Sunday, November 30, 2014

oh darn!


...in which our plucky heroine makes needful repairs...

Am entirely baffled as to what caused these huge holes in the cuffs of my fingerless gloves. But since the change in the weather requires the warmth of wool, I am trying a new-to-me method of darning repair, instead of my usual simply weave a patch over the damaged area. Instead, this has each row use a separate length of yarn, that is knit in place in pattern, and then well anchored on each edge. Start by picking up a row of stitches beyond the damaged portion...

The result is a patch that has the same characteristics as the initial fabric, in this case the ribbing is still almost as stretchy as the undamaged portion, and aside from the loose yarn ends still visible where it was anchored in place, you can barely tell it has been mended... The yarn ends will be tucked to the inside and trimmed off. This method is slower than simply weaving a patch, but the results for this sort of use seem to be superior...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery fingerless gloves mended bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * recycle bin full
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 candied peel * ----------
7 Quincemeat - 7 jars ---------- ----------
8 Mindy undergown ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::


Heading into the last month of the year, and this is what remains for me to meet my rising 60 SMART goal challenge. With attention and effort it should be entirely possible. Has been surprising to me that getting some help from friends has had such an effect on the things discarded and the things repaired categories, and makes me wonder what a difference it would make if most of my everyday work also took place, at least occasionally, in the company of others, remembering how much more productive it seemed back in my school days, or in the years I shared a studio...food for thought anyway...
December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 * * *
2 * * *
3 * * *
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::


Saturday, November 29, 2014

die full of pie...


... in which our plucky heroine realises that when almost the entire Blue Cedar House clan descends on Acorn Cottage, it becomes "House Of Beds"...

bedding in condensed-for-travel arrangement:::

The cooking preparations, intended to begin the night before the feast, were delayed 'til the morning, since time with friends is not about adding stress. The turkey, after three and a half days in the fridge, remained mostly frozen. I guess I have a good fridge. The turkey was transferred to a tubtrug in the bath, floating in cold water. All would be well, since our dinner is planned for evening, not midday (note: the turkey was still not fully defrosted by lunchtime, necessitating radical kitchen sink and tepid water action) Despite all that, it roasted up quite successfully, and yielded several quarts! of drippings for gravy (must google uses for extra turkey gravy!!)

Lard for the piecrust, instead of butter (or shortening... shudder the thought) - the pecan filling was made with Lyles Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup, and with rum instead of vanilla, before the ravenous horde descended... (could have used an additional cup of nutmeats, remember that for next year)
Look at the amazing flakiness of a lard crust... Mindy J Robertson decided that my idea of using homemade lard from New Seasons instead of shortening in her ancestral piecrust recipe was more than acceptable!

The holiday feast for Blue Cedar House and Acorn Cottage: roasted turkey, turkey gravy, spinach bake, mashed orange kabocha squash, baked cauliflower florets (still in oven), cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, whipped cream (made fresh before we ate the pie, which was quite some time after the rest of the feast) All homemade and everso tasty...

so... after our holiday feast the Blue Cedar House folks decided that their new household motto needs to be "If you're going to die - DIE FULL OF PIE." I need someone to translate this into bad Latin for me...
:::

Friday there was some planning of the next batch of indoor projects, to begin after 12th Night - a plinth on locking casters for my wee fridge, and some solid window valences for the bedrooms. The least crowded place I know of on Black Friday is the lumberyard, if there were two other customers in Mr Plywood besides myself and Mr Robertson, I'd be surprised... Our intention was to scout materials and prices, so there will be more clear thought and less surprises when it comes time to build these helpful additions to the cottage. We also went over the linen fabric that had been sent down by the aunties for possible Blue Cedar House clothing, and looked at the progress that happened since last month. Saturday was mostly taken up with packing everything back into the vehicles, and most likely will not be together in one house again 'til sometime next year..

Now however, it is time to put my feet up, maybe knit a row on my FoxPaws shawl, and think about what to do next... I am truly grateful for this chance to extend hospitality to my dear friends, and to three generations - my longterm friend Sharon, who has been in and out of my life since tenth grade in school, her daughter Heather, who I helped homeschool, and Heather's daughter Ellie... it has been a long strange life, and praise all the powers that be, it isn't over yet!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

thanksgiving


... in which our plucky heroine considers the twin blessings of fellowship and food, and gives thanks to Dame Fortune for the gift...


