Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SMART goals matrix


... in which our plucky heroine examines progress made in 2014...

On the last day of 2013, my thoughts were on how to begin making the needful changes to have a life congruent with my intentions. "While there are a lot of aspects of life I've no idea how to shift, these three are ones already within my skillset, and like any other part in need of strengthening, repetition should make a difference..."

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals. Training theory says that X-ing out tickey-boxes is a Useful Signal and helps in changing habits. Realistically, the combination of a monthly active chart, and a larger whole year chart that was filled in every month with progress, did work well to encourage active effort to move forward over the course of the year.

It was surprising to me that I was successful in maintaining my motivation over the whole year, and tempting to simply continue the identical plan into 2015 (if it isn't broken don't fix it). The chart is full, not specifically with the exact items I expected. I included various projects that were done with help. That I am developing an ongoing relationship of mutual assistance with Blue Cedar House is a great pleasure for which I am incredibly grateful. That Kateline has been helping me with my decluttering has made that part of what I want to do possible. Some of my projects are large, some are small, and some were accounted one project when they actually encompassed several or many parts. My choice was to not be rigidly precise in how the various entries were logged, but to put attention on gently moving forward.


rising 60: a year long SMART goals challenge
#THINGS MADETHINGS FIXEDTHINGS GONE
1 2 Goutte medallions  planner calendar pagesbag to Goodwill
2 2 Jambe medallions  6mo EBT paperwork bag to paper recycling 
3 Pomegranate Laurel  leather sewing thimble   bag to paper recycling 
4fingertipless glovesfront yard trees prunedbag to paper recycling
5black owl pendantapple tree prunedbag to Goodwill
6Roman broochesrivet head micro anvil yardwaste branches
7sample transparent redsnew yard rake handleyardwaste branches
8knitted pouch,
green ramshorn
I: medallion bidyardwaste branches
9knitted pouch,
multicolor
D.M. coronet bidyardwaste branches
10B: SCA trewsAnTir Crowns bidbag to Goodwill
11U: medallion settinggutter clog clearedbag to Goodwill
12not-right golden LaurelFederal taxesyardwaste branches
13the right golden LaurelState taxesbackyard yardwaste
14knitted pouch,
octopodian
side yard
clothesline
bag to paper recycling
15black one-wire Laurelpegs on
coatrack
bag to paper recycling
16charted knitting
design
underdress
sleeves
bag to paper recycling
17bone needleCR regalia metal scrap to recycling
18new green
underdress
SR silver chainbag to Goodwill
19sports brabackyard meadow
mowed
bag to Goodwill
20crescent Laurel
medallion
half craftwall
organised
bag to paper recycling
21thread-winderssleeve bands
on green gown
bag to Goodwill
22red rose
heart pendant
SPQR pendant
setting
bag to Goodwill
23red rose earringscraftwall
organised
bag to paper recycling
242nd sports braworkbench
cleared
bag to paper recycling
25duvet coverSR brooch settingbag to paper recycling
26embroidered
red horses
setting for one
Anglo Saxon enamel
bag to paper recycling
27nine tiny enamelshem on red silk gownbag to Goodwill
28green silk gown for Ugreen undergown mendedbag to Goodwill
291st wool cardweavingbicycle area clearedbag to Goodwill
30blue Pel LaurelLED switch repairedcardboard recycled
31two orb enamelspaper wasp nest destroyedcardboard recycled
32wooly pony embroidery2nd wasp nest destroyed bag to Goodwill
33third orb enamelparking strip planter improvedcardboard recycled
341st Pegasus embroiderynorth side yard clearedyardwaste
35tunic muslin for Bbathroom sink attachedfabric to Goodwill
36gown muslin for Mbathroom wall repairedbag to Goodwill
372nd Pegasus embroiderybroken toilet seat replacedyard waste bin
382 very tiny
Roman enamels
towel holder attachedyard waste bags
398 Roman buttonsSCA closet reorganisedRebuilding Center
40sample for Fox Pawscarport clearedpaper to Shredfest
41gown muslin for Lshelves in SCA closetbag to Goodwill
42bra pattern for Bherb planter improvedbag to Goodwill
43sports-bra for Bhousefront plantings
mulched and weeded
yardwaste bin
44Norse embroidery patterndisassemble and clean
venerable box fan
5 yardwaste bags
45Norse collar embroiderysewing machine shelffunky red dresser
46Mindy cuffs embroiderysalad table baseold baby stroller
47Quince syrup - 5 jarssmall raised bedclay flowerpots
48Quincemeat - 7 jarswall anchored lumber4 Goodwill bags
49Mindy yoke embroideryshower handpiece holder2 paper recycling
50candied peel3 bubblepack curtains1 paper recycling
51Quincemeat - 7 jarsfingerless gloves mended4 Goodwill bags
52Mindy undergownhem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
cardboard boxes
53red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
new printer cableyardwaste bin
54grey slip-dressshower handpiece
encased in rubber
broken cot
55two kitty face
needlebooks
black pinafore edges
new bias binding
bag to Goodwill
56four more kitty
needlebooks
new furnace filterbag to Goodwill
57acorn ornamentdeodorise teak bowlrecycle bin full
58sekrit santa giftre-attach downspout1 paper recycling
59looper potholdercarved oak plugs
for kitchen beam
bag to Goodwill
60wool Laurel
cardweaving
two bubblepack curtainsthree bags full
recycle and trash

