Friday, October 31, 2014

snippets and trim


in which our plucky heroine bounces back to new normal...

It has been a week of ups and downs, but ending on a positive note, most gratitudinally. My medical tests came back well within the normal range, and my pal SR had a good suggestion on how I might reframe my thinking about said biannual experience. The case all my identity cards live in went missing, and then turned up again just before all the cards were cancelled and a quick bike ride to the DMV was necessary.

Am still going head to head with crankypants computer, hence the lack of my usual pictorial dense posting, actually the lack of everyday posting at all. However, another more tech-savvy friend has offered to go computer window shopping with me, which will be of great educational assistance. And there are still several possible computer towers that will likely be heading my way, and the recalcitrant box can go be recycled!

But what I want to share is this absolutely charming knitted oak leaf tutorial, from the same designer as the delightfully complicated Fox Paws pattern that is now almost halfway completed. The oak leaf is designed as a way to learn a particular knitting design technique (stacked decreases), but I think it is awesome in its own way, too! I can imagine several of these used as millinery decoration. One can never have too many hats, after all!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

medlars and quinces and apples oh my


Two of the most interesting things this week: we had a partial solar eclipse, and the sky cleared enough that it was possible to view it (our plucky heroine used the most simple way of safely seeing it, by projecting the image through a pinhole onto a piece of cardstock) As well, my friend Kada sent me a care-package box with some uncommon tree fruit along with some apples there were quinces and medlars!

I am rather passionately fond of quince as a flavor, and have made both quince jelly and "quincemeat", both of which are lovely and which, when I can bear to give up the delightful scent of the ripening quinces, will be the fate of those lumpy yellow orbs. I simply must manage to plant a quince tree here, since they do well in our climate, and are both beautiful and useful

I have only ever read about medlars, and it will be most interesting to see how they taste... As I only have six, I am not sure what sort of preserve to make with them; perhaps these medlar comfits. There is probably not enough to cook down to make this medlar cheese, or this medlar jelly...

These medlars are not yet ready to eat; they are a little smaller than a golf ball

Raintree Nursery has an assortment of medlar varieties and fruiting quinces; as does One Green World with a slightly different selection of fruiting quinces and medlars. And apparently flowering quince is also edible, with tiny fruits that can be turned into a lemony syrup... browsing in fruit tree catalogs can be enticing...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

wishful Wednesday - pokeweed


in which our plucky heroine contemplates massive pokeweed, taller than my head, covered in pokeberries...
Definitely a Do-Not-Eat (poison), but theoretically the berries make a vivid red dyestuff. From what I have read it works best on wool, and needs mordanted with vinegar. This blog has information about a cold dye process that gave a vivid purple, as well as some data about how fast the dye is.

I am quite tempted to gather some of the berries to try out this process. There are enough large glass jars sitting unused in the lower pantry that one could be reserved for non-food use, and white vinegar is cheap. Some red/purple wool for cardweaving, that uses locally grown dyestuff, would be fun, even though poke is not SCA-period appropriate...



note: There are plenty of things that are used in natural dyeing that are not edible and can be quite toxic. That is why having separate pans and implements is important, as is using good safe protocol. There are plenty of things commonly grown in gardens around here that are just as toxic to humans. (This is by far not the most toxic locally common weed either; Poison Hemlock is very common here)

Monday, October 20, 2014

evensong


Every six months I stop, and ask, please give me yet another sixmonth - and sure I am that I am not the only one with this prayer (the world is chock full of folks asking for yet another day, much less another sixmonth)... There is more that I want to do, more artisanry that asks to be born, and after two and a half years my body and spirit are finally starting to heal. I don't know if I will ever take the bright world for granted, I don't think I ever took the bright world for granted, though there are days now when I don't look that in the eye as directly as the night before my biannual visit to the oncologist...

Monday musings


in which our plucky heroine is slightly dubious...

The autumnal quarter is very slow going; there had been some progress in the things made category, but mostly nothing is completed, which is frustrating but cannot be helped. Computer issues are still plaguing Acorn Cottage, which will also eventually be sorted out, but for now means much extra transit time to and from the library. Am working on a sekrit embroidery largesse project (not something I usually participate in) but it is giving me another chance to track time vs design complexity which is good for estimating in the future. Pictures once it has gone to the final destination.