...from all of us here at Acorn Cottage and Blue Cedar House, wishing to you and yours a taste of the abundance and sweetness in the bright world, with much gratitude for the gifts of friendship and love, and an everpresent sense of how lucky we are to have both a roof overhead, food to eat, friends and family, and a life that however difficult it may seem, still allows us to discover joy and adventure...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

wishful Wednesday


... in which our plucky heroine wishes she had six arms, or a clone, or a wife....

Almost the whole Blue Cedar House clan is heading this way for the holiday, and while it will be a real delight to have such a full house, is also means that there is a lot of Chinese puzzle to make room for everyone to sleep! Am currently moving various project-piles of fabric around, with the aim of both moving furniture around and therebye freeing up floor space where sleeping pallets (aka tourney beds) can happen. Fortunately the weather has moderated quite a bit, and between that and the masses of baking that are planned, the house will not be it's usual ice-boxy self.

My pal Eva up in Seattle first showed me Spotify, a year or so ago... Slowly I am making up playlists of the music of my youth, at least the more common things that they DO have in their archives, and my kitchen work is much improved by the additional variety of tunes. After all, cannot sit in front of screen watching videos and get anything else done at the same time! Today I found the "shuffle" button. I may be slow but I do get there eventually...

I have no words... this is one of the songs that has carried me when nothing else was there... Actually Quah (Jorma Kaukonen) and Souvenirs (Dan Fogelberg) together will make things right when nothing else will; those albums brought me home from some pretty far places... back in those days of long travel inner space journeying... the music still feels like a warm arm around these untouched shoulders letting me know it will be okay...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery * bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * ----------
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 candied peel * ----------
7 Quincemeat - 7 jars ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday tidbits


There are three Asian garnish cutters in my box of cookie cutters, a flower, a butterfly, and a horse. The horse (our plucky heroine was born in Year of the Horse) was a souvenir from one of the trips Bill and I took back in the 90's, back when we went down to the Bay Area every winter to sell our wares at West Kingdom 12th Night.

It was a respite from the grey damp coldness, to walk in the sunshine, smell the jasmine blooming, and usually a side trip to San Francisco Chinatown for pot stickers and windowshopping the gemstone displays. Those days are long gone, along with the prosperity that allowed them, Bill and I travel separately for years now, but the memories are bright, bright as the gold of grapefruit still is...


Since the candied peel came out quite soft this time, and since I pared it fairly thin, it seemed like a fun idea to try making decorative shapes, just to see if it was possible. Though this would be pretty difficult to do at any large scale, the results are quite impressive! Usually all I do is cut the peel into strips, either as an ingredient or as a confection; for my dear father, I have been known to dip the candied peel strips into dark chocolate...

:::

Since it has been a month from when I began the Great Pokeberry Experiment, today was a good day to add some wool to the dyebath. The berries have been soaking in white vinegar since October. Last night I mordanted a small amount of cream color fingering wool in vinegar, the proportion is 1/2c vinegar to 4oz of wool, but I didn't use anywhere near that much wool, so used only a tablespoon full... My neighbor friend Molly came over with a small amount of wool to try it out too; the wool will marinate in the cold dye bath for a week. Even on first dipping it into the jar, it has a splendid red color...

:::

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday media and musings...


in which our plucky heroine takes an imaginary Swedish journey...
watching this reminded me that this bright world is so full of all number of things, plus it is fjord horses in the snow...
:::

For the last two weeks, in scraps of spare time, this was in process, both the motifs inspired by the Valsgarde embroidery from 10thC Sweden, and the hand stitching on the sleeve bands. It will be the embellishment on an undergown for my dear friend Mindy of Blue Cedar House; I'm sewing for her and her husband and little girl, what fun to be making Norse clothes for a whole family...