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

random Tuesday tidbits


... in which our plucky heroine gets all experimental...

hmmm 29F outside, dry and windy... I am going to try freeze-drying my laundry, because anything that helps the utility bill be lower this month will be a good thing. The thinner sheets seemed to dry quickly, the everyday pinafores simply froze into a cartoonish flat piece. I imagine that the wind will gradually cause the moisture to sublimate.
:::

White chocolate is weird. It seems as disinclined to melt as non dairy cheese on pizza. I tried my usual standard melt in the microwave, which burned the middle and left the rest solid. Now I have it in a pan in the oven. Why am I messing with it at all: because I want to make peppermint bark for the neighbors, since my other confections are not child-friendly... I found a bag of white chocolate chips in the pantry, and combined with giveaway candy canes from New Seasons, I was inspired. Never made candy bark before, and maybe should have looked at some recipes first. I figured "how difficult could it be to melt chocolate"... live and learn!

While baking is really like chemistry, some confectionery is not quite so specific. I am waiting for the second layer of dark chocolate to cool so I can cut the bark into pieces, fingers crossed that it will hold together...
Voila! it isn't what I expected, but it is quite delicious... there were plenty of shattered fragments to taste, to make sure I wasn't gifting something less that tasty!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

plugging away...


...in which our plucky heroine corrects a small subtle detail, but one that I have been meaning to deal with for a long time...

One of the smaller fix-it tasks on my list is a cosmetic rather than structural detail: to fill the screw holes that are holding the oak beam to the wall above the stove, the beam that holds up my forged iron pot rack. There are twelve screws attaching it to the wall studs (the combined weight of the cooking pots and pans is considerable), and the holes are not a size that matches pre-made plugs, or that matches standard doweling.

Instead, an oak dowel larger than the desired diameter is cut into half inch lengths, with the one end rounded over smoothly and the other end tapered to a suitable width (19/64ths). A subtle difference but a crucial one, and requiring careful whittling skill. Fortunately I have a sharp knife...the Mora knife (aka my SCA belt knife) is the best one for shaping the tiny oak pegs... after rounding and sizing half a dozen, my hands and wrists say... take a break!
:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
paper recycling
2 grey slip-dress new printer cable bag to Goodwill
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
shower handpiece
encased in rubber
three bags full
recycle and trash
4 four more kitty
needlebooks
 black pinafore edges
new bias binding
----------
5 acorn ornament new furnace filter ----------
6 sekrit santa gift deodorise teak bowl ----------
7 looper potholder re-attach downspout ----------
8 wool Laurel
cardweaving
carved oak plugs
for kitchen beam
----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Perhaps a bit hard to see, but the top photo shows what the beam looks like with just the countersunk screws, and the lower photo shows some finished pegs in place...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday snippets - a Painted Enameling workshop


... in which our plucky heroine spends two days teaching a private workshop on using painting enamels...

This most recent time teaching Introduction to Painting Enamels, only one person signed up for the class, so she basically had a two day long private lesson, (even a full class only has four students, so there is always plenty of personal attention) and made excellent use of her opportunity:
She decided to work on two different painted enamel projects. Here you see her avian inspiration, her sketch, and a partially completed enamel

and because it is always better to work on more than one enamel at the same time, to better utilise the kiln while waiting for one piece to be either drying out or cooling down... she is also making this larger piece, a portrait of one of her cats.

Partway through the process, as the cat portrait is gradually taking shape. The painting enamels have their own aesthetic, more impressionistic than cloisonné. In some ways folks find it slightly more accessible than other styles of enamel, as most of us have had at least some experience with using a paintbrush, though it does handle rather differently then ordinary paint. But even a large piece like this is still pretty small, and requires a light and delicate handing of the brush.

