Monday, September 29, 2014

Roman buttons, an experiment


...in which our plucky heroine is having fun assisting/collaborating with Sharon Rose, who is doing research on what was used to fasten the upper edges of Roman tunica; my task is creating various options that she can then try in various iterations as experimental archaeology.

Eight small discs sawed from brass sheet, then the edges filed smooth and slightly rounded.

After annealing the brass discs, the next step is to dome them using a dapping block

To turn the domed circles into buttons, brass wire was bent to a shape that would be stable while being soldered in place on the concave underside, and still allow the buttons to be stitched in place

Eight finished lovely shiny buttons, ready to become a decorative addition to a Roman womans garb, to fasten together the upper edges of the tunica; I was looking at some of the sculptures and think that this size is a pretty good match as far as diameter goes

...and the reverse side, cleaned but not polished. I use large pipe cleaners to store and transport shank buttons, it keeps them tidy and together as a set

Thursday, September 25, 2014

may we have your signature please...


Though our plucky heroine is not very fond of life in boxes, structure does help, at times, to show the how of a plan... I thought it might be educational fun to try and fit my very non-standard wardrobe into the "boxes" of The Vivienne Files "Core of Four" wardrobe plan*. Now I don't do traditional separates in my wardrobe; my own signature "look" could be described as somewhere between Japanese and Scandinavian-style lagenlook in a specific limited palette of colors. My current style could be described as "urban fairytale", and is feminine but not at all frilly or fluffy (think more like Tasha Tudor and not Gothic Lolita).  My most typical clothing is a workaday pinafore dress, worn with an simple underdress with three-quarter sleeves, both with flared skirts and large pockets, often with various forms of subtle textile embellishment, on my head either a wide brim hat or a head-kerchief, and sturdy footgear. In colder weather I add layers, in summer I either wear just the dress, or switch to my hot weather popover loose dresses.

wardrobe planning, ala Vivienne...
CORE OF FOUR - BLACK
black lovechild pinafore
black vertical pique pinafore
black polkadot dress
black dress w Jen buttons ?
CORE OF FOUR - BLUE
denim pinafore
dark indigo denim pinafore
blue on blue stripe linen dress
bluegrey ikat dress
EXPANSION FOUR -
black/blue pinstripe dress
black/grey/blue stripe dress
black/white ikat dress
black/white seersucker dress
MILEAGE FOUR -
multi-brown japanese dog dress
brown dress ?
grey dress ?
grey dress ?

INTEGRATION aka accessories, and ideas about small improvements...
Fox Paws handknit scarf is waiting on the ordered yarn arriving, have started a small sample to get some sense of the scale of the pattern and the new techniques. I must find my Noro shawlette!! that one is my most favorite of all, and the color is discontinued; fingers crossed that it will show up as decluttering continues. My everday purse/haversack is currently a black/grey plaid Dakine daypack, which now has a broken main zipper, and needs replaced anyway with a somewhat smaller and better fitting EDC bag. I am good on everyday shoes, have black and dark grey Keen oxfords as well as black wintertime boots. Not going to put a lot of attention on new jewelery, as most of what I have works really well. I would like to possibly set the acorn sample enamel as a brooch, as the colors work superbly with my current plan.

Have been doing a bit more each day to make progress on my wardrobe refurbishment project, with cutting out sewing kits of new dresses, thinking quite a bit about how much is enough and how often and many to make each year to replace the clothing too worn to repair. Given my eightfold plan, sewing about a garment a month, maybe slightly more than that, would be enough to keep the clothing in good condition, once there are eight in each of the major categories. Currently that is not the case, but this will be remedied over the next months... Two friends have come up with a cunning plan to act as my sewing assistants, an offer that I find both intriguing and astonishing; I shall have to think of some particularly nice way of thanking them!

If each year I sewed three new dresses, three tops, two pinafores, and an assortment of other garments as needed, that would be enough to keep my closet full and in good repair. I wear my clothing until it is too worn to mend, and would find a closet with eight pinafores, eight dresses, eight popovers, eight blouses and the outerwear needed (wool coat, raincoat, and a scattering of cardigan sweaters) combined with a dresser holding eight each of long sleeve tops and tees (and unders and socks) to be most lavish and delightful. I may add in a few more sleeveless "slip-dresses" to add another layer in the coldest weather (the one I have gets worn very often in the darkest months), and possibly a pair or two of loose pants for potential occasions where dresses are not ideal (I am remembering a particular beach trip). I have a few more dressy clothes for the very rare occasions those are needed, and a pair of silver Birkenstock sandals to go with...

* this post from The Vivienne Files not only is an example of her fun "start with art" option for selecting wardrobe colors, but also one where she goes into a bit of detail about how the "core of four" concept is intended to work. My own wardrobe is structured differently, but I enjoy her blog very much anyway...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

eutectics


in which our plucky heroine digresses back to metal and glass for a moment...