For SCA clothes I like to combine machine stitching where it is less obvious and hand stitching on the edges and borders where it is visible, as a good compromise to give a handmade look without spending even more days and days stitching and finishing the long seams. (I did that once, to see how long it took; wool is exponentially faster than linen or silk, as the needed seam finishing is a lot less stitch intensive) Something about the small dotted stitches holding down the borders and bands just makes me happy, and often I choose a contrasting color to highlight those and add another layer of visual interest...
:::

Unearthed another four bags of random papers hiding in the living room, but am temporarily ignoring them in favor of sewing and metal activities today... perhaps as an after dinner wind down I might start digging into them, but I really want to make more progress in my "things made" category today! the declutter category is already full for this month (not that the declutter is done, just that there is so much that it is comparitively easy to fill those boxes on my tickybox chart) Truly though, the more declutter happens, the easier it will be to make things and repair things...
:::

Another good thing unearthed in yesterday's declutter was this pattern Vogue 2614, long out of print, for an assortment of jackets, view A is for a moto-jacket, something I've wanted to attempt for quite some time. My intent is to combine the relevant style details with the shoulder and armscye already fitted back in 2005 when I made up KwikSew 2895. There is an assortment of additional inspiration on my moto mania Pinterest board, and I've some really heavy distressed black denim that might be excellent for this. My memories of that job decades ago stitching motorcycle jackets will probably be helpful, as there are some features I want to add, that are not in either pattern, like the armsceye gussets.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

diluvian


...in which our plucky heroine feels a bit like the Red Queen running faster and faster just to stay in one place; it seems like those dang boxes and bags of junk just keep multiplying...

While the rain deluge outside played hob with my numbers of steps walked today, there were instead three bags and a huge box of junk sorted through... While most of what was found was pretty easy to discard, (some to recycle, some to garbage, some to Goodwill,and a small pile of papers and textila to keep) the book reports and creative writing from middle school, and the travel diary from a trip we took to New Brunswick in 1961 are heading into my personal archives.
:::

In the interest of trying new foods, these are steamed Okinawa sweet potatoes. They have a unique savory undertone in the expected flavor, and are chock full of extra nutritional anthocyanin goodness as witnessed by their VIVID purple color. Can you imagine a sweet potato pie made from these! This morning, another batch of candied peel was made, so another batch of quincemeat can happen tomorrow (once there are more raisins, and a pear) The tiny house fridge is now reconfigured for turkey defrosting. Only had to clear off half the interior, so may be able to avoid transferring all the food into a cooler for the rest of the week. Still, a fourteen pound bird is a rounded awkward thing, and a plinth to raise the fridge to a more helpful level may be moving higher on the priority list...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery * bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * ----------
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 candied peel * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Friday, November 21, 2014

almandine garnet syrup and other progress


in which our plucky heroine feels well preserved...

The quince juice and sugar took a long time to come to the jelly stage, and rather than end up with only a jar or two, opting for five small jars of syrup made more sense... Removing the cores and skins also removed some of the pectin, which would have made the set much quicker, but since the remainders are intended to become Quincemeat, not having core and seeds and skin was needful... nothing this delectable is ever wasted... imagine a drizzle of quince syrup over cardamon ice cream for example
:::

The embroidered decoration for Mindy's undergown is finished, and it has done a great job of disguising the tablecloth linen origin of the fabric... My goal is to have at least one garment apiece completed for each of the Blue Cedar House folks that will be coming here for Thanksgiving next week...
:::

Tonight the kitchen continues to smell heavenly, a warm spicy bulwark against the cold rain and howling wind outside. There are seven little jars of Quincemeat cooling down on the sideboard. What I did differently than the recipe was to substitute an additional quarter cup of chopped up dried apricots for the golden raisins, since they weren't available organic. The limiting factor for quincemeat is that it really needs home candied peel; I am thinking about some sort of sweet/spicy conserve with the several cups of cooked quince yet to play with, though this recipe for membrillo sounds both easy and tasty. And as the remaining three medlars have bletted, there are also a few tablespoons of medlar pulp, maybe comfits, or a wee jar of medlar-apple jam?
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery * bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * ----------
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Thursday, November 20, 2014

momentum hopefully forward


in which our plucky heroine makes quince jelly syrup and does some chores...

