Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fewer loose ends...


in which our plucky heroine considers the future...

My thoughts this year are to first of all find ways to build in ongoing referral to my year goals. I seem to be able to make things, to fix things and even to let go of things, but those activities do not necessarily get me closer to my overall life goals. As I continue to use the SMART goal logging format, which has served me well for several years now, I am going to also check in at the end of each month as to what progress I have made towards improving my life and the world around me...

I have in the past examined how my life is going in an eightfold direction, in an attempt to create more balance.
Last year I chose what seemed to me to be fairly modest goals of improvement. Despite that, I accomplished only a very very few of them. I did make progress on my wardrobe sewing, and am closer to my goal of enough clothing to allow me to do laundry once a week, and that I only need to sew replacements as things wear out (which they do if you have a small wardrobe).

And I did make significant progress on my declutting, now in the 4th year of effort. My house is finally becoming less visibly cluttered. I am now wanting to start digging into the "inner clutter", the things inside cupboards, and on shelves, what my coach calls Level 2, the things that are not visible, but also not needed or used or loved. I am going to continue my efforts, continue logging my progress and look forward to what a difference it will continue to make. Every time I can easily find what I need, the effort of the last several years seems worthwhile.

But rather than go over all that I didn't manage to do in 2017, I intend to focus on what I hope to do in 2018 -
  • finish loose ends -there are an assortment of projects here, that I have promised others I would complete, and for various reasons the projects have languished unfinished. This is going to change, starting on January 1. I am going to finish all the outstanding committments, working steadily every day. which will clear my head, make me feel more confident, and incidentally make friends and family a lot happier with me
  • compliments instead of complaints -  I think that one of my worst habits is complaining. It is a useless and annoying behavior. I do this in stores, when I am annoyed by things. I always apologise to the cashier, but then I do it again the next time. Only about stupid things that the poor cashier can't do anything about. It isn't their fault that the gorram transit system changed over to a crazy paid card system instead of sensible monthly passes, which so annoys me each time I have to go "reload" my transit pass. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to change the situation. So, my plan is to employ several strategies to remember to not complain, and instead to use my interactions to increase the general good by positive comments instead.
  • water instead of milk - I am not going to give up dairy; my breakfast museli will still be oats and fruit and nuts and milk, but at other times when I would normally drink milk as a beverage, I am going to drink water instead. My hope is that this change will help with my goal of a lighter and more nimble self by the end of 2018, with hopefully less pain and an increased ability to move about in the world.
  • food log - my intention is to simply write down what I am going to eat, before I eat it. Hopefully this will encourage me to notice when I am eating, and notice what I am eating, and make good choices about said food inputs. My goal is to get my weight lower than it has been; I would like to be on the other side of 200, where I have not been since prior to my surgery almost six years ago. Now that I have a phone with a brain, I can use the note taking function to do this, and not also have to carry an additional notebook
    • sewing goals -  I am going to complete SWAP 2018, and possibly some seasonal 6PAC sewing challenges. This will bring me up to almost all my desired garments. I need one or two more pinafores, four more popovers, four or five more cropped leggings, some rainwear, and possibly some slips/underdresses. I also will work out at least one or maybe two new TNT blouse patterns, and make a nice assortment of woven blouses, using the fabric on hand.
    • teach more often - Ideally I can offer to teach something at least once a month, if I don't offer, students will not just magically appear on my doorstep.
    • revamp website - I just need to begin this. Instead of talking about it. Figure out what the individual parts of the project are, and make time each month to move forward
    • housey-improvements - improve the chook habitat, including a new chicken house. Add another raised bed to the yard. Clear out the carport so it can be used as an outdoor room for workshops etc. Paint at least one room inside the house.
    • self-improvement - continue with exercise and acupuncture, to increase mobility and strength. Take time during the year to make artwork, both for personal enjoyment, and make at least three original charters in service to/for SCA. Attend the Creative Metal Arts Guild meetings every month.
    that is probably more than enough to get underway...