There was some online discussion this week about using sterling instead of fine silver, for enameling. In both my own work and when teaching, I feel this is counter-productive, as the cost difference is minimal, compared to the effort needed to deal with the copper content in the sterling. What I have read is that you need to treat sterling in the same way you would treat copper, because the surface oxidises (turns dark) in the same way that copper does. If you depletion-gild the sterling then the outer surface would react more like fine silver. Using fine silver means that oxidation is not a problem because it (fire scale) doesn't happen on the surface. Fine silver and copper interact differently to different enamels, so sterling would have its own characteristic ways of reacting which you would have to learn. Sterling has a somewhat lower melting point than either pure silver or pure copper. In addition, if doing cloisonne, you would need to be careful about the fine silver wires touching the sterling surface. It is just so much simpler to use fine silver from the beginning, to avoid the hassles.

This is a piece I made back when I was beginning to learn enameling; we were taught to use copper as the base substrate. I took out of the kiln *just* as the eutectic action was in the middle of dissolving the wires... I had almost finished the enamel when this happened. I was able to salvage the work by creating a different pendant design, that worked with the changed enamel motif.

It was meant to say "enough is as good as a feast" and believe me bending those tiny little letters was not easy! The enamel is about 1 1/4 " across at the bottom edge. This is why I mostly never use copper as a substrate when doing cloisonne, the very slight added expense precludes a lot of heartbreak!
:::

melting point copper: 1,981°F (1083°C)
melting point fine silver: 1,763°F (961.8°C)
melting point sterling silver: 1,640°F (893°C)
melting point eutectic formation: 1,450°F (788°C)
:::

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday miscellany


in which our plucky heroine is very very naughty...


I ordered these yarns from KnitPicks; they will become Fox Paws, a way to bribe myself to do less desirable activities, like chores and the ongoing decluttering, with the promise of treats...

In addition, there has been much thinking about wardrobe planning, about how much is enough, and about making clothing as replacement pieces for the garments that wear out. (will admit that 'tis difficult to decide "this is too worn to wear any more" when it is a beloved but well worn dress, hence the dreadful wardrobe malfunctions) Given the desired eightfold wardrobe concept, have been thinking a lot about how long it takes for something to get from brand new to that state, and here is where my starting to record sewing projects online has been a real help...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

a Sunday bouquet


The only upside, as far as I am concerned, with our very hot summer, is that my black figs are actually ripening. The green ones do ripen, occasionally, but the black figs are my favorites as far as flavor. Next spring I will try air-layering the black fig, so as to have TWO black fig trees, and then plant it in a different spot in the yard, because hey... more yummy figs! It would be great to eventually have enough to dry some for the rest of the year.
:::

Though I have had a moratorium this year on bringing in new fabric, I do make exceptions. In January I found two lengths of black and white handwoven ikat at Goodwill! Almost seven yards (3 of the large pattern and 4 of the jaspe), though only 36 inches wide, but still at what works out to about $1.30 a yard, I am not complaining. My first thought was to use the fabric for something like a tunic or a pair of pants, but those are not favored everyday wear, dresses are...

The challenge was combining the two fabrics in one dress without it looking like the Patchwork Girl of Oz.  (indeed this is a somewhat frequent problem, while I have a LOT of fabric, it turns out that I don't have a lot of  actually have very few dress lengths of fabric. It was not possible to find six single dress lengths. This will make sorting out and culling the stash slightly easier. Slightly.)

After much sketching, the design that seemed appealing was to use the plainer fabric for the body of the dress, and the more highly patterned fabric for sleeves and a hem band, and add in a bit of bias around the neck and above the hem band... to me this has just an echo of the old-timey Old West "theme" this collection seems to be developing, in the pattern on pattern aspect at least.

:::

just when our plucky heroine was feeling all useless and unwanted, this comment from my online friend mrs.eccentric on Stitchers Guild brightened the whole day, nay probably the whole gorram month, in reflected appreciation:

Do you know that every time i do a google search on 'Lagenlook' or "Ivey Abitz" a certain someone always peers out at me from the image results? Yes, it's you Ms. A!!! frankly i think this is the most enchanting aspect of the computer age. I know for me it's very hard to find inspo as my style is so specific and eccentric, as i'm sure is the case for you. You have the added burden of being the inspir-er, and leading all us poor sheep.....we can follow you, but you must take the lead from your own inner light. We wee sheep be rooting for ye
:::

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday snippets


Well that was interesting, in the Chinese curse way; today in the mailbox, another one of those yearly "what will your Social Security benefits be if..." letters that come once a year. I read them, of course, though the numbers in either section are not cheerful. Last year, my income was the same as it was in 1977. No wonder my life seems like a struggle sometimes, in the late seventies that amount of dosh went a lot further! My life now is living proof of the axiom that "we have done so much for so long with so little, that we can now do anything with nothing"...  Not to say that I have "nothing" in my life, I have wonderful family and friends, a house over my head with hot and cold running water and all the accoutrements, and I am alive to enjoy these things!
:::


I have been putting off and putting off sewing myself some new clothes, for reasons of no mojo (and/or because of my own issues about how I look...) This has become an issue itself, since I've a very small wardrobe indeed even in the best of times*. My grey chambray pinafore, and my jordan almond popover dress both suffered grievous wardrobe failure this week, having become so threadbare that they tore apart. Fortunately this happened at home, and not, say, while I was riding on transit, or on my bike halfway to the grocery store.