Thinking about air-dryed flannel sheets - so much more sweet-smelling than from the dryer. On the last clear day in a while, it seemed the perfect opportunity to hang laundry outside. I had forgotten that it will still dry well if it is sunny and COLD, but my conversation last week with Sharon C about her Mom hanging out laundry in Colorado in the wintertime reminded me to give it a try, and the sheets and duvet cover are greatly improved.
:::

Rarely does anything follow me home from Goodwill, since the ongoing effort here is to de-clutter. Still, every time I drop bags off there, the siren song calls me inside; this time there was this proto-sleeve-board, that actually filled a sewing room niche. This will need to have some nice padded covers made for the framework, but for $4.99 it seemed like a Very Useful Addition.
:::

Last night I did Something Bad to my already cranky left knee, when stepping down out of the Durango. It isn't preventing me from walking, but there is definitely something Not Quite Right going on. Am hoping that topical anti-inflammitory cream and needles on Friday will help. This is back almost but not quite to square zero again. What seems to happen is that when I feel functional, I don't pay attention to structure and ergonomics, or maybe I'm just clumsy...
:::

Though it entailed going shopping at Target downtown, which is never a favorite activity. the two additional tension curtain rods for bubblepack weatherisation have been acquired. Plus, if you ask at the customer service desk why the shelf price is higher than the "purchase in store" price on the website, they recalculate it to the lower price. I wonder how many folks don't think to ask?
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 quince syrup * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday snippets and Monday musings...


in which our plucky heroine is attempting to keep warm by jumping from one topic to another...


Making up various quince preserves always feels a bit like fairytale cookery: the delicious paradisical scent and the transformation from golden spheres into vivid red comestibles.
There will be jelly, even though didn't dig out a scalded cloth to use as a jelly bag, but instead simply strained the cooked chunks of quince from the liquid with a fine mesh screen, so it didn't come out clear as garnet, but more like jasper this time (Jelly or jam is easy when using something so high in pectin, simply an equal amount of sugar as juice, and cook till it tests as jelled, and put up with the usual sort of processing


There will also be quincemeat, which I never seem to have as much of as I'd like for holiday baking. I first found the idea in Nigella Lawson's "How To Be A Domestic Goddess", and have hence turned most of the quince that comes my way into sweet/savory little pies. The actual preserving will happen sometime later today, there won't be much, as only a few quince to start with; really, acquiring a quince tree for the backyard would be a wonderful thing...I have already written several times about things I like to do with quince:

.
what a difference cooking overnight makes...
:::

After covering three of the windows with bubblepack, using all three of the spring-fit curtain rods, my progress halted because I wanted to get two more for the other two large windows... Not only did the local Fred Meyers not have any in the size needed, but they have none at all in any Fred Meyers in the entire city! I already know that the local hardware store doesn't have any... Time to go on the hunt! The curtain rods allow for the application of bubblepack without resorting to sticking it in place with tape, which leaves a mess when removed, and damages the plastic - instead, a casing formed from extra bubblepack holds the curtain rod, which then holds the entire shebang neatly next to the window...
:::

Last week, when I misplaced my planner and bus pass, I needed to get another one, and given how late in the month it already was, ended up with a two week pass... well just washing the car to make it rain, my monthly pass and planner turned up the day after I bought the new one. Since I didn't need two bus passes, and since most of my pals are not eligible for the "honored citizen" pass, I gave away the new pass to someone at Loaves and Fishes (the meals on wheels site near the acupuncture office)... It was a nice day on Friday, cold but sunny, so walking back to the bus stop took me past "Good Food Here", a favorite food cart pod, and lo and behold, the Viking Soul Food cart has returned! Couldn't help but get a home cured salmon lefse wrap, so delicious with fresh greens, pickled shallots and dill cream fraiche! Friday was a good day.
:::

Thinking about SWAP timetable: about six weeks to prep, then eighteen weeks to complete: eleven coordinated garments, of which one may be previously sewn, one may be sewn between now and 26 December and the rest post 26 December (there is an option for also including a purchased garment, but that doesn't apply) So at least one garment every two weeks... Girl will be getting a lot of practice with timely sewing, since my plan includes a sort of double SWAP, both warm under/inner layers, and regular everyday clothing, and my sekrit dress sewing shindig... by the end of April I should have a mostly refurbished wardrobe, but hold onto your hats boys and girls, and fasten your seatbelts, because the sewing machines (and my hand stitchery) will be going like the wind!
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 * * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Saturday, November 15, 2014

warmer, a start


in which our plucky heroine makes slow progress against the chill winter...