    SMART goals 2017


    in which our plucky heroine made some progress...

    ... and while not as much as hoped for, still more than nothing. Like the tee shirt said: "2016 sucked", but at the macro/political level, 2017 was much much worse. And my reaction to the chaos has been despair and immobility. There have been days when I could barely drag self through the minimal amount of actions needed to get through the day. Truly never have I felt so hopeless, even when I was struggling with cancer and depression. Keeping my monthly and year long log of what I managed to do despite all that has been a lifeline.

    There was much that I wanted to accomplish this year that didn't happen. I start every year looking over what I did, thinking about what I hoped to do and be, and choosing goals to strive towards. There will be some of that happening today, has been happening all week, and I will write about it tomorrow. I have some ideas for new strategies to help myself out of the slough where I have no traction. And I am going to return to adding a line of gratitude every day, as part of my effort to turn my focus from despair to hope.

    Today I am grateful for my wonderful friends and family. My online friends have truly shown me that they believe in me and value my presence. My friends, near and far, SCA or non, hold me in their thoughts and repeatedly kindly include me in their lives. And my family, however dispersed we may be, and however diverse, continue to find common ground and hold together our long history.  You all are my true lifeline in the bright world, and I wish for all of you a 2018 of creativity, connection, and lovingkindness.

    SMART goals challenge 2017
    #THINGS MADETHINGS FIXEDTHINGS GONE
    1black/cream pinaforebrown pinafore hemexpired medicines
    2toile knit pantsreframed charterpaper recycle
    3patches for march
    Wastekeep bidbag of papers
    4salted lemonscharters on wallbag of papers
    5Noro shawlettetop shelf clearedbag to Goodwill
    6new chook rampEBT applicationbag to Goodwill
    7grey pinafore bookcase tidybag to Goodwill
    8two stencilstextile shelf tidybag to Powells
    9black/cream knit topshadowbox tidy bag to Powells
    10blue/grey knit topstripey cuffs mendedbag to Goodwill
    11peg people playsetturtleneck re-edgedbag to Goodwill
    12needlefelted sheepsweater buttonholebag to Goodwill
    13seville marmaladegown neck repairbag to Goodwill
    14mandarin dream jellycuff embroiderypaper recycle bin
    15blood orange marmalademoved chook yardyard waste bin
    16pottery buttonsplant green onions dead bike tires
    17soap dishbike tubes and tiresyard waste bin
    18painted bowlbike brakespaper recycle
    19tiny flower holderclean chook housepaper recycle
    203 enamels for Eframed woodblockbag to Goodwill
    21Darylee overdressmend grey dressbag to Goodwill
    22pickled beets and eggstaxes doneyard waste bin
    23filigree center for Sside wall cupboardpaper recycle
    24Laurel medallion for Sdrill press setupbag to Goodwill
    25grey jersey pantsshelf moved/resizedbag to Goodwill
    26brown trim bandsWIP shelf setupyard waste bin
    27brown jersey pants2 shoplights addedbag to Goodwill
    28calligraphy for scroll surge protecter upbag to Goodwill
    29planter boxdoor for cupboardbag to Goodwill
    30Thora hat coneloom weights recycle bin
    31illuminated scrollsakura embroidery bag to Goodwill
    32bears with hammerssupports for peasbag to Goodwill
    3320 enamels Wastekeeprepair bathing suitbundle of wood
    34tiny peach enamelapron dress mendbag to Goodwill
    35tiny linen bagworkbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
    36octopus rattle left closet clearedbag to Goodwill
    37rainbow bootiespruned sagebag to Goodwill
    38mirror collageclean 4 box fansbag to Goodwill
    39rainbow baby hatbuttons sewn onwool fleece box
    40cloudlight paper towel holderyard waste bin
    41dark pelican enameldeclutter workroomrecycle bin
    42tweedledee ponchodeclutter workroomfreezer mysteries
    43color wheelsstanding workbenchyard waste bin
    44charter paintingtreerat mesh clochewood scraps
    45Jen paisley pinaforerepot lg spider plantbag to Goodwill
    46new backdoor tablepinafore mended bag to Goodwill
    47fig cottage syrupU-lock loosenedbag to Goodwill
    48puzzle ball toysterret scribebag to Goodwill
    49laser cut namedestem elderberriesbag to Goodwill
    50laser cut horsestreerat cloche #2bag to Goodwill
    51braided knit ball toyplant green onionsyard waste bin
    525 inktober drawingswheelbarrow tirepaper recycing
    534 inktober drawingsstudio wall patchedbox of magazines
    543 inktober drawingsstudio shelf sides
    556 inktober drawingsgarlic planted
    56laser cut wreathworm bin refreshed
    57felt padding for Wframed frogsong
    58silk layer for Wbackdoor latch
    593 tiny angle bagsblackhorse earrings
    60Kestrel Viking hatframed old photo