By the end of the two day workshop, Zenobia finished these two enamels... the cat portrait, at just over 2" in diameter, will be framed as a small piece of wall art, and the bird enamel will probably be set as a pendant or brooch. I am mightily impressed with her designs, productivity, and how well she was able to translate her ideas into these beautiful pieces...
:::

While wearing my teacher hat, it helps to have a project to work on that demonstrates the processes being taught, so adding another charm to the "time is a dressmaker" jewel was exactly right. This charm pendant was begun months ago, and at this point all that still needs done is to fabricate a tiny thread spool (the final charm), drill the holes and attach the charms and the actual necklace to the carved bone measuring tape. If you look closely, the second bit on the right is a new tiny painted enamel, with the image of a dress form...


Friday, December 26, 2014

courant reguardant...


in which our plucky heroine continues forward momentum whilst informed with knowledge of the past...

When thinking about where my efforts could do the most good in building a life that makes sense, actually the word that seem the most relevant/resonant is the equitation term "extension". Which is the obverse of "collection", being, as I understand it, two different modes of moving forward. Extension is a way of stretching forward with impulsion, while remaining relaxed. By gradually experimenting with how far you can go out of your comfort zone, you will improve, as when learning to sing, you gradually are able to reach both higher and lower notes.

I have both some specific and an assortment of theoretical goals for next year, for both my textile/sewing and metalwork/enameling selves, but more on that in future posts. Today marks the starting line for SWAP 2015, though Boxing Day here at Acorn Cottage will be all about a private workshop teaching painting enamel for the next two days; and a good way to delve back into my temporarily neglected glass on metal projects.

Had another idea for a small fixit project that could be done before the end of the year: carving oak pegs for fitting in the screw holes in the oak wall beam that holds up the pot rack. And soon will have all the pieces cut out and instructions written up to mail stitchery packages to Mrs Eccentric and Luz Clara. Indeed mind and hands are all fizzy and eager to be doing and making!

What a lot of cleanup finally done, another four racks of dishes finally saw the end of the party dishes! The kitchen is small, with a small dish-dry rack, and no machinery. Now the kitchen is back to it's usual, and there is a modest pile of clean serving ware to be returned to friends, when next we are in one place. The success of Saturnalia is inspiring thoughts of The Return of Weekend Crafternoons...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

some assorted holiday music...


from Acorn Cottage does our plucky heroine send Holiday Greetings to friends far and wide... wishing for all some bright and festive spirit to sparkle in your lives... however and whatever you celebrate, may the light shine for each and all of us!


Gower Wassail - Steeleye Span


Run Rudolph Run - Grateful Dead


Wassail Song - Albion Dance Band


Ring Out Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull


The Christians and the Pagans - Dar Williams


Christmas in the Trenches - John McCutcheon


Old Hippie Christmas - The Bellamy Brothers

:::

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

wishful Wednesday - a glimmer of new goals


in which our plucky heroine, in the midst of keeping busy, is beginning to cogitate long thoughts, as the dark days of winter often encourage, as the year wheel trundles on...

The 2014 year-long  SMART* goal challenge, soon to be completed, has been an excellent way to maintain focus, and am wondering in what way to continue that in the year to come. There is certainly enough to-do here that would fill another entire year-chart. I've the desire to also further my professional life (which has been sorely neglected for the last several years). Decades ago I asked for a life that made sense, which then and now has always meant to me a life not chopped into pieces, but a life where the making of things and the sharing of knowledge is a tidal sea that moves between me and the bright world. Rather a roundabout way to say that I don't want a separate category added for "art-making". Not sure what to call the need for expansion beyond comfort, leaping out of the self-made box, while at the same time deepening awareness and contracting into strength. The girl with the Huge Vocabulary is at a loss for words...

Alongside all that, have been making a concerted effort to move forward on the "things fixed" category for 2014, given the limitations of time and money at present. While some of these are quite small in scope, they are all things that make a big difference in one way or another:

The shower handpiece fits into a plastic housing where the pipe comes out of the wall. The original plastic piece lasted less than five years before splitting in two, and the replacement part was not quite the exact same size, but a fraction of an inch larger in diameter, so that when the handpiece was set in place it rotated outward, spraying water out into the room instead of in the desired direction! Not okay. After much thought, it occurred to me that a useful shim could be made from discarded bicycle inner tube, which most all bike shops will give away for free. Initially my intention was to somehow lash or glue a strip of the tubing to the handpiece, but when I brought it home, the Very Simple Solution was to run warm water over a bit of the inner tube, until it could be stretched over the end of the joining ferrule, having first removed the actual shower head. Trim the ends evenly, reassemble, and voila, problem solved! The shower handpiece now stays in the exact location as placed!

Clothes mending counts as fixing, so replacing the worn binding on the black vertical pique pinafore will have it back in everyday rotation once again. I added a row of the same black corduroy bias along the hemline edge, so that the difference in material looks intentional, a vintage repair style tip. The fabric this pinafore is made from is one I have only ever seen this one time, I love it very much and hope for a number of additional years of wear.