Therefore our plucky heroine must simply get to filling in those gaps. I've a good selection of cotton dress lengths of fabric, and it looks like the overall theme for this go-round will be stripey, since a lot of them are stripes or ikat of various sorts. My plan for the weekend is to cut out six TNT dresses, and make "project kits" for myself, so that I can get them done with a minimum of fuss. As an incentive to self, have ordered four yards of extra dark overdyed Durango denim - I've long wanted a dark denim pinafore, and replacing my worn denim jacket would be a great thing as well. Seems like the overarching theme of the new wardrobe additions will be vaguely Old Western... with the denim and the woven stripes. In addition I ordered some yarn for the Fox Paws pattern; the colorway will be my usual (darks+taupe/grey+indigo), but adding a subtle turquoise accent, just to be a bit different. Might see about setting one of my sample enamels as a brooch, to go along with the theme... but for now, must get back to the cutting table and start the work!
:::

* My current wardrobe: note areas missing and vital clothing that needs replaced. The ideal is to have enough clothes to wear for a week before laundry must happen; to achieve this, there need to be close to eight dresses (autumn/winter/spring) and eight popovers (summer)


# TEE SHIRTS KNIT TOPS BLOUSES DRESSES PINAFORES POPOVERS SLIPS & APRONSPANTS
1 grey cave horse indigo/black layered blue/multi hawaiian CORNFLOWER
IKAT
medium denim indigo nightsky batik black knit embroidered slip cropped black knit
2 bad girl black black bleach print black print lawn black/grey polkadot black lovechild overall jordan almond leafy * *
3 grey floral
neckline
black/grey crow * BLUE/GREY
IKAT
black linen cobalt linen * *
4 bang said max black/grey stripey t-neck * brown japanese dogs black vertical pique blue microcheck linen * *
5 blue stripey cloud black/white winter t-neck * * grey corduroy * * *
6 dk blue leopard black plain * * dk grey linen * * *
7 brown acorn brown celtic wolf * * BROWN CORDUROY * * *
8 black square lace grey zip neck * * grey chambray * * *
BOLD is wearing out - italic rarely gets worn - strikethrough is worn out

Friday, September 19, 2014

all the week long


Look it's a teeny tiny baby rosemary (sidewalk penny for scale) - if it stays alive over the winter and puts down roots, it will become a good addition to the herbs here - my intent is to find it a nice sunny spot to live, and to keep it well pruned so it will not turn into the Giant Rosemary Of Doom! (there was a huge one here when I moved in, of the reach out an poke an eye variety, but it was toooo big, so I gave it away, as I had been told that it was too overgrown to cut back) What I want is a nice modest size one that will be decorative and useful at the same time...
:::

This has been a week of weird weather forecasts... Less than a week ago, we had a "volcanic activity statement", and this week, the weather forecast is for "areas of smoke"! Most assuredly, the smoke from the 36 Pits Wildfire is not doing anyone any good, and the smoke in the air here, though nothing like closer areas, was enough on Sunday to turn the sky an odd color and to leave me with a wheezy sore throat. Nonetheless my most sincere wish is for safety to those fighting the fire and for all the people more directly affected. There are wildfires all over the west this fire season.
:::

Have been sick on an off all week, so not as much as usual accomplished. Discretion being the better part of valor, have decided not to go to Summits Coronet, as staying home and resting seemed like a better smarter idea. My acupuncture treatment today feels like it is helping, as are the sea-bands. Hopefully a few more days will put the inner heroine to rights, but just in case I do have an appointment with my GP next week. In the meantime, my plan for the weekend involves short periods of useful indoor activity, alternating with rest; tomorrow is forecast to be in the low 90's again...
:::

I really wonder how far I walked on a daily basis in years past, when walking was not only a joyful activity but less of a struggle... I took it as a personal challenge when my 80 year old Mom got a pedometer from REI to start walking more. The tiny little thing I got is not even noticeable in my pocket. I did test it out several times to make sure the step count was accurate, and it seems to be...

Well that was interesting, my first day with the new pedometer, and even on a sick day, I walked almost 6,500 steps, which is nowhere near the "recommended" 10,000, but not shabby either. Second pedometer day: total steps = 10,029, or over 3 miles. Not bad considering I still am feeling quite puny. On the other hand, it was relatively cool and pleasantly grey most of yesterday, which helps a lot! Today was hot and sunny, so I suspect that the totals for today will be less...I am enjoying the challenge aspect of having it in my pocket though.
:::

September SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 tunic muslin for B carport cleared yardwaste bin
2 gown muslin for M shelves in SCA closet 5 yardwaste bags
3 2nd Pegasus embroidery herb planter improved funky red dresser
4 2 very tiny
Roman enamels
housefront plantings
mulched and weeded
old baby stroller
from garden shed
5 * disassemble and clean
venerable box fan
clay flowerpots
6 * *  4 Goodwill bags
7 * ---------- 2 paper recycling
8 * ---------- 1 paper recycling
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
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Monday, September 15, 2014

cats in the logbook


in which our plucky heroine finds her prejudicial preferences unchanged, as witness these two log entries from Saturday and Sunday...