    overflow SMART goals!!!
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    61 sekrit needlebookrice bags recovered -
    62 turquoise heart pendant - -
    63 cranberry ketchup - -
    64 2nd original scroll - -
    65 otterface needlebook - -
    66 black corduroy pinafore - -
    67
    - -
    68
    - -
    69
    - -
    70
    - -

    Friday, December 29, 2017

    reverse applique flowers


    in which our plucky heroine undertakes a long project...

    Friday I stitched out the first of many floral motifs, and couldn't wait to trim away the excess inner fabric to see how it would look. I am pretty chuffed that it looks so much like what I imagined/intended. And for some reason this gave me a new idea about what to do for the sleeves of the cardigan...
    My initial inspiration was this Gudrun Sjoden cardigan, with a floral motif body and striped sleeves. But I have been struggling to suss out how to create striped sleeves with the Alabama Chanin layered applique. This morning, it occurred to me that instead of stripes, I could reverse the layers for the sleeves, and do them with brown as the backing, and indigo as the outer layer. This would give a contrast but still coordinated between the sleeves and the body, solve my technical problem, and give my own self-designed twist to the interpretation...

    Each flower takes about an hour - so allowing for the dots as well I estimate somewhere between 40 to 50 hours of hand stitching on the surface design aspect of this project. This does not include the preparatory stenciling, or the assembly of the pieces into an actual garment. For those who are astounded at the prices of the actual Alabama Chanin garments, this is why... Compared to many of those, this is a fairly simple piece. And all of those are the labor of subcontractors in her home town, who are paid a living wage for their labor, and that becomes part of the wholesale cost, which is then multiplied by whatever factor they use to create the retail cost which covers the rest of their business expense and profit. While I could never afford one of their creations, the generous actions of Natalie Chanin to open source her techniques means that I can use that inspiration to create my own "designer" garment, which will hopefully be one of the anchor pieces of my 2018 SWAP sewing

    Wednesday, December 27, 2017

    two steps forward one step back



    in which our plucky heroine makes SWAP progress of a sort...

    The skirt seams on the black pinafore looked even worse after I ran it through the washer and dryer. None of the other corduroy fabrics I have ever turned so puffy and strange after being stitched into garments and pressed, so I can only blame the theoretical lycra content. I had thought to use the remaining yardage for another garment, but I also suspect it will not wear well, as the pile on the fabric is rather thin. Still, it will do for as long as it lasts. I am going to go ahead and edgestitch the gore seams, because otherwise it will annoy me whenever I wear it!

    The other SWAP related progress today was that I finished the stenciling on the cardigan bodice... the back was fairly simple, being all one piece, but for the fronts, I wanted to have the motifs be continuous ie pattern matched, and it turned out to be fairly simple to do.
    I first printed one side of the front, and once it was all printed, and basted together, I was able to lay it down in place overlapping the not-yet-printed side, and align the stencil with the central floral motif.

    Then I carefully folded away the already printed fabric without moving the stencil, and sponged on the textile paint.

    The end result is nicely matched fabric across the front of the cardigan.