One thing that does help against the howling wind which seems to pull any warmth away from the exterior, is insulation. While actually adding insulation to the walls is a Major Project, and despite the fact that the windows here are actually good thermal layered glass, since the windows are even more cold to the touch than the walls, Something Must Be Done...

I decided that adding at least one layer of clear bubblepack to as many windows as possible would be an inexpensive and simple way to make a difference (two layers would be even better) In the summer I cover some of the windows against the heat with mylar bubblepack insulation, but in the winter, more light really makes a difference, and the mylar is opaque.

It takes longer than I expected to tape together the bubblepack into large pieces to cover the window entirely, but since I've not been able to find any not already cut into one foot wide rolls, it is necessary. I use the scraps to form a channel at the top edge, and a spring loaded curtain rod to hold them in place. Hopefully it will make a difference in cutting down on the air convection and thereby cutting down on the interior cooling.

When I first moved here, I made Warm Window™ quilts, in the form of tidy roman shades, for the kitchen windows, but was horrified to find out years later that the spendy proprietary filling for them is not washable! That cured me of wanting to make more using the readymade window insulation, despite the fact that they do work quite well... Eventually I want to make window cornices, and possibly figure out a different sort of insulated window covering, more DIY and less labor intensive. There are some useful suggestions from the University of Maine. Another possibility is making wooden interior storm windows, that can have either clear (or mylar) insulative layers added as desired...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 * * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
9 * ---------- ----------
10 * ---------- ----------
11 * ---------- ----------
:::

Friday, November 14, 2014

an annotated and updated wishlist


...in which our plucky heroine observes how most of what is wished for "that can be given, involves more the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual stuff."

I seem to do this every year, in part because every year I take part in Dagmaer's annual Sekrit Santa Gift Exchange, and in part to help my memory be clear about what sorts of things would be helpful, so that if they show up by random chance, the ideas are not buried in the box room of my mind...
Since the requirements for the gift exchange are to keep the exchanged gift either handmade or if purchased to be $20 or less, it seemed a good idea to provide both general guidelines to what I like and do not like, as well as a modest annotated list of assorted Useful and Delightful things:

::: random wishlist notes :::

my favorite colors: The kind of blue that you get from indigo: nightsky and dark denim. The greyish color of natural linen. Taupe. Grey. Soft dull turquoise. The dark black brown of some kinds of undyed sheep wool. Bittersweet chocolate brown. Black.

I do not like chocolate, and am allergic to cherries and hazelnuts...

and have a bit of a weakness for those Japanese mugs with painterly cobalt and brown glaze, on a greyish stoneware background with little dark speckles. They are from the seventies maybe, I think, but not contemporary... this picture shows some that are currently living here, and I always keep my eyes open when thrifting in hope of finding more in this particular colorway...  like  this one

I mostly do not collect things, in particular I don't collect acorn kitsch, even though the house is named Acorn Cottage, nor do I collect chicken things, even though there are often hens in residence... I do collect maneki-neko that are under 1" tall, and have over the years found five, who sit nicely in a wasabi dish on the nightstand...

::: things under $20 :::
(in no particular order)

jewelers hand vise
Tool Girl can never have too many tools, and doesn't have a hand vise... Lee Valley is most reputable, and has a delicious selection of tools and trinkets...

DMT pocket diamond hones
These smaller pocket size hones would be very handy

*these vintage mugs, or this one, or this one, could be a good complement to the ones that already live here

an assortment of silk embroidery floss
This is the floss that I used on the Viking Collar project, and very nice floss indeed to work with - an assortment in my favorite deep to medium indigo blues would be a real treat!

Noro Kureyon
in the specific colorway #195, which is a discontinued colorway but a great favorite of mine. I love the rustic quality of Kureyon, and have used #195 to make a feather-and-fan shawlette back in '09

music by Wake The Dead
Their combination of celtic style instruments and arrangements, and Grateful Dead songs makes me really happy. Any of the three CD's would be a nice addition to the Acorn Cottage library: Wake The Dead, or Buckdancer's Choice, or Blue Light Cheap Hotel

Boxwood Storage Tubes
doesn't everyone love small containers... these look quite delectable

::: things more than $20 :::

this octopus wall hook has been on my radar for several years now. It would make an excellent addition to the bathroom here, and being made of cast aluminum instead of the usual cast iron, would be lighter on the wall and less likely to rust... besides the design of the textured tentacles is really elegant and well balanced.

an amazing piece of handweaving
Indigo, and Ikat, and Diamond twill, all in one!!

white floral scarf
bought one of their scarves a while back, they are a delicate cotton fabric and handprinted in India, this one is black on white, very reminiscent of Elizabethan artwork

DMT diamond files in coarse medium and extra fine
Earlier this year Mr Robertson and his lovely wife came to visit, and he showed me a bit of how to better care for the sharpness of my knives, using this tool...