The boxes for the garment sewing roundabout arrived in the mail today, as did the first installment of the poetry from my beloved mother, which is another project in the works: I will be making up alphabetical illustrations for the different sections. I have a long list, actually, of projects either as worktrade or "pro bono" (would that there was as long a list of actual work projects, or that I was retired!) Nonetheless am continuing effort on as many fronts as can be managed, with the goal still being to fill the Rising 60 SMART chart by the end of the year...
:::

October SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 gown muslin for L sewing machine shelf yardwaste bin
2 sports-bra pattern for B salad table base ----------
3 sports-bra for B small raised bed ----------
4 Norse embroidery pattern wall anchored lumber ----------
5 * shower handpiece
holder replaced
----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
:::

Saturday, October 18, 2014

doorway into autumn


in which our plucky heroine returns however briefly...

Have really been missing the ability to get online whenever the mood strikes, to record the daily activities of Acorn Cottage for both my own leaky-sieve memory, and for the friends and family who find me here. This morning on the way to the compost bin the rising sunlight hit this possibly abandoned arachnid home just right, and I was taken with how much the pattern looked both like a shattered windshield and a doorway.
:::

B&K have been visiting here since Thursday; it was quite the adventure for them bringing their electric car all the way from Olympia. Apparently electric vehicles are quite power-sparing when used around town (as they recover energy every time you go downhill or use the brakes and send it back to the battery for further travel) but long distance highway travel uses up power very quickly; they had to stop three times to recharge.

It is a very different experience to ride in a car that is so very quiet both inside and out, conversation is easy when not hollering over engine noise. I will admit, as well, to being quite charmed by the backup camera video display on the dashboard. There is, however, no likelyhood of a car in my future, electric or otherwise. I do appreciate, though, the rare pleasures that others take so for granted as just part of their daily life...
:::

October SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 gown muslin for L sewing machine shelf yardwaste bin
2 sports-bra pattern for B salad table base ----------
3 sports-bra for B small raised bed ----------
4 * wall anchored lumber ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * *  ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
:::

Thursday, October 16, 2014

patience is a virtue

just not one our plucky heroine is particularly good at... computer issues are still a big deal, I have been using the public library resources to maintain contact with the electronic world, and hence few blog posts as well... it will be resolved eventually...

Stay tuned for further developments

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

well begun but not half done


A third of the way through the Fox Paws pattern knitted wrap; while it still requires counting, the repeats become more comprehensible with repetition. Blocking will smooth out the texture a bit once the project is complete. The knitting itself is not that complicated, being mostly garter stitch. The complicated part is counting out all the repetitive increases and decreases, which is what makes the fascinatingly psychedelic topology. If you "unwound" it all, it is simple stripes in five colors, in a varying repeat...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

(insert bad word here)


in which our plucky heroine is most annoyed...

home computer is now DEAD this morning... wont open properly or shut off at all... am at Public Library, my online presence will be severely compromised for the foreseeable future until I figure out a way to resolve the situation

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday musings


Several years ago our plucky heroine attempted to adopt a rescue Akita who had, unbeknownst to me at the time, such severe separation anxiety that she tried to eat her way out of the front of the house when I left to go to work... The adoption failed (though she was successfully adopted by a family with different circumstances) but it left Acorn Cottage with seriously damaged windowsills, which due to the odd size and construction of the front window, were unable to be replaced. For the last several years the curtains to the west have simply remained closed, covering the damage...