At Project Night a clever suggestions had me add furnace filter to the list, and a good thing too. Was an easy fix but a most needful one. I am going to write in on the calendar when to change it during the year. The furnace only runs for five months or less, so that is a change it two times a year, but best not forget...

Early this year, my beloved teak bowl had an Unfortunate Encounter with an orange. I tried the technique of soaking paper towels with white vinegar, "plaster" them all over the inside of the bowl, then let the vinegar evaporate. It made a significant difference in how the inside of the bowl smells. No longer musty/moldy like rotten orange, but somewhat like vinegar and slightly floral?  My thought is to turn the box into a period sewing kit, by building a wooden lid for it, and some leather hinges, but that is a project for next year...

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
paper recycling
2 grey slip-dress new printer cable bag to Goodwill
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
shower handpiece
encased in rubber
*
4 four more kitty
needlebooks
 black pinafore edges
new bias binding
----------
5 acorn ornament new furnace filter ----------
6 sekrit santa gift deodorise teak bowl ----------
7 looper potholder re-attach downspout ----------
8 wool Laurel
cardweaving
* ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely

Monday, December 22, 2014

say you're going to a party party, or Io Saturnalia at Acorn Cottage


in which our plucky heroine fills Acorn Cottage with merriment (and foodstuffs)

So yesterday as well as being the solstice is also my natal day, many times over. In response, my pal SR and I decided to have a Saturnalia party, as she is most partial to the life and times of ancient Roman culture, and our plucky heroine is often up for a themed party. Unfortunately, I took no photos of us dressed in our Roman clothing, but there was quite the feast set out for folks to enjoy.

Over the afternoon, there were up to seventeen people in this tiny cottage at one time, and it became so warm that opening the windows to regulate the temperature was necessary! Some lovely thoughtful birthday gifts found their way here, but the best gift of all was to have dear friends around, with good conversations, and conviviality!

 oh look, tiny sunwheels (quincemeat tartlets
that are about the size of a half dollar coin)


about two thirds of the Saturnalia feast
(also there were hot things on the sideboard)


my friend Ursel decorated Peeps especially for the occasion...

The bacon baklava was a HUGE success! I was thinking that it might be one of those "put bacon in all the things whether it is a good idea or not" foods, but I really liked the way the not-too-salty bacon played nicely with the nuts and the orange flavored syrup. It was an instance of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. I think if it had been one of the very strongly salted and smoked bacon it might have been overwhelming and not in a good way. This was my first time making baklava at all, and it won't be the last, with or without bacon...
:::

Tri-Met's new "beta" trip planner site sent me a mile out of my way today, and since I am pretty much completely unfamiliar with SW I didn't realise it until I had already left the bus! That was a lot more walking along busy SW Macadam at dusk than I liked. The young woman answering the Tri-Met phone was apologetic, particularly after she input the data and got the same odd less-than-useful result.

The good news is that after spending most of the day on the bus going from place to place in search of the illusive adapter cable to allow my newish computer and venerable printer to speak together, not only has progress happened on my Fox Paws knitting, my walkies total for the day is up in my top ten, and best of all, a three dollar salvaged part from Green Century Electronics Recycling has improved the tech situation here at Acorn Cottage...
:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress new printer cable *
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
shower handpiece
encased in rubber
*
4 four more kitty
needlebooks
 black pinafore edges
new bias binding
----------
5 acorn ornament * ----------
6 sekrit santa gift * ----------
7 looper potholder * ----------
8 wool Laurel
cardweaving
* ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Saturday, December 20, 2014

turn turn turn


"And so the Shortest Day came
and the year died.
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year."

~ Susan Cooper

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday fabulousity and fragments


in which our plucky heroine begins preparing in earnest for the party on Sunday, which will celebrate my birthday/Saturnalia/Solstice/Green Wood Horse Year. Indeed it is an entire turning of the Great Wheel of the Chinese zodiac from the year of my birth, and great good fortune to have made it this far.

:::

The bad news is that in reading the recipe for bacon baklava, our plucky heroine read the part that said "9 x 13 rectangular pan" but forgot that all the pans in the house, save the turkey roaster, are smaller than that; the good news is that most of the baking hardware aisle in Fred Meyers was on sale for 50% off today.
:::

Started baking for Saturnalia by mixing up a batch of savillum... While most recipes I have read call for wheat flour, this variation, made with bulgar wheat instead, was a standard breakfast in our camp during the first years I was active in the SCA; it is easy to make ahead, is really filling, and has a substantial amount of protein... bulgar and ricotta and eggs oh my, plus honey and poppy seeds.