::: rather more spendy, but also Very Useful, things :::

It would be a very good addition to the infrastructure here to acquire an extension ladder. One that is long enough to reach the gutters, or the attic hatchways, and strong enough for someone that weighs over 200 lbs... must needs do a bit more research as to what would be suitable

Hills Hoist rotary clothesline
Imagine my surprise to find that Costco carries the renowned Australian backyard clothesdryer. For three out of the four seasons of the year, outdoor drying in the backyard is possible...

Excalibur food dehydrator
I have several friends that own Excalibur food dehydrators, all quite happy with how useful they are...

stove tec rocket stove
This could be a good option for emergencies, and potentially for camping trips as well...


(anything not yet accomplished 
would still be a most welcome wish to be granted)

  1. company while sorting/organising supplies - the sewing room, and the workroom both need attention, and I make much better progress with someone else there to keep me company, is a lot more fun to sort fabric etc with the option for tea and chat...
  2. garden beds built/load of garden soil & compost acquired - a truck with an open bed, or money for a dumptruck load, and a number of strong shovel wielding folks. I have a plan, just need helpers.
  3. debris hauled away - this involves someone with a truck, and help going all round the outdoors of the homeplace, to remove everything that needs to not live here
  4. massage - for many years I had an ongoing every other week massage trade, housecleaning for bodywork; I miss that. Even a modest amount of attention paid to sorting out the knots and such that have accumulated in the last six  seven  ten years would help me a lot
  5. bicycle maintenance and tuneup - I have no experience with how to care for my bike, having only fairly recently started riding again. Would love to learn more, and know that the useful tool of bicycle will be adjusted and cared for properly
  6. standard concrete block - in sets of four or six... why, 'cos I have a number of plastic barrels destined for rainwater collection, and they work a lot better if they are elevated. Concrete is damn heavy to cart home on the bus.
  7. wooden kitchen cart - to add additional counter space here, will make having more than one cook in the kitchen a lot easier. FORHOJA has drawers for storage
  8. install the hard flooring - this is a big project only because it involves removing the entire contents of each of the two bedrooms before the flooring can go down. Probably a weekend for each room, one day to move stuff out, one day to put flooring down and move stuff back in (just a guess, the rooms are pretty small, but there is a lot of stuff. Or...
  9. wooden shelves on the walls in bedroom and sewing room - more shelving will allow better storage of fabrics and other supplies, as well as guest bedding
  10. cross country train trip in a sleeper car - I want to visit my friends and family in New England, I love train travel, and it would be an adventure instead of an ordeal.

Hmmmm, progress towards these goals is slow, but incremental progress is still progress...  #7 and #9 were completed back in  2011 and 2012. #10 happened this spring, much to my delight! In addition, the building or acquisition of a proper clothesline setup is a vital addition to this list, though a much improved clothes drying line was cobbled together this year, and someday insulation in the walls, though that is a HUGE project indeed... There has been some improvement on #4, as I am now getting regular acupuncture treatments, which have done a great deal of good for my physical situation. The efforts of my Blue Cedar House friends have also done a lot to help with the infrastructure projects here... life continues to improve.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

snowpocalyplse, not exactly


in which our plucky heroine revises her plans...

So, it suddenly got very cold here... like in the last six weeks or so it went from mid eighties to mid thirties. Today we are getting what was on the forecast; earlier indeed ice pellets fell from the sky, and now it is snowing. Why is this relevant? Because the weather made me realise that it would be much more useful for me to do a winter 6PAC*of a different sort, one intended to help keep me warm!

I had originally intended to simply have my winter 6PAC be subsumed in my 2015 SWAP**;  I will probably still also make the clothing that is in my SWAP, but I need at least some of these sooner, indeed, if I had them already, they would be in use now! This would be truly useful, as the few pieces I have in this category get worn and worn every day, but I don't think about them until it gets cold...