Captains Log - Stardate19813.4:
The two alien life forms aboard are quite annoyed that only portions of the ship are available to them. Nonetheless, for their own safety and ours, this remains my decision. Our kitchen crew has been careful to prepare their meals at recommended intervals, but they seem little interested in eating. While I cannot explain to them the delay in returning to their home world, I shall do my best to distract them with affection and amusements.

Captains Log - Stardate19814.2:
The two alien life forms attempted to explore the ship while the navigation was off for the night, the evidence was clear in the various objects displaced when our morning crew came on deck. The more timid one approached us this morning with almost the alacrity of the more communicative one, and the kitchen crew promptly provided the morning meal as our manual describes appropriate. Unfortunately, it was necessary to call out the cleaning crew, when the freshly prepared food was unswallowed shortly after breakfast by the more communicative of the aliens.
Truly, I much prefer the company of dogs to the company of cats. Any fourlegged companion, indeed any companion at all, has creaturely needs and requires accommodations to be made by all involved. The ideal is to find accommodations that are in the functional end of the fun to hassle ratio. I hadn't remembered how much cats climb everywhere, and Acorn Cottage is far from cat-proof ! Fortunately no harm was done to either of the two guest "aliens" or to the house, and they went home this afternoon.
:::

Today I am grateful for the generosity of surprise gifts, and the wondrous way that on occasion the exact things we wish for arrive on our doorsteps, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively. I have been wishing for narrow raised beds tall enough to make gardening a little easier, and today Deb not only dropped the fixings for one on my front porch, but in addition a whole bunch of homegrown garden goodies. And today on my electronic doorstep, a gift from my friend Mary in San Jose: a knitting pattern for the new project that I have been craving the opportunity to try out, one that will teach me some new knitting skills.
may this gratitude contradict despair...

Friday, September 12, 2014

not bedknobs nor broomsticks...


In which artisanry and handicraft combine to create some pretty astonishing results...

Earlier this year our plucky heroine completed the three decorative cloisonné enamels that will be part of the new embellishment and refurbishment for the An Tir Orb of Royal Dominion, a venerable piece of Kingdom* regalia, which Bill Dawson and myself were granted a commission to elaborate and beautify...

←The larger photo shows the completed work...

The two smaller photos below are from earlier in the process showing the Orb partially fitted with the new decorative additions. The first one shows how two of the three upper bands fit between the demi-lion finial and the central band which is set with my enamels at the hinge plates. Still to be added are the lower bands and the supportive base.

The second photo below shows a slightly different view of the Orb, with a clearer view of one of the three different enamels that I made. The silver bands are set with semiprecious stones including Oregon sunstone, and pearl. The new embellishments will truly decorate the Orb in a way that is worthy of our fair Kingdom of An Tir. Bill Dawson is doing some truly impressive work here!

.


This picture gives an idea of the actual size of this piece of regalia, prior to our efforts...

:::

 I am grateful for the opportunity to help create lasting beauty with the work of my hands, that at least some of the hours of my life will go towards objects that will live on when I am dust in the wind... I joy in the bright world to see the handwork of those who came before me, and take comfort in the thought that with luck, those who come after will see my efforts and wonder...


may this gratitude contradict despair


* The Kingdom of An Tir is the part of the SCA that encompasses most of the Pacific Northwest region




Friday fragments


With autumn, we gather the fruits of our labor, ripening into plump, juicy bursts of sweetness and joy in the sharp briar patch of our lives.
~ Terry Windling
:::

Found on Ravelry the most amazingly beautiful knit flame stitch stripe patterned wrap: Fox Paws... while I am slowly slogging through getting closer to finishing my Flower Power Ponies, am considering actually purchasing the Fox Paws pattern, as it uses some techniques I don't already know, and it would look superb in whole assortment of different colors, in a way reminiscent of Missoni textiles. (turns out that the designer was inspired by Missoni, points to me for recognising it)
:::

I have two temporary house guests this weekend, Figgy and Percy, the Maine Coon cats that usually live with Sharon Rose... Their apartment is being fumigated and they needed a place for the kitties for the weekend. It will be interesting. They are both hiding under the computer table right now.
:::

My intention is to see how much I can accomplish this weekend in the "things made" category, which has been sadly neglected the last few months...
:::

Still feeling less than 100% well, not sure what is going on internally (and of course cancerhead is having a field day with this situation), made an appointment to see my GP in two weeks, because that is what you do...
:::

Yesterday was the first time I have ever seen "volcanic activity statement" at the top of the local weather report warnings list, alongside "wind advisory" and "fire danger warning". Apparently there was a small ash plume from Mt St Helens.
:::

Today I am grateful for public transit, which lets me live in the city without owning an automobile. True it does take a LOT longer to get from point A to point B, and there are definite drawbacks and limitations, but the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. I can get around town on the bus or the Max, and can go between cities on Amtrak or the Bolt bus. This necessity gives my life a different shape than the common one here in the USA, but then, I am familiar with that, since there is a lot in my way of life that is already out at the end of various bell curves...

may this gratitude contradict despair

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

prepositional Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine has a day that ends somewhat better than it begins...