    Once the paint has set for 24 hours, it gets heat set with an iron. I recently realised that the timer function on my phone can be set for 30 second intervals, which is how long it needs to be pressed with a hot iron. It is tedious to do this for lengths of fabric, and much less so if a timer is set, and one can listen to podcasts while doing the pressing.

    The next step is to stitch along the edge of the painted areas one at a time, prior to cutting away their centers to expose the indigo blue jersey underneath. The stitching is probably the most time consuming part of this style of garment construction/embellishment, as each part of each motif needs to be stitched separately, and tied off separately, in order to maintain as much flexibility as possible.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2017

    Boxing Day... or the start of SWAP


    in which our plucky heroine dives into SWAP 2018...

    It is rather a bit too cold, still not above freezing, so taking photos outside is not going to happen, and despite traipsing from one spot to another inside my wee house, there is no real good indoor place with a blank background to do so. So this is rather a not-very-good picture of my new black corduroy pinafore for SWAP 2018. Of course black is always hard to photograph even at best. The only thing I did differently on this pinafore was to change the neckline to a squared off one (as opposed to the usual rounded vee).

    After sitting overnight, my nice flat-looking skirt gore seams have developed a bit of an odd ripple. I never use corduroy or denim that has any lycra content, due to an unfortunate incident years ago, but I suspect that this fabric does have a bit, even though it wasn't sold as such, as the only time previously I had this problem was with lycra/denim. (knit fabric with lycra content usually behaves quite nicely) I wouldn't have thought that stitching warpwise would have been a problem, but apparently the slight angle of the gores was enough for it to become one. Ah well, no one but me will ever notice, I suspect (well save all of you!). I am wondering if topstitching all the skirt seams will smooth them out, or if I should just let it go?
    ※※※

    Since I am not entirely sure of all the components in my 2018 SWAP, but I am certain that I want to include an Alabama Chanin style cardigan, it seemed like the best use of my sewing time today was to make a start on that... This will take quite a while to do, with all the hand stitching for the reverse applique. (I have confirmed that I much prefer block printing to stenciling for surface design, but for this application, stenciling is the best technique) I am sure that it goes a lot faster with an airbrush; applying painted motifs to the back of the cardigan took me about an hour and a half. Once I get the dark blue layer basted to the brown stenciled with black layer, I can mark and lay out the two front panels, maybe tomorrow...
    The plan is for the stitching to be in pale grey, the backing to be dark blue, and the centers of all the motif parts will be cut away to show the blue, so that I get both my neutrals and the black accent color all in one garment. This should work for the category: "Remaining two garments may be made from any one or combination of your neutrals, accent(s) and/or print(s)"

    Monday, December 25, 2017

    white Christmas


    in which our plucky heroine has an indoor day...

    It was snowing yesterday, and while the weather has warmed some, the snow is now covered with a layer of ice everywhere. When I went to open the chicken house and bring the hens fresh food and liquid water, they were quite dubious about the conditions in the chicken yard. And later, when I looked out the window, I saw that they indeed had no desire to slip slide down the ramp to eat their food off the icy ground, and instead, an nasty squirrel was having a field day with the organic layer pellets...

    Perhaps I am soft-hearted, at least a little, so I filled a ceramic bowl with henfood, and brought it out to them inside the little chicken house. And later on today, I will swap that for a half full bowl of warm water so they can have a drink...

    Nanny Og and Boneclaw Mother, not thrilled at a white Christmas
    ※※※

    My actual goal for the day is to fill at least two bags with declutter... trying to meet my year goal means 8 more bags by the end of the year, which is rather a challenge indeed, since all the low hanging fruit have already been picked. I am going to takd a spin through my sewing patterns, the bottom drawers in the dresser, and my collected magazines not yet recycled...
    ※※※

    Last week I made corn tortillas here at home, for the first time. When I was up in OlyWa last month, it was one of the things I learned, and it is dirt simple if one has a tortilla press. And earlier this month, I had found one at Goodwill... I also realised this morning, that I could make a small batch, just a few rather than a dozen or so, and so todays lunch was quesadillas, with fresh tortillas and the last of the homemade salsa verde from 2016.
    .
    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latchpaper recycling
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earringsbox of magazines
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 much cranberry ketchup x -
    5 second original scrollx -
    6 otter face needlebook x -
    7 black corduroy pinafore x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    Sunday snippets, music, and wishes

    in which our plucky heroine feels more thoughtful than festive...