I then came up with the idea, inspired by my love of McMenamins decorative building embellishment style, to make mosaic windowsill panels and then box in the windowframe to hold them in place. The needed wooden substrate for the windowsill mosaics is now all cut to size, so one of this winter's projects will be to actually make the artwork... I have an assortment of glass tesserae in various colors to play with, as well as some tile cutting snips. Have only ever played with broken dishes as mosaics, but it looks like a gentle learning curve as long as careful with the cut glass shards...
:::

Am thinking of turning one of the small raised beds in the parking strip into a home for rhubarb. I love rhubarb. And amending one discrete area would be fairly doable. I have tried several sites around the yard for rhubarb without success, and have been told that it needs TONS of compost/manure and probably more sunshine than I had given it to begin with. Now to find a good start of the sort that is Really Really Red-stalked
:::

Left hand is very slightly better this morning, not much improved, a little less pain, a little more mobility. I get so frustrated with feeling like "the one hoss shay" where one piece recovers only to have another piece become wonky. Still, that I can feel at all means that girl is still alive and walking in the bright world...
:::
October SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 gown muslin for L sewing machine shelf yardwaste bin
2 * salad table base ----------
3 * small raised bed ----------
4 * wall anchored lumber ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * *  ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
:::

Sunday, October 5, 2014

progress leaps ahead...


... in which our plucky heroine washes a LOT of dishes...

The amount of work that was accomplished this weekend was EPIC! My Blue Cedar House pals were here again, along with their daughter, and also my friend Sharon C (five folks make a really full house, but we are planning on adding in another two for their next visit over TurkeyDay weekend next month...) In addition, while not all the needful fabric has been acquired, there was enough to sort out and choose which would be used for the sewing worktrade. (The plan is for me to have completed enough clothes for their family to attend a weekend long SCA event by next camping season) Still need linen for several woman-sized underdresses, and probably something sturdy for a few pairs of tall man-size fighter pants...
:::

As part of my efforts to declutter and improve the small bedroom/guest room/sewing room, a shelf to hold the sewing machines for easy access and storage was planned:
the idea was to make a shelf that was sturdy enough to remain stable while holding the sewing machines... William R came up with an efficient and clever plan to use materials already on hand as leftover from former projects, and the thin plywood top is reinforced with crosspieces of one-by wood, to make the entire shelf vastly more stout and strong...

The new shelf in place, looking much like my initial idea, and at a suitable height so as to make it easy to pick up a machine for use, or to set them down again for storage. (I still need to give some thought to how to usefully anchor the machines against earthquakes, probably with some combination of hardware and rope/bungees; fabric falling from shelves is soft, machines falling from shelves likely break)
:::

Mindy worked more of her magic in the yard, and the small raised bed that Debra brought over is now neatly bookending the persimmon tree out on the parking strip, and currently filled with leaves and compost, waiting for a plan for what will live there...

In the older bed on the other side of the persimmon, the two plant babies Deb brought over here are now in the ground: borage, and "wax flower". I plan on filling the rest of this planter with garlic for the winter growing season, and covering the top with wire to make it less attractive to the neighborhood cats!

The north side yard, aka the dry season clothesdryer... Mindy moved the self-watering planters out of the fenceline, since that area gets NO sun in the wintertime, so nothing much grows along there till the year turns. Self watering planters were moved to along the fence in the back yard near the pear tree, a temporary home. These need renewed with more potting soil and compost, and some more thought given to an improved and more permanent location for them...
..
:::

For years now I have wanted a "salad table", a standing height growing bench for flats of greens. Inspired by the instructions on the UMaryland Extension site, and by the idea of separate internal trays from this site, I drew up plans that would take advantage of the stash of 2x4's and the skillful help of Bill Robertson.

Now there is a nice Sturdy Salad Table framework that fits at the end of my front porch, where it can take advantage of the wintertime light. I still need to build the internal trays/flats that will fit inside the tabletop, but those are both smaller and easier for me to make with hand tools.
:::

Am somewhat concerned that the irregularity in the tendons in my left hand seem to becoming worse instead of improving. I plumb hate it when something internal suddenly goes all cattywhompus for no apparent reason. Time for more needles I suspect, since my favorite topical anti-inflammatory is not being much help. Sadly, this means that the knitting must needs go on temporary hiatus, just when it was starting to become really delightful to play with...
:::
Tomorrow is Bill-Squared Day, being the natal day of two of my three favorite Bills...
:::
October SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 gown muslin for L sewing machine shelf yardwaste bin
2 * salad table base ----------
3 * small raised bed ----------
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * *  ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
:::

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday fragments


...in which our plucky heroine takes baby foxen steps towards a warm winter wrap...