Soon it will be too wet, and the nights too long, but tonight I rode on the borderline, in the dark, along the path, through the park, to the store, under the full moon.  And most kindly, the night clerk gave me both the this week's coupon (free dozen eggs) and the last week's (free small bottle of olive oil) to go with my stocking-up grocery run. Definitely a windshield day and not a bug day..
:::

I was reading The Archdruid Report today, and though John Michael Greer was writing about something completely different (technological superstitions), these two paragraphs seemed to me to be applicable not only to the topic being discussed, but to the world of clutter as well:

"In a typically cogent article, economist Herman Daly sorts our the law of diminishing returns into three interacting processes. The first is diminishing marginal utility—that is, the more of anything you have, the less any additional increment of that thing contributes to your wellbeing. If you’re hungry, one sandwich is a very good thing; two is pleasant; three is a luxury; and somewhere beyond that, when you’ve given sandwiches to all your coworkers, the local street people, and anyone else you can find, more sandwiches stop being any use to you. When more of anything no longers bring any additional benefit, you’ve reached the point of futility, at which further increments are a waste of time and resources.

Well before that happens, though, two other factors come into play. First, it costs you almost nothing to cope with one sandwich, and very little more to cope with two or three. After that you start having to invest time, and quite possibly resources, in dealing with all those sandwiches, and each additional sandwich adds to the total burden. Economists call that increasing marginal disutility—that is, the more of anything you have, the more any additional increment of that thing is going to cost you, in one way or another. Somewhere in there, too, there’s the impact that dealing with those sandwiches has on your ability to deal with other things you need to do; that’s increasing risk of whole-system disruption—the more of anything you have, the more likely it is that an additional increment of that thing is going to disrupt the wider system in which you exist."
:::

Fuck Yeah!
:::

It was a rough night last night, with despair and worry wrestling equanimity and winning, leading to insomnia and bad dreams. Somehow in all of that my alarming clock never was turned on. I woke up with just enough time to throw everyday clothing on and head out the door to catch the bus to my counseling appointment. No breakfast or even haircombing... BUT I was able to actually walk quickly enough to the bus stop that I made my appointment on time. Today I am grateful to Sharon Rose, who is a goddess of healing; without her efforts I might not be walking at all... Acupuncture and massage works, with the best of skillful hands, mind, and spirit!

may this gratitude contradict despair

Monday, September 8, 2014

of cabbage and not kings...


in which our plucky heroine considers progress made and imagines future improvements...

I started this quilt top about ten years ago. It is my interpretation of the "Moody Blues" design by Kaffe Fassett, done in a low contrast combination of indigo blues with accents of warm chocolatey brown...  his original quilt was made with more colorful fabrics. I am not much of a quilter, since the repetitive work I enjoy in my embroidery and knitting is instead intensely dull when piecing patchwork.

Indeed, I have made only two quilts in a long life of handwork and stitchery. I made a double monkey wrench quilt back in the early seventies, before I went away to college, and I made a log cabin photo quilt for my parents 50th anniversary.

This quilt top is only about a quarter completed, and once I find the many heavily curated fabric pieces I cut out for it, my current plan is to send it off to my online pal Cricket, who loves to quilt the way I love to embroider... She will turn it into a delightful thing for me, and in exchange I will make something for her that she will find equally a joy to have in her home...

(and just to keep a note of it here, I really like the simple border this woman chose for her version, with the narrow inner border with occasional triangles, and the plain outer border...)
:::

At the beginning of August there was the first glimmer of how the small bedroom here at Acorn Cottage could be improved... This past Sunday Kateline and I made a start on phase one, which will involve a vast amount of decluttering and reorganising. Each time a room or space is worked on, the things that don't belong end up either in their proper home, or in one of the two bedrooms. The proper home for fabric and the concomitant notions is in the small bedroom which is intended as a guest room/sewing space. It is obvious to me that to reach the level of function that I desire, there will need to be not only sorting and improved access, but a fair amount of culling of "material objects"

In the interest of documenting "before and after" improvement, these pictures will show more or less where the starting point is... though after our efforts on Sunday four grocery sacks went to Goodwill and two went into paper recycling... The state of the room is not very pretty right now, though there is room to deploy the guest futon, which has been moved to under the window wall on the north side of the room, which means that this is what you see when you open the door:

If you sit down on the futon, you see the closet wall, and the small bit of wall space next to the door. The closet formerly had a random assortment of sewing notions and "things" in the wire baskets in the white shelf unit. I don't know what wire baskets are actually intended for, I find them powerfully annoying. Kateline suggested that they be used for storing bedding for the guest futon, which makes a lot of sense, and that when guests are there they can store clothing in the empty baskets if desired...
The lower portion of the white closet unit has nice shallow drawers... I think that they will work well for storing a selection of small fabric bits, which I do use for things like bias binding and clothing embellishment. Looking online, found a clever way to fold fabric using a template; while the fabric bits are not nice regular fat quarters and yardage, but rather "cabbage" (collective noun for textile scrap), it should be possible to do something similar, and the intention is to store the pieces vertically, so as to have all the bits visible and contained neatly.