    These songs always make me smile, and really who can argue with "finding common ground the best that we are able", and as the old hippie that I am, wishing "peace and love to everyone". May this holiday eve find light for all of us, somewhere beyond the deepening clouds...

    The Christians and the Pagans - Dar Williams


    Old Hippie Christmas - The Bellamy Brothers
    ※※※

    "Wintery mix" is what is in the forecast, and what we had this morning, before it came back later in the day as actual snow. I suspect there are a lot of little children, and some not so little, that are delighted at having a white christmas eve...

    While a friend and I entertained each other by describing what wintery mix would consist of; I thought it something like party mix, (that combination of assorted savory tidbits mixed with breakfast cereal and baked in the oven with a mixture of melted butter and Worcestershire sauce) only horrid, with those frosted pretzels and various strange candies! They decided it was, instead, a variant on hot toddy and hot chocolate, with peppermint schnapps and creme de cacao and vodka as mix-ins, and some whipped cream topped with grated nutmeg. I think they win, although yours truly would not enjoy either of those.

    Learned a new word today "graupel", which is the type of precipitation we had this morning - not snow, exactly, and not rain, but these strange tiny lumps too small and soft to be hail...
    ※※※

    guess I needed the reminder... my this years gift-to-myself, the renowned Green Lion sawframe, came with this handy notice, which will find a home on the wall next to my workbench.

    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latchpaper recycling
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 much cranberry ketchup x -
    5 second original scrollx -
    6 otter face needlebook x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    Friday, December 22, 2017

    Friday fragments..


    in which our plucky heroine wheels around the sun one more time...

    This week was my birthday, once again. I am most grateful to still be here in the bright world, which I never take for granted*. And while the actual day was quite quiet, later in the week I did enjoy a tasty dim sum brunch with my pal Zenobia. In addition, there were many electronic greetings from near and far, as well as charming family phone messages.
    ※※※

    Someone asked if I could make a needlebook with an otter face, and while it turned out to take about four hours of concentrated handwork to create, and hence not really saleable, I plan on keeping it for myself instead, and making a few for certain special friends...
    ※※※

    The universe gave me a bouquet of flowers for my birthday! the clerks were culling the floral display at NS, when I stopped by on my way home to pick up some groceries, so I got to bring home two bundles of only slighty banged up flowers, a most unexpected surprise. I was particularly charmed by the blue spikey flower (Eryngium alpinum), which has several common names, like "sea holly", and "Queen of the Alps", and am wondering if could grow here if in raised bed in full sun since it likes well drained soil...
    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latchpaper recycling
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 much cranberry ketchup x -
    5 second original scrollx -
    6 otter face needlebook x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    * for me it has been five years survival, and uterine not breast cancer, but yeah... trusting to be able to look ahead for a future is a gift not given to all

    Sunday, December 17, 2017

    my second original scroll project

    in which our plucky heroine continues to journey into calligraphy and illumination...

    Back in May, I made my first original scroll, an award for the Barony of Stromgard's outgoing Stormrider. I then volunteered to make an original scroll for the Barony of Three Mountains; my friend William Tarrel was being awarded membership in the Ordo Aegis Honoris ("...given in recognition of exceptional courtesy and honorable behavior."), and it would be a chance for me to do another scroll in the style of the 14th C Books of Hours, which is rather my favorite.