It is much easier than pie, requiring the cook to simply mix all the ingredients together and then bake at 350F until done, about 30 minutes more or less depending on the pan used. Because this is intended as party tidbits rather than hearty breakfast, a thinner layer was desirable, and I lined the baking pan with parchment paper, in the hope of not sticking. As soon as it comes out of the oven, drizzle some honey over the top, spread the honey out across gently, and then dust with poppy seeds. The quantities are not super precise: about 15 to 16 oz ricotta, one or two eggs, a scant cup of honey, and a generous cup of bulgar, with a little more honey and some poppy seeds.
:::

This is what our plucky heroine found after all the boxes on the front porch were unpacked!

the first box said "Live Plants"... someone (hi Mom!) took it to heart when I mentioned entering my second childhood

The second box contained this very large double wall cooking pot, and rather gave me a clue as to what might be in the other boxes, but no clue as to who the mystery sender might be...

The third box held a green five gallon bucket. I foresee a rearrangement of the SCA/camping closet

The final, and heaviest box contained a Stove-Tec rocket stove, the deluxe model with two doors and a grate that allows for burning either wood or charcoal. Whoo Hoo! Now I can set up a temporary outdoor kitchen (or natural dyeing using my regular dyepots?!) space in the carport and have crafternoon/cookouts!! (and it will be excellent earthquake emergency cooking gear too)
:::
Just in case anyone is eager to attempt weaving leafy Laurel wreath trim, this is the weaving draft for the just finished project. Found on Guntrum's site, but graphed out in the style of Applesies and Foxnoses - turn forwards except in the parts of the graph with a grey background

:::



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

weaving Wednesday



...in which our plucky heroine completes a project long on the loom...

Last night, finished the Laurel trim, tablet-woven from wool using irregular turning sequence; my second wool tablet weaving (and the final project in the "making things" category of my 2014 Rising 60 SMART goal challenge )
Here is the whole length of the weaving, just about 52 inches long...
... and a closer view of the leafy Laurel motif; am quite happy with how using lighter and darker green for the leaves gives a slight dimensionality to the design.
edit: Oh my, I just actually looked at my selvedges here, and wondered WTF? for most of the weaving I did the selvedges just turning all in one direction, not back and forth at all, and those are the nice ones seen in the back rows... the selvedge in the front, the ones that look so messy, those I did by NOT turning all in one direction, but by turning along with the rest of the tablets in pattern. Fortunately it is less than a foot of the total band, and will be mostly hidden in the stitching when it is applied. Chalk it up to a learning experience, a good case of compare and contrast, and a reminder to read the gorram weaving draft!

In the most recent bundle of fabric from my friend Claire was a dresslength of wool her mother wove!, in stripes of two shades of green, which will make a warm and pretty Viking Age apron-dress, this trim will hopefully be a suitable embellishment as well as a subtle form of regalia. Am considering hand sewing the dress, as a way to honor the handwoven character of the fabric ... but that is a project for 2015.

The next two weeks, in addition to both regular work and holiday preparations, not to mention the upcoming "start your sewing machines" beginning of SWAP 2015 on Boxing Day, I need to find eight, at least six, more "fix all the things" projects that can realistically be done with the time and resources currently available. I REALLY want to complete all three categories of my year-long challenge.
:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress * *
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
* *
4 acorn ornament * ----------
5 four more kitty
needlebooks
* ----------
6 sekrit santa gift * ----------
7 looper potholder * ----------
8 wool Laurel
cardweaving
* ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Monday, December 15, 2014

loop de loop


in which our plucky heroine revisits childhood, indeed there are those who think she never left there in the first place...

When my pal Marya showed up at our table at Yulenage a' Trois (Tri-Barony Yule Feast) with one of these iconic woven objects, and said that this was an activity in the children's room, I lost no time in following her back there. One of my earliest weaving memories is of loopers on a square loom, and there was a whole table of loops and an assortment of looms, and several other adults as well as youngsters enjoying the simple pleasure. Illaria had brought bags full of loops she cut from clean singleton or worn socks, so there was quite a variety of colors to pick from; my potholder has all the colors to match my kitchen. 
:::

Finished the sekrit santa project but cannot post photos, since it is, well, sekrit...
:::

There is very little in the way of hard alcohol that I find particularly enjoyable straight up, preferring my booze as an ingredient rather than a beverage, and apparently I am not the only one that feels this way:

:::


December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress * *
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
* *
4 acorn ornament * ----------
5 four more kitty
needlebooks
* ----------
6 sekrit santa gift * ----------
7 looper potholder * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday snippets


... in which our plucky heroine attempts to both catch up on missed sleep and increase forward momentum, as there is just a wee bit more than two weeks to complete my SMART goals challenge...
:::