The west wall has some useful shelves and thread racks, but the entire wall (aside from the threads) needs emptied and sorted, as the space is being very poorly utilised. The older computer, needs to have my useful data removed and stored. The "desk", which is only a hollow core door, will be removed; the goal is to have only wall shelf storage here, for things like notions and possibly sewing patterns and other supplies and maybe more fabrics. I hope to have nothing piled or stored on the floor, and to be able to keep the folding sewing tables and ironing board corralled against this wall, under the shelves and in the corner of the room. That will allow easy access to one of the only two electric outlets in the room which is centered on this wall.


The east wall is partially quite functional, it has sturdy shelving that is currently holding lengths of fabric large enough for whole garments. The futon was formerly tucked underneath the shelving, which blocked the other of the two electric outlets. I would like this wall to hold most of my useable fabric collection, and hope to add another narrower shelf, at waist height, to store my sewing machines and serger when they are not in use. As is obvious, there is quite a way to travel before this space is clear, functional, and beautiful... as I keep telling myself, incremental progress is still progress.

:::

today I am grateful for the internets, which allow me to keep in contact with friends and family near and far, and which allow me access to "the reference library that never sleeps"...

may this gratitude counteract despair

Sunday, September 7, 2014

slow Sunday


in which our plucky heroine wanted to go out and walk today, or to ride my bike, but still too hot... finally gave in and went out for a short ride at dusk, was still in the high 80's. I sort of crave the movement, or maybe the illusion of movement.
:::

Yesterday as well as going to the river beach, on the way home my pals and I stopped for a snacky dinner at the restaurant across from St Johns Safeway: the Baowry. I had always been curious about the place, which transitioned from a driveway food cart into an entire converted house.

The interior was half bar and half tables, with rather too loud music, so we ate out on their front porch counter seats, since the patio seating was all full. It would have been nice if there had been some fairy lights or LED rope lights on the porch seating area, it was pretty dark, and had to resort to my keychain flashlight to see the food at all (our plucky heroine needed to remove unexpected very hot peppers)

Freydis and I each ordered one bao, while Lawrence had a bahn mi. The bao was not at all what I expected, being sort of "deconstructed", with a soft flat bun on the bottom and the filling components decoratively stacked on top, more like an openface taco. It was tasty though, and combined with a shared salad of marninated carrots jicama and other veggies was just the right light dinner.
:::

Today part of the day Kateline and I began dealing with incredibly cluttered small bedroom, used as a guest room/sewing room. It is a challenge to remember that incremental progress is still progress; four bags went to Goodwill and two to paper recycling, though the difference is barely visible. I ought go and photograph the "before" stage, because it will take a lot of effort to get it close to the picture in my mind.

What we did do, besides bag up obvious discards, was to remove the various sewing notions and fabric scraps and things from the wire drawers in the upper half of the closet cupboard, and put the bedding and pillows in there instead. Also found the bin of felt and felted wool, and the embroidery floss, both of which are needed for the sample kits for the class I am teaching later this month. So yeah, progress...

I am cogitating on how best to store sewing notions, and to store small pieces of fabric, and also how and where to store assorted hardware. It is a challenge, as our plucky heroine does not want to buy a lot of ugly plastic containers, yet has a minimal budget. But then, if it was easy, I'd have done it already!
:::

September SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 tunic muslin for B carport cleared yardwaste bin
2 gown muslin for M shelves in SCA closet 5 yardwaste bags
3 2nd Pegasus embroidery herb planter improved funky red dresser
4 * housefront plantings
mulched and weeded
old baby stroller
from garden shed
5 * * clay flowerpots
6 * *  4 Goodwill bags
7 * ---------- 2 paper recycling
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Patience is a virtue, (at least when she isn't shooting at you...) I am grateful for both the patience that Kateline has with my problematical declutter and organising project, the patience I had in doing over forty hours of embroidery, and the patience I must continue to develop in turning the house into the home in my imagination...

may this gratitude counteract despair

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine (aka "Fjorlief the forgetful") now has a phone buried in a pan of warm rice... hoping to dry it out

Getting a call in the middle of my afternoon nap this afternoon, inviting me on an excursion out to Kelley Point Park and the beach - for the win! Wading in the Willamette up to my hips and THEN remembering that my cell phone was in my pocket - not so much...
:::

Had an great curious interesting thought for my next-year's challenge, very different than my current "rising 60 challenge", one that involves artisanly creation - am contemplating a necklace of sixty non-identical links. This would be a fun way to encourage self to both mark significant moments in the year, and to not only practice known skills but also to explore other techniques and even media. Am considering having the links be a fixed and fairly small size, as a structural framework for ideas to dance in...
:::