    As previously, the first step, other than looking through lots of online images for visual inspiration, is, once the wording for the text has been decided, to write out the text block. Once I wrote out the scroll text block to get an idea of how much space it would take up on the finished page, and confirmed the size needed for the Baronial seal, I began to sketch out various ideas for the surrounding illumination:

    Because the recipient is know for his weaving skills, I wanted to include a spider, and connecting the niche between the large capital P and the smaller text capitals seemed like a good spot

    I tried several possible sketches showing someone "tablet weaving" and this one seemed the best match with the aesthetic of the period and the style of the manuscript I was using as inspiration. There are LOTS of rabbits wielding weapons in the marginalia of some medieval books of hours and psalters, so I decided that bunny with an axe would help represent some of the martial activities of the recipient.

    Once all the border illumination design work is done, the whole page gets ink outlining, prior to applying paint...

    The first thing I do is apply the gold, in this case Finetec "Arabian Gold" metallic watercolor, which gives a nice vivid golden color. I try and choose where to apply the gold in a way that helps move the eye around the page... a bit more where the text starts, but not too much in any one spot other than that. I repeatedly look at various pages of my inspirational manuscript while I am choosing where to add various colors, to try and make decisions that are congruent with the medieval aesthetic...

    I try and keep to a limited palette of colors, similar as best I can to what was used in the 14th C. Eventually the base layers of all the several colors are laid down in place, and it will be time to begin doing all the tiny brush detailing to bring the illumiation to life. Whitework is the most challenging aspect for my painting skills, as the scale of the detailing is very wee indeed! When I saw how truly small some of the actual medieval manuscripts were, at the exhibit in Boston last year, I was astounded!

    Finally, the original scroll is completed. This time I added the thin ink flourishes to the ends of some of the line fillers in the text block. This sort of penwork is a common feature, and each time I make another scroll, I hope to improve. The ruler at side of photo gives an idea of scale.


    I tried to put in a number of details that refer to the SCA activities of the recipient. At the top of the border, a tiny archer takes aim at a snail/stag hybrid...

    Along the righthand edge of the scroll, I added another arrow, and some decorative tablet weaving cards. In addition, this photo gives a clearer look at the line filler whitework motifs, and the pen flourished linework. (The "boxes" that are line fillers are just over 1/8" tall)

    A closer look at the spider and spiderweb, and a glimpse of the tiny monster and knotwork motifs in the smaller capitals

    A half human/half monster holds spun yarn and winds it onto a niddy noddy. The tablet weaver keeps busy weaving trim, while the bunny with an axe rides backwards on a sheep. I found lots of small monsters spinning, and using wool combs, and winding yarn, in the original manuscript, and just had to include one here.... in addition, I decided that the bunny looked much better if riding on a sheep (sheep = wool/weaving), because it both filled the space better, and helped send the eye back around the design
    and a closer look at the tiny tablet weaver from the bottom border...

    and a final look at the capital P letter, inspired by several capital letters in the Book of Hours of St Omer.

    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 much cranberry ketchup x -
    5 second original scrollx -
    6 x x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※


    Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Tuesday tidbits


    in which our plucky heroine bites the yummo...

    Cranberry ketchup... which is suitable for my friends who cannot eat nightshades! I knew there was a recipe in "Food in Jars" for this, but had never tried making it. And since cranberries went on sale after turkey day, it seemed like a good idea. They are much easier to prep than tomato, since they go right into the pan without needing peeled. While the resulting ketchup has a more magenta cast than tomato ketchup, the spice mixture, along with brown sugar and cider vinegar mean the taste is only a little bit more "fruit-like" that the standard tomato jam. I ended up with about six 8oz jars, and fourteen 4 oz jars, which is about twice what the recipe gave as a yield? but had I cooked it down further, it would have been excessively thick.
    ※※※

    Last night just as I was drifting off to dreamland, my rice bag lost its integrity... this meant that instead of a nice warm cozy lump of thermons, there were suddenly many tiny grains of rice scattered between the layers of flannel. Not okay. Might be time to make some new ones, or at least re-cover the current ones lest the other two decide to copy the early adopter of disintegration.