The first twelve rows (one repeat) of my Fox Paws knitted wrap project completed. There are almost sixteen repeats in all, and the colors change places from repeat to repeat. This far into the knitting, while it is still challenging (K5tog!!), the sense of the pattern is coming clear. Blocking the knitting once it is all completed will smooth and even out the pattern, and given how much time this repeat took to knit, the project will hopefully be wearable sometime later this winter. For some reason, my camera washes out the slightly turquoise blue yarn to baby blue, in truth it is a somewhat more subtle and interesting color...
:::

While out and about on my bike, just before the season turned, I managed to salvage eight wooden pieces, which seem to be uprights from GORM. They will be most useful in building things for the yard, possibly a new improved lighter-to-move chicken house, possibly part of a Salad Table, which is something I have been wanting to build for years now, and is on the short list currently. A Salad Table is an elevated growing bed for greens and small vegetables, easy on the back, and easy to move around to various locations to take advantage of micro climates. I have been thinking about this as a way to dip a toe into more gardening, and as a way to make reuse of not-quite-greywater even easier.

The original Salad Table™ from University of Maryland Extension

An "improved" salad table with interior trays and wheels...




Thursday, October 2, 2014

a SMART update


in which our plucky heroine takes a look at the SMART results from September...

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 8 Roman buttons disassemble and clean
venerable box fan
clay flowerpots
6 sample for Fox Paws *  4 Goodwill bags
7 * ---------- 2 paper recycling
8 * ---------- 1 paper recycling
9 * ---------- 4 Goodwill bags
10 * ---------- cardboard boxes
11 * ---------- ----------
I am surprised that the results so far this year are rather the opposite of what I would expect, with things made trailing behind. And in the entire month I didn't make anything for myself at all.  I need to pick up the pace of thingmaking, if I intend to meet my goal by the end of the year...
:::

October SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 * * ----------
2 * * ----------
3 * * ----------
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * *  ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
:::

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Inktober


...in which our plucky heroine takes up the challenge tossed by her pal Vandy, and agrees to participate in Inktober

No, Inktober is not a celebration of wearable ink, though in Portland one might be forgiven for thinking that, as seemingly everyone has body ink of one sort or another. Though I have done drawings over the years that have ended up as permanent artwork on other folks, my own skin remains uninked...

Actually the challenge is to draw every day for the entire month, and to post the drawings online. So, this is my first drawing, done from a photograph:
Kipenzi, the beloved Basenji companion of my sister Gigi and her family for twelve years. They said their goodbyes yesterday, now he waits on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge...


The House-Dog's Grave

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
If you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no,
All the nights through I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read‚
And I fear often grieving for me‚
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying.
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.

No, dears, that's too much hope:
You are not so well cared for as I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided...
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

~ Robinson Jeffers

solitary foxen


...in which our plucky heroine returns to sticks and string...

Using my cardweaving fingering yarn, I knit a sample of the Fox Paws pattern one repeat deep and two repeats across, so as to get some idea of how this unusual and fascinating pattern works:
This flavor of knitting itself is quite anti-social, as I will need to really focus on the Very Complicated pattern to get all the increases and decreases correct, so no daydreaming, or hanging out chatting on this one… the pattern is mostly garter stitch, aside from the simple plain stockinette chevron section, with a most wild combination of increases and decreases to create the wonderful interlooped "fox paws".

Last week I ordered an assortment of yarn from KnitPicks in my favorite colors... all heathery darks and subtle tones, with a bit of opalescent bluegrey turquoise as an accent... This is going to be a beautiful coordinating light warm wrap, a new accessory for my cool weather clothing. No idea how long it will take to knit up, but it will be most satisfying in both the knitting and the future wearing...

Today I am grateful for knitting, which always brings an ongoing happiness in the process, a happy memory of being a child and learning from my mother the skills that serve me well my whole life long, a warmhearted glow at the kindness of a friend who gifted me with this pattern, and a steady foundation knowing that who I am is who I came in as; though scarred by the fires I've walked through, I am still that handicraft obsesssed child determined to add bits of beauty to the bright world by the works of her hands, and taking joy in the times I can share that knowledge with other folk on their own pathways...