Today I am grateful for box fans, and for mylar bubblepack, which together allow the fact that while it is 92F in the shade on the front porch, it is 73F inside the house. The windows are all closed, the curtains are all drawn, it is mostly dark inside Acorn Cottage (like the house of my best friend back in elementary school, back when not everyone in SoCal had air conditioning), but the temperature differential is worth it. True I have used more electricity this past month than a year ago, but the difference of 14 cents a day is within my capacity to absorb... so I am also grateful that there is electricity available to help ameliorate the heat, and that even in my reduced circumstances there is money to pay the bills

may this gratitude contradict despair

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday thoughts and tidbits


On Tuesday, our plucky heroine wrote a polite message to Sterilite customer service about my disappointment in the quality of their new dishpans (which cracked and tore before even a year had passed); they just wrote back to let me know that they had modified the product and offered to send me replacements... I am surprised and pleased to get such a speedy response, and an attempt to make things right.
:::

Today the two embroidered front yoke panels (my transit time handwork for weeks now) are complete, and I am rather pleased with the results, well worth the over forty hours of hand stitching. The design is a creative interpretation of the heraldry of Kateline MacFarlane. I combined wool felt applique, surface couching and a variation on Bayeaux tapestry stitch, on a background of wool melton cloth; the background panels are approximately 9" x 6.5"

I will be teaching a short embroidery workshop later this month on some of these techniques, and am hoping that I can borrow these as examples to share. Still need to write up a class handout sheet, and gather supplies for the little sewing kits that will include floss, a needle, and pieces of wool felt or felted wool. It has been a while since I did any teaching other than enameling, and I am looking forward to it!

:::

September SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 tunic muslin for B carport cleared yardwaste bin
2 gown muslin for M shelves in SCA closet 5 yardwaste bags
3 2nd Pegasus embroidery herb planter improved funky red dresser
4 * housefront plantings
mulched and weeded
old baby stroller
from garden shed
5 * * clay flowerpots
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Today I am grateful for being stubborn my determination to learn to be a functional human, despite years of evidence to the contrary. Finding polite ways to speak up, for example, is a skill I continue to practice with much effort, and greater or lesser success. Letting go of old grudges is another big challenge that I continually find opportunities to attempt, the hope being that in time there will be fewer and fewer of them to raise their ugly little heads. And I am grateful to still be walking in the bright world, so that I may continue to move towards lovingkindness...

may this gratitude contradict despair...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

flotsam and jetsam


in which our plucky heroine enjoys the random gifts of the universe...


This morning I heard a repeating clank in the middle of Lombard as traffic was passing... when there was a lull, instead of the expected piece of scrap metal, I found this excellent 10" crescent wrench. Ground score!! (apparently there is an actual "Crescent" company that makes wrenches, I didn't know that - the other side of the handle says "10 in Crescent® USA") Since I am not a lady who lunches but a wench who wrenches, this is quite a welcome addition to my collection.
:::


In addition, sometime in June I started covering parts of the backyard with layered cardboard and woodchip mulch (because grass is stupid unless you have a reason for it, and I want a veggie garden and fruit and hens, not a lawn that needs mowed)... This weekend we noticed that sometime between June and now, this feral grapevine began to grow smackdab in the middle of the yard.

It looks quite healthy, and would be a welcome addition to the landscape, just not right where it is, said space being intended for vegetable garden. Will be a challenge to figure out a good place to plant it, where it will be happy and will also be useful. I suspect it wants a sunny spot, and something strong to climb up and along.

Current idea is to get it into a large pot for now, my two ideas so far are for either somehow trellis it along the south side of the front porch, or near the little pear tree, with a trellis arch or arbor that creates an entry to the backyard. (If the stupid deck were not in the yard, it would might do well used to shade the east window, but removing the deck is not happening soon) I shall consult my British fruit books, and my master gardener pal, and come up with a plan...
:::

Today was my second meeting with my new counselor, and we are slowly edging closer to a workable relationship, I hope... I was quite fond of my former counselor R, who shared my metaphorical approach to life; it will be interesting to work with a different set of skills and outlook. On the way home, had an interesting insight: given that my core ground disfunctional lens is "being unwanted", this has an obvious connection to my economic issues. And to my difficulty in self promotion and my fear and immobility about new teaching venues. Writing this down because I have a sense this is important - if I can sort this out, it won't be me holding myself back from the life I want, but the ordinary challenges that everyone faces...
:::

Today I am grateful for paying attention - to the difference in the outer world that signals useful salvage, and to the difference in the internal world that signals here be there dragons to tame or slay...

may this gratitude contradict despair...