    After a few minutes in the microwave, the rice holds on to the heat for hours. This makes getting into bed and relaxing into sleep a lot more, well, relaxing. I am thinking that possibly adding a bit of lavender to the rice bags would be a nice addition...
    ※※※

    After making cranberry ketchup, the obvious next thing to make is a meatloaf!  Although, I can count on less than one hand the number of times I have made meatloaf, so the first step was a phone call to my mother, for tips on what she used to do back when I was a child... I had to make some adaptations, but this is currently baking in the oven, and making the house smell amazing... has about an hour more to cook.

    after baking for an hour and a half... this is the result. Dinner started with a green salad, and I put a small potato in the oven alongside the meatloaf, so for a change, I had a conventional style dinner!
    ...and, for future reference, what I did, as far as recipe: about a half pound of ground beef, a half pound of ground pork, two small eggs, a quarter cup of rolled oats, a quarter cup of tiny bread cubes (smaller than croutons, more like about 5mm) a tablespoon or so of homemade ketchup, and a generous grinding of black pepper. I formed it into a loaf, slathered some more homemade ketchup over the top, and then interlaced bacon strips overall. Baked in a 375 oven for about an hour and a half, until internal temp was 165 (because pork, and ground meat) I used a roasting pan rack to allow any excess grease to drain away, and to allow browning of the bacon on all sides.
    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 much cranberry ketchup x -
    5 xx -
    6 x x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    Sunday, December 10, 2017

    Sunday update...


    in which we learn why our plucky heroine avoids the coffee and the tea (most of the time)

    It is a home truth that caffeine and I are not friends. While the two cups of tea I drank yesterday afternoon seemed to only have the effect of making me unrelentingly chatty and silly while Tullia was here, the drug also had the effect of making it very difficult for me to wind down when it was time to go to bed, even though I was very very tired. Stupid tired. Like, I forgot I had a pot of broth on the stove I had been cooking down from the turkey bones I saved, so it sat out all night with the stove turned off. Poultry broth that sits all night at room temperature is no longer food. Sigh, that was a waste. The other thing I forgot was to close up the jar of flux on the workbench, which sat out all night long drying out. Fortunately, that is saveable... I topped it up with some water, closed the lid, and set it aside... once I am done with breakfast and morning chores, it will have softened enough to remix and be useable today.
    ※※※

    ready, get, set... between working with Tullia again this afternoon, I spent time continuing to fabricate the setting for the turquoise heart. The bezel got a border of beaded wire, and a trio of fine silver granules at the tip. Then I added a hanging loop of heavy twisted wire, which was rather a challenge to fit and solder. A few more granules helped stabilise it visually, and finally I added two large jump rings as a bail, so that it can be worn with either a double hook necklace, or the more common jewelry chain... The white strings in the picture are dental floss, looped under the stone temporarily, so I can remove it at will, until it is finally set in place
    I sketched out a lot of ideas for how to fabricate this pendant, and for a while was thinking about adding an additional overlay to the back, maybe a portrait of Smokey... while I decided against that, (the setting is quite heavy already, and adding another layer would really almost double the weight) I thought that turning it into a reliquary had merit. I have a box with small bundles of Smokey fur, and will use some of that as part of the padding for the stone...
    ... and... tis done! I am pretty happy with how the pendant came together. The style is, as intended, southwest-inspired, as seemed appropriate for this chunk of Arizona turquoise. Since I don't yet have a dedicated necklace to hang it from, I temporarily borrowed the grey pearls from my running horse pendant - not sure what will be the best sort of finishing strand for it... maybe some vintage red whiteheart beads?
    This is what it looks like "as worn" with a double hook necklace. The benefit of such a necklace style is that it is much easier to fasten a clasp in the center front than in the center back. However, should I decide on a different sort of carrier, the two jump rings will also work well threaded with a necklace chain, or ribbon, or braid. I have not previously used a double jump ring as a bail, but will certainly do so when appropriate in the future...
    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
    4 x x -
    5 xx -
    6 x x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    Saturday snippets


    in which our plucky heroine waxes a bit philosophical, and then gets creative...