The two bottoms would be bloomers/capri length pants, since I wear boots all winter long, and full length pants get draggled with the rain. The two under-layers would be slip-dresses. I made one of these last year, from a tank top joined to an embroidered skirt from Goodwill, and it was a perfect additional layer to wear under my everyday dress and pinafore, since it was just barely long enough for the embroidered edging to show at the hemline... If I had a few more of these, they would be worn often. The outer layers could be a cowl neck top, and a bed jacket for chilly nights when I want to sit in bed and read...

*6PAC = a seasonal online sewing challenge, to create six basic garments each quarter-year, which was created and elaborated by Elizabeth (known on Stitchers Guild as ejvc, and found online at The Fabulous Dr. E's Fabulous Blog)
**SWAP = Sewing With A Plan, an annual online sewing challenge on the Stitchers Guild message board, to create an 11 piece coordinated wardrobe; the rules change a bit every year, just to keep things interesting...
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photo courtesy of Outlandish Photography
This is a bit better picture that shows the collar I embroidered, as part of the whole ensemble as worn by the King of the Outlands at his coronation last weekend.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine tries not to crack up: less than six weeks ago it was 85F, later this week it is forecast to be in the low 30's with "ice pellets"... I might just break into pieces from thermal shock

Currently am playing with some of the design elements from the Valsgarde embroidery, to use as decoration on an underdress for Mindy of Blue Cedar House; the linen for cuffs and neckline facing was indigo dyed by Freydis, embroidery by me...
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Bought a big blue speckeldy enamel roasting pan, so I will be prepared to cook turkey for the many house guests later this month. Goodwill is my friend, in more than one sense of the word. I thought I already had one, but the nice big roaster I thought I had was really a nice big baking tin with shallow sides, useful for many things but not suitable for large birds...

Did an exponential leap... last Saturday 11058 was how many steps I took (almost four miles) I suspect that if I spent all day alternating between walkabout and sitting at this level all the time, it would be like when I went to France on vacation for two weeks and lost fifteen pounds without trying to. I am tired, and today I am really feeling how much walking I did this weekend at OryCon, my left knee is being crankypants, but the mere fact that I was able to walk that much is encouraging. My goal is to gently and kindheartedly do what I can to increase my stamina, if possible to the level it was at before my cancer journey began...
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the medlars are beginning to ripen - I have scooped out the squashy brown flesh and put it in the freezer, as each one has only a few teaspoons-worth. Yes I tasted it first, it is sort of vaguely apple-ish in a "tastes like chicken" way, and somewhat tart. I'm not getting the spicey-applesauce flavor that some have mentioned. It does seem like a good sort of "emergency wintertime fruit" but I am not feeling the immediate love that I had when I encountered quince for the first time...
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November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery * *
2 Mindy cuffs * *
3 * * ----------
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
8 * ---------- ----------
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11 * ---------- ----------
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Monday, November 10, 2014

the (sekrit) Viking collar project


in which our plucky heroine documents both the process and the hours involved in creating embroidered decoration...

(begun October 18th) I am not quite sure perzactly how I ended up working on this, since I have no affiliation whatsoever with the intended recipient. However, my friend K was coordinating this project... While I received the fabric for the collar several weeks ago, the package of floss didn't arrive 'til Wednesday the 15th, and Saturday the 18th the dimensions that the collar embroidery needs to fill, so could finally start on plotting out the pattern and marking it on the fabric; my part in the work needs be complete by November 1, as the whole project will be en route on November 6...

The design motif is based on the embroidery from the Valsgarde find*; while the original is in silver thread on red silk, this embroidery will be in silk thread on linen. The design will be filled in with green and gold (outlined in dark brown) as green and gold are the colors of the Kingdom of the Outlands; this embroidery is a part of a much larger project being made as Coronation clothing...

The preparation of the embroidery pattern, drawing the repeat in a size appropriate to the collar, and transferring the design to tracing paper so as to be able to stitch through it onto the linen, then basting it into place on the fabric took two hours...