This time of year fresh seasonal grapefruit begins to appear in the markets. I particularly like the ones that are all rosy on the outside and red on the inside...
My food album looks as if most of what I do in the kitchen is play with citrus peelings. This is grapefruit peel; so photogenic with the light behind it! I find that if it is blanched thrice, it isn't necessary to cut away the thick white parts, which eventually turn to beautiful translucent bittersweet candy that I love far more than chocolate...
:::

My SCA heraldic device change passed, it now reflects my personal symbolism more precisely. The running horse that is the main charge on my arms has been a personal icon for decades, the acorn with oak leaves for almost as long. My life consists of moving forward while remaining cognizant of the past, both personally and in my artistry. Regarding the acorn ...
"The oak sleeps in the acorn ... Dreams are the seedlings of realities."
- James Allen
:::

for some reason this photo reminds me of the charts we made back in high school biology class about inherited traits, when we were studying genetics... but instead it is four more kitty face needlebooks, ready to go to their forever homes. The grey cat is also going to get a companion tape measure case: a mouse with the tail being the tape measure. That will be a treat to design and make!
:::

Am attempting to allow playtime to occur as it will (when not interrupting time-bound activities), and today some time spent just fooling around with felt and floss...

:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress * *
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
* *
4 acorn ornament * ----------
5 four more kitty
needlebooks
* ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday fragments


First two of the kitty-face needle books are completed and will be are on the way to their forever home today. I made it to the post office just before they were closing for the evening.

They do look quite dapper, particularly after a trip to the ironing board, which smooths all the stitching out, rather like blocking knitwear. Using wool or wool/rayon felt makes all the difference, both in making them up and in how they feel, rather like the difference between butter and margarine. These are "gourmet" needlebooks... I am looking forward to making a portrait needlebook for my neighbor Molly; will be visiting her soon to meet her cat.
:::
Decided after dinner to make a rather speedy acorn and oak leaf ornament, using free machine embroidery on three layers of wool felt. Because sometimes it is necessary to just play with the materials, rather than the usual highly specific and controlled artistry. Sometimes it becomes really transparent that I don't play enough. Not sure how to shift that, or to encourage self to move in that direction, without it becoming yet another task...

:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress * *
3 two kitty face
needlebooks
* *
4 acorn ornament * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday and other tidbits...


... in which you see our plucky heroine (in the back) and her little sister picking berries by the side of the road....

Whilst sorting through random papers, found a travel journal from when I was seven, from an iconic family trip to New Brunswick. Along with pieces of seaweed, and my lost tooth, both stuck to the fragile manila paper with Scotch tape, were three square photographs. One of us dwarfed by rock formations at Hopewell Cape, one of a house on fire, and this charming image. Shall have to acquire some safe clear envelopes to put these in, as I have very vivid memories of that trip, and this is memorabilia to be saved. We spent a number of days camping and attending the New Brunswick School of Craft, where my father did wood-turning, my mother did enameling on copper, and I made baskets. Though the baskets and the enameled horse are long lost in the mists of time, the bowl and platter, turned from birdseye maple, remain treasured possessions. That trip was the first time I knew that enamels were made by real people, not just part of machinery and vehicles.
:::

Apparently the intrepid Ruth, Peter and Tom are at it again! How did I find out, but by reading the blog Hibernaatiopesäke where Mervi (famed for "Applesies and Foxnoses") wrote about a trip from Finland to England to help sew the clothing for the BBC series "Secrets of the Castle"...
:::

Years ago when preparing to graduate college, with no desire to pay money to rent a "cap and gown" made from green polyester (which seemed the very antithesis of both my ethics and lifestyle) our plucky heroine stitched up a tunic in gemlike colors, but mostly green printed rayon, and wore that over a black skirt? instead. Over the years, the tunic became part of a summer dress, which then ended up (where else) but in the stash of bits and bobs that fill far too much of the sewing space. While hunting for slip-dress ingredients, it came to light, and surely, with only a bit of adaptation, can easily take on a third life as a slip-dress, all that is needed is to cut away and bind the armscye and neckline. Nothing is wasted here...
:::

Woke up this morning with a Very Scratchy Throat, which has been hanging around for several days now, despite topical applications of Lemon, Honey, and Echinacea tea. Early bedtime might be in order. Have kept busy stitching away at kitty face needlebooks; currently have orders for six different ones, which will be a nice addition to the holiday season budget. They are such fun to make, and their new owners always seem to appreciate the useful whimsey! Fortunately, this is work that can be done in bits and pieces, as the fighting off being ill for the last several days had limited my stamina and focus.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday tidbits


...in which our plucky heroine looks at treasure found and treasure created...