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

dishpan hands


I wash all the dishes by hand here at Acorn Cottage, (the fact that the kitchen was mostly unreconstructed and without a dishwasher was actually a plus in my book) but the small single sink that was probably installed sometime in the 80's is less than ideal for a household that actually cooks. I imagine the original sink was larger, based on the underlying cabinets, and oh how I wish the original wall faucet was still there, sigh... the kitchen faucet pipes were cut and left hanging inside the wall, as we found when dealing with the bathroom plumbing.
Since my preference is to have a double sink, our plucky heroine has been making do for the last ten years with two dishpans in the sink when doing the washing up. The first set lasted ten years before the stress of usage caused irreparable wear and they became garden storage bins instead. The second set bought to replace them, same brand and style, have not lasted even a year before tearing through next to the handholds in a way that makes lifting the partially full pans of dishwater out of the sink most precarious! I was not impressed. (and now wish I had thought to read the current reviews, as I often do before making a purchase, apparently I am not the only one who finds the new "easy-tear" pans less than useful)

Washing dishes is a daily chore, however, and keeping the water properly contained is vital. So one of the small side trips this last weekend was to Ikea, where I picked up two BOHOLMEN rinsing tubs.  I am hoping that they will prove more durable. They don't hold quite as much water, which is actually a plus for conservation, and the plastic feels a bit more durable. Only time will tell...
:::

There are some plants that need to come and live here. I want parsley, and cilantro. I want miners lettuce and purslane. I want a small rosemary. And I want a rhubarb with red stalks. Apparently my yard wants a grape, since out in the middle of the cardboard and mulch layer that I spread out earlier this summer, a feral grape has taken root. Somehow, and from who knows where... Smack dab in the center of the yard, in the spot intended for future veggie garden beds (am consulting with more experienced gardeners as to how and where to move it, since there is no good support structure there; it might be nice over in the part of the yard near the baby pear tree, where it could eventually get a trellised archway of some sort, making an entrance to the backyard)
:::

September SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 tunic muslin for B carport cleared yardwaste bin
2 gown muslin for M shelves in SCA closet 5 yardwaste bags
3 * herb planter improved funky red dresser
4 * housefront plantings
mulched and weeded
old baby stroller
from garden shed
5 * * clay flowerpots
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
Looking at where the gaps are in my current SMART goal chart, my effort this month will be to push myself to complete three "things made" each week. My intent the first week of September is to focus on some sewing and small metalwork projects, with the possibility of more enameling next week (fingers crossed for cooler weather)
:::

today I am grateful for rest, for the lovely handcarved bed I sleep in that is a memory of the life I once had, for the comfort of a soft safe quiet place to sleep, for the cooling breeze from the tiny vertical fan that stands against the window gap, and for the life I have that allows me time to rest as well as to work
may this gratitude contradict despair...

Monday, September 1, 2014

SMART September - or begin as you mean to go on...


in which our plucky heroine starts out the month with another visit from my mighty Blue Cedar House pals! Their visit involved quite a bit of actual, well, labor. And plenty of good delicious shared meals, pleasant chat, several useful visits to Mr Plywood, the farmers market across the street, Ikea, and even a side trip to 50 Licks for the best ice cream on the planet...

The carport was mostly a sad drift of dead leaves, junk, old lumber, and debris yesterday; they cleared it all out, stacked the useful bits, and removed the detritus... it is filled with potential now, ready to become an outdoor room for cooking and drying laundry under cover from the sun and rain (once the many bags of yard debris that are just out of the photo go away)


Herb triangle is weeded and mulched; the little brick walls are restacked. The lovage, thyme, and savory are quite happy. I think this might be a good spot for a small rosemary. And, apparently my rhubarb has once again entirely given up on life.  I really would like to establish a strong healthy rhubarb plant, as it is a favorite of mine. Anyone out there have success with it? I am beginning to think it needs a different richer soil, or something...

A beautiful river of mulch! The front yard of Acorn Cottage has not looked this nice ever, and not this tidy since I moved in... The happy plants have room to breathe (and maybe acquire some new friends at some point; more hardy fuschia maybe?)

Mr Robertson knows his way around a toolbox...

A new set of shelves will be added along one wall of the SCA closet - four foot long and only eight inches deep. The back and side edges will be supported by these wooden cleats.
The shelves are supported on the front edge with built up legs, and stabilised with additional 1 x 2 along the front edges
The completed shelves store various cans of housepaint, until the rooms here are all not-white. Can you tell that I am quite fond of the Metro Paint recycled house paint? The upper shelf will hold some of my SCA gear, and as (over time) there is less need for paint storage the space will be useful to store more eventing supplies and equipment in a tidy and accessible way

Not visible yet is the good beginning made on my sewing SCA clothing for the Robertson family. The muslins for the basic tunic for him, and basic gown for her, were both fitted and basted, which will allow me to create various additional garments from those patterns. I still need to cut and sew the muslin for their daughter. Now when the appropriate fabrics become available, a veritable sewing whirlwind can commence.
:::

September SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 tunic muslin for B carport cleared yardwaste bin
2 gown muslin for M shelves in SCA closet 5 yardwaste bags
3 * herb planter improved funky red dresser
4 * housefront plantings
mulched and weeded
old baby stroller
from garden shed
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Not every exchange needs happen in the world of commerce, sometimes we just help each other out... that is the world I want to live in, where heart and hands both are part of the equation, and friends help friends to mutual benefit. Today I am grateful for the learning in my hands and mind, the skills, that now as I slide down the path to becoming an elder, not only bring me great satisfaction, but also allow me a path to share with others in a way that brings needful assistance with things that are difficult.
may this gratitude contradict despair...