I decided that couching the outline of the motifs in place first would allow me to then remove the paper backing and fill the motifs with color; this is my standard practice when doing freehand embroidery, as it does not leave any residue in or on the fabric to cause difficulty later

This shows a portion of the collar motifs with the backing removed, now ready to be filled with the green and gold silk... (This much couching so far has taken three hours, so the estimated amount for the outlining of the motifs on the collar will be twelve hours, which added to the prep will likely bring the total before adding color to estimated fourteen hours) Hand embroidery is not fast work, but it looks eversomuch better than any other option.

Couched design outline on collar completed, ready for green and gold silk embroidered fill. Total hours so far, fifteen and a half...

Starting the color fill embroidery on the collar, using outline stitch for a smoother effect than more couching would give, to try and take advantage of the subtly reflective aspect of the silk floss. Filling all the "buds" in yellow took two and a half hours. The amount of green "vine" filling done so far took just over another hour. Total so far nineteen hours (estimated additional time eight plus hours, will see how that works out, plus am hoping that there will be enough of the green floss)

Just as suspected, there was not enough of the darker green floss to complete the embroidery...total time so far is 26 and a half hours, with three more motifs left to fill, once more floss arrives. (remember that I am participating in this as a volunteer, and was not involved in procuring supplies)

Finished November 2nd, total hours spent 31 hours! Nonetheless, the project itself was both pleasant and educational; was the first time working with silk floss instead of either wool or cotton, and the particular floss was quite cooperative (unlike what I had imagined), and keeping track of hours spent will allow me to do more accurate estimates** should embroidery be desired for future work or work/trade.


photo credit: Khalja Khorkhoi
The new King and Queen of the Outlands: their clothing is a true tour-de-force of many volunteer hours and many people working together, most of the decoration is also done by hand, the embroidery is handstitched, the printed fabric of their garments is hand block-printed, the woven trim is made using tablet-weaving, her shawl is handwoven, and his pleated wool trousers and her pleated linen undershift and pleated and block printed silk back-train were hand pleated and steamed. The collar I made, attached to the herringbone linen undertunic, is just barely visible at the neckline of the King's coat - one small part of a much larger project...
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*Silk Collar, 10th century. 51 x 6 cm, 'Samitium' (weft-faced compund twill), Embroidery thread silver foil S-spun around silk core. From Valsgärde grave 15, Uppsala, Sweden.

**At my normal rates for metalwork, enameling, or custom sewing, thirty-one hours would cost just under $800

Thursday, November 6, 2014

upper half hijinks, or time for TNT


There is a plan afoot to create some new TNT pattern pieces, which will lead to our plucky heroine having more options as far a wardrobe constituents...

I decided to go ahead and participate in SWAP 2015, and this years rules will necessitate making a bodice pattern that will work for various garments in woven fabric. I want a blouse, actually I want the option of making assorted blouse-like clothes. I started a topic on Stitchers Guild: a blouse for indigotiger to gather information and to keep track of progress. My most recent attempt at a blouse, back in 2013, involved nothing more complicated that cutting off my dress pattern at blouse length, and was functional but not particularly attractive. I'd like the options of both a button front instead of a pullover top, and various collar and neckline treatments.

And a bodice pattern would be able to be altered to become a jacket. I think a moto-style jacket would be fun, an alternative to a jean-style jacket. This has been on my mind for quite a while, since I have been collecting "moto-mania", a whole small Pinterest page with images that I like.

I am beginning to have a basic idea of what I want to create, to refurbish my wardrobe, during the next six months. These clothes will either fill in gaps in my overall plan, or will replace garments that are worn out. I am seeing a moderate increase in brown, as opposed to the all black/all indigo channel, and my new choice of accent color is a soft turquoise...
SWAP + 6PACEVERYDAY DRESSES ACCESSORIES
  indigo floral print voile blouse
  pale blue horse print blouse
  brown mushroom print blouse
  *brown chambray blouse
  *black/cream hemp knit top
  *black pinafore
  indigo pinafore
  *brown pinafore
  *black raincoat
  *brown jacket
  (wildcard) garment
  black/blue ikat
  black/blue seersucker
  black/grey/blue stripe
  dk blue/blue linen
  blue pinstripe
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  Fox Paws scarf
  indigo hat
  acorn enamel brooch
  sewing tools necklace
  (wildcard) purse
  (wildcard) tote bag
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