Found at the local Goodwill: this very large handmade and handpainted ceramic jar with a lid, in perfect condition... it will be a Useful Pot of Holding in the kitchen here. The name scribed under the base appears to be Booth, but there no useful way to look up "ceramic artist Booth" on Google to find out more about the potter...
:::

Now have orders for five kitty face needlebooks, and they are currently being stitched up. While I miss my knitting, with Solitary Foxen patiently awaiting my return, the extra holiday dosh will be quite welcome. Plus the needlebooks are fun to make, being quicker than most of the creative endeavors hearabouts...
:::

Progress report on the 6PAC slip dress: The original dress has had all extraneous parts cut away. After binding the new lowered neckline and enlarged armscye with bias made from the sleeve fabric, the prepared hem band, and bias strips made from the central black fabric, are stitched together along the hemline, to create the bottom embellished edge, which will be clean-finished on both sides.

It is a three layer sandwich, which I always have to think over carefully each time I use this technique. With the wrong sides of the dress and the hem band facing each other, and the right sides of the bias and the hem band facing each other, the whole thing is being stitched together along the raw edge...
Then that gets pressed with the hem band at the bottom and the bias turned up against the body of the dress. Once the bias is then folded over once more to cover the raw edge, it is topstitched at both the top folded edge and the bottom just above the seamline, to give the look of a stitched band of bias trim. A sketch or diagram kept in my sewing notebook would make it easier the next time this technique is wanted...

From the front, the hem band has a bound top edge that encloses all the raw edges; from the back, the pintuck darts that shaped the hem band are visible, but the joining seam is under the topstitching on the right side.
...
front of hem band  -  back of hem band

Back in the 80's, sets of matching china silk tops and either skirts or pants, were popular for a while... not terribly practical as daywear, being that china silk is comparatively flimsy, they often made their way to the thrift stores. The taupe silk skirt, a faint memory that had ended up in one of the yet to be disbursed bags of sewing detritus, had probably been in my stash for decades. Adding a layer of thin silk underneath the skirt of the slip-dress will make it warmer without adding much weight. This will slow slowed down the completion of the project, but not by much... First stitched in upside down at the waist, and then folded over and stitched again to enclose and strengthen the raw edge.

The completed slip dress; which will mostly only ever have the lower four or five inches visible, but will add greatly to my wintertime comfort

:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
hem and new pockets
on Stacey dress
*
2 grey slip-dress * *
3 * * *
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday snippets


Progress at last on my winter 6PAC: have been turning the dashiki borders, now overdyed with blue, into hemline trim for a new slip-dress. A shaped piece of tagboard is the basic pattern which gets used whenever a curved decorative hemline treatment is needed.  Tiny "pintuck darts" every five inches, centered on the brown/black striped sections, will shape the straight bands into a curve that will fit the salvaged dress.
Took my black chambray dress, finished in 2010, and am re-using it as a layering piece for extra winter warmth. Four years of wear in fairly close rotation; the edges are the most worn parts, in places the binding is threadbare, but the neckline will be re-cut lower and slightly larger, the sleeves will be cut off and loose armholes take their place. The sleeve fabric will provide enough fabric for bias to bind those edges. The hemline bias, also too worn to salvage, will be cut off and the stripey new hemline bands stitched to the bottom of the dress and hemmed...should be able to get another year or two of use from it, before it will be worn to a raveling and the hemline band will be removed and added to another garment.

Using the fabric (and my sewing efforts) this intensively makes me feel respectful and grateful rather than pitiful... A lot of effort went into making the fabric in the first place, before it ever reached my hands: workers tended the cotton, and harvested it, factory workers wove and dyed it, longhaul truckers, dockworkers and longshoremen transported it back and forth, store clerks handled it... there are a host of hands that brought it to me in addition to the fact that it is a gift of the natural world that helps keep me warm, and the work that allowed me to purchase it, and the effort and time to sew it to suit my life.

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without"
:::

Am about 75% done with Solitary Foxen, but will need to put knitting aside temporarily whilst using my handwork time to stitch up some more custom kitty-face needlebooks... have a few custom orders for holiday gifting... should make a note to self  to make up some needlebooks maybe during the summer, when small handwork instead of knitting is welcome.
:::

Friday, December 5, 2014

it's to dye for...


...in which our plucky heroine sees red...

Back in October, the Great Pokeberry Experiment began. Berries were gathered, and steeped in vinegar for a month. Then vinegar-mordanted wool was added to the cold solution and steeped for a week.

