for the weekend.

Am going to bed early, I'm strangely exhausted.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday tidbits: camping, and clamping

Up the McKenzie River east of Eugene, where the woods are deep and shady, the nearby river rapids a constant song, friends and I went camping last weekend. This yearly get-together was a welcome break for me, and falling asleep to the glow of firelight on my tent walls and the sounds of late night storytelling was incredibly peaceful; I slept deeply and free from my recurrent nightmares. Friday morning we had a good long soak in Cougar Hot Springs, and later that day and evening the rest of the folks arrived. I started and finished a new knitting project, the sev[en]circle scarf*, which was promptly dubbed the "neck-t-puss" for its tentacle-like form; I allowed myself to be lazy, hanging about camp knitting and chatting, and catching up on what my faraway friends have been doing. It is worth all the crazy busy that this week requires to have taken the time to recharge...
the river, only yards away from where we were camped

our encampment: under the dining fly, friends relax around the fire circle

my Norse tent
~ : ♥ : ~
Today I made life a bit easier for myself. For decades I have been doing metal-working, and whenever I use a jewelers saw, I hold the metal against the bench pin with my other hand. The human hand is not meant to be a clamp. Especially my own left hand, the unreconstructed one. I happened to be looking over at the pantry, which is in one corner of the big workroom, opposite the washer and dryer, and saw a big binder clip on the shelf, which I often use to close bags of dry foodstuffs. Lightbulb moment... it took no time at all to clip the piece of sheet brass to the bench pin, I can easily loosen and move the metal as needed for sawing, and my hand is very grateful for the relief.
~ : ♥ : ~

* for those signed in to Ravelry, you can find the sev[en]circle pattern here