    “I think... that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed.”
    - Ursula Le Guin, The Other Wind

    ※※※

    After my visit up to OlyWa I came home very much conscious of the passing of time... mostly I was thinking about what feels like how little time I have left. And that I don't want to waste any more of it than I have to.

    For the last year or so have really struggled with feeling paralysed both personally and creatively because of politcal hopelessness, so now am determined to salvage as much makerie and sweetness from every day I have left in the bright world, because otherwise evil wins. My new overall goal is to be productive every day, hence an ongoing effort to make needful beautiful things every day, and to pay attention to what is still good in everyday life.
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    I've had this idea for a turquoise heart pendant stuck in my head for months now... rather like an earworm, but a concept... Not sure where it came from, but since it refused to leave, seemed like actually making it would be the best next step

    Little did I know that finding a turquoise heart-shaped cabachon would be so difficult. What little I was able to find, was not really a good match for my vision. I ended up with this fancy shaped blue-green Morenci heart, which I promptly reshaped into a simpler motif; turquoise is a very soft gem, about the same Mohs hardness as glass, so my alundum stones were quite up to the task of a little edge grinding..

    Whilst Tullia was here all this afternoon for her open studio time, I also worked on the setting for the heart pendant. Since the cabachon was taller than any of my commercial serrated bezel wire, I cut a strip of very thin fine silver taller than the stone. I then marked the height of the stone on the inside of the bezel before soldering it to the backing plate, and cut "dogteeth" into the edge so the bezel wire will easily shape to the turquoise.

    The design I imagined needed several decorative granules... while I made some at first from scrap bits, I decided that they needed to be closer in size to look well in this application. So, I used some of the leftover bezel material, which was already an evenly wide strip. I set the dividers and marked out three equal pieces, about 1/8" wide, and then melted each of them into spheres, the three will decorate the point of the heart; I cut a fourth equal piece in half and made two more smaller equal spheres to decorate the bail loop.
    ※※※

    December SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
    2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
    3 x framed old photo -
    4 x x -
    5 xx -
    6 x x -
    7 x x -
    8 x x -
    9 x x -
    10 x x x
    11 x x x
    12 x x x
    13 x x x
    14 x x x
    15 x x x
    ※※※

    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    A hat for Thora


    ... in which our plucky heroine realises that she forgot to post this project, and decides better late than never!

    I actually started the embroidery for this back in September of 2016, and took the panels with my on my cross country train journey last year. Thora chose the motif of blackberry sprigs, and liked my sketch, which, while not "Viking style" does capture some of the botanical details... The process of how I set up to do the embroidery is pretty straightforward, first drawing the design on thin (tracing) paper, then basting it in place an stitching the outlines right through the paper, then removing the paper and adding the infill stitchery
    These are the last three panels for the Thora hat project:

    .
    Here is a closer look - I chose to do a variant on couching the stems, adding in some longer stitches to represent the blackberry thorns. The filling stitch is a type of Bayeaux Tapestry stitch, and the berries are stitched down 10/0 glass beads.

    And, once back at home again, I also fabricated the sterling hat finial... This little granulated cone is about an inch and a quarter tall, and will serve to neatly finish the center top of the hat, once all the sewing is done. (This is the only part of these style of Viking Age hats that we have actual archaeological evidence for, although we do not know what style of hats were so decorated, as the textile portions have entirely disintegrated over the centuries).

    further progress on Thora's hat... the wide sheepskin edging is halfway sewn on. The leather is quite resistant to the hand stitching, and I had to take breaks to rest my hands. Still, was good to find out that my plan of running the fur all the way around the bottom edge and partway inside worked well and the hat was not too snug to wear, just nicely toasty warm.

    Once all the panels are stitched together (as seen here), The next step is for the raw edges to be trimmed to a neat and even height

    with the edges trimmed, the silver hat finial can be stitched in place, and as can be seen, makes everything neat and tidy. Sometimes I will also couch a third color of yarn down either side of the seams, covering the machine stitching with handwork... but in this case, the black stitching sunk right into the black melton cloth.

    And finally... the completed hat for Thora -