This is what my yarn looked like after soaking in the pokeberry-and-vinegar cold dye bath for a week... it isn't pink, or the purple I expected, but a deep "red wine" sort of color. The color of the wool is quite changeable, looks one way (deep crimson) in the sunlight, another (dark red wine) in shadow, and different (dark brown/red) yet under artificial lighting; in the sunlight, the poke-dyed wool turns out to be a deep crimson red color, slightly darker and warmer than this photo... pretty chuffed about this project I am !!
:::

December SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 red-dyed wool,
from pokeberries
* *
2 * * *
3 * * *
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * * ----------
8 * * ----------
9 ---------- * ----------
:::

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

wardrobe planning Wednesday


...in which our plucky heroine finds wardrobe plans beginning to coalesce...

Lots of design ideas for the SWAP 2015 are running through my head. Haven't yet done a big sketchup with all the parts of my current plans, but I did a little sketch last night, so as to keep this moto jacket concept in the front of my mind...

Had originally been thinking about using the brown brushed twill, but was recently given some distressed black denim, very heavy so only suitable for jackets (or upholstery). I could see this idea made up with that denim, to be worn with a random-wale black corduroy pinafore, and my beloved black leather Keen boots. Fill in the neckline with either my handknit Solitary Foxen wrap, or with some vivid turquoise necklaces and I will look rather like the woman I wanted to grow up to be...
:::

... and a modicum of progress on the Winter 6PAC...

Have had this caftan/dashiki in stash for years. The fabric is a pretty splendid three color wax batik, black and white and brown that is a bit more of a russet or burnt sienna color.

My idea is to use pieces of this on a black chambray slip as a decorative hem border. That fabric will be cut into strips, and then overdyed with blue dye, which will lower the contrast of the white against the background, and tone down the orange-russet brown.

Once dyed, the strips will be darted to a slight curve, the better to fit along the hemline edge of the slip. The dart seams will make an interesting pattern from the parallel lines...

:::

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

3 random Tuesday tidbits, including increased coping skills


Two possible Latin translations of "if you are going to die, die full of pie!", courtesy of  Steven Mesnick via the Latin for Scadians Discussion group on Facebook...
Si moriturus es, morere plenus tortae
  or possibly
Si tibi moriendum erit, moritor plenus tortae
:::

Last week when the Blue Cedar House folks were here for the holiday, while no new housey projects were completed, the bathtub surround moulding was shaped to fit the wonky contours, and Mr R showed me the clever trick of how to mark a coped edge, using parallel markers. Now that concept is another tool in my toolbox, yay! Today, after turning on the little space heater so as to not immediately freeze when exiting said bathing facility, it occured to me that it might not be necessary to wait for late spring to finish the bathroom trim... it should be possible to paint the assorted moulding in the warmth! All I need is a little table to hold the paint and the wood bits.
:::

Solitary Foxen is almost three-quarters finished! Keeps being put on hold as there are many more urgent handwork projects this time of year than one utterly self-indulgent and fascinating wooly wrap... Pretty much any time I have it out with me in public, usually knitting on the bus or waiting for transit, I get questions and appreciations of how it looks. Never had a piece of knitting generate so much commentary from entire strangers, a number of whom wonder if it is some combination of knitting and crochet, probably because of the convolutions. I suspect that when it is finished, no one (except other knitters) will assume it is a homemade handknit, because it is so unusual. Looking forward to the eventual finish, not because I want the knitting of it to be done, but because wearing it will be a delight!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday musings


... in which among other things, our plucky heroine is grateful for the now Very Sharp Knives... thank you Mr Robertson for all the attention you gave my cutlery over the holiday weekend!
:::

Have been doing a lot of thinking about my wardrobe refurbishment, and planning out what seems to be the most useful garments in an order that reflects seasonal needs... Drawing the various ideas is both helpful and inspiring, so that will be next on my list, to see how the various components will fit together visually
Winter 6PAC:
  • 2 bottoms: black polartec bloomers, blue polarrtec bloomers, both capri length because dampness. 
  • 2 underlayers: black slipdress, blue slipdress, both made from worn everyday dresses.
  • 2 outer layers: Black flannel w brown stars nightdress/everyday dress. Wool robe, shawl collar lined with softness.
SWAP 2015:
  • 5 tops: indigo floral voile blouse, blue horse print blouse, brown mushroom print blouse, brown chambray blouse, black/cream hemp knit top.
  • 3 bottoms: black pinafore, indigo pinafore, brown pinafore
  • 3 wildcards: black raincoat, moto jacket, wildcard garment(dress)
:::

Did something completely different Sunday and went to help building pieces for the special effects on Edward's next film. Fascinating, and quite happily some of my ancient childhood skills with string were useful. While at their house I got to hold a tiny lizard, and also met this impressive reptile (not tiny); nothing at all to do with their project but a treat nonetheless...
:::

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