Monday, April 24, 2017

??? and a song


in which our plucky heroine is concerned...

The Blogger interface is not behaving normally this morning, and only allowing random sporadic access to the tools and settings, and no access to the HTML where I usually edit my posts, so rather than a full blog post today, I leave you with this sweet little song:



Sunday, April 23, 2017

can't beet this...


in which our plucky heroine tries something new...

In some places beets are only useful to help defrost the roads... here at Acorn Cottage pickled beets are a rare and delightful treat. While in general pickles are not a favorite, something about the sweet spicy tangy magenta discs just make me smile, and I occasionally will make up a small batch of waterbath shelf stable treats to add color to a green salad. I have never before tried making "quick pickles" (aka refrigerator pickles), which was the April "skill of the month" at Food in Jars Mastery Challenge.

While perusing options online, I came across these unusual pink-edged eggs and was curious... had never eaten pickled eggs, but since my hens provide me with an abundance to experiment with, I took a few and gave the recipe a try. Left out the peppercorns, as it was too late in the evening to run to the store for some.

I call this a win! The eggs are amazingly delicious as well as visually stunning, and pickled beets are always a treat. This is going on the short list of successful experiments that will be repeated on a regular basis.

I will, however, not substitute dried dill for the suggested sprigs of fresh dill. The dried herb bits turned into a messy mush that spilled over the top of the jar, and didn't really add any dill flavor. I am interested in possibly trying some other flavor and color variations, maybe with tumeric and curry spices...

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It has been a Very Busy Weekend here. My Blue Cedar House pals came down to do their usual helpful activity. My yard got mowed and weeded, and the strawberries the chooks tried to destroy are now in one of the self watering planters instead. Since it mostly poured down rain here all weekend, a lot of attention was focused on my workroom instead.

The two LED shoplights were installed, one above the south wall, to provide lighting for a future small standing workbench, and one above the west wall which will provide lighting for where I usually set up the ironing board when I am sewing. Both lights bounce off the walls and help light up my own small corner workbench as well. Being able to work without standing in ones own shadow is a great thing, and having this much light indoors will make all the shop tasks a lot easier to accomplish.

In addition, the lowest west wall shelf was reconfigured, cut down in length and lowered two inches, to accommodate this neat IKEA office paper shelf, which I will use to keep assorted commission work organised. The slide out shelves are lined with cork, so stuff doesn't slip about, and there is enough depth to include various specific supplies, and sketches, as well as the works in progress.
Moving that shelf allowed me to set up a work place for the mini drill press, which has been sitting in a box for months. We mounted the surge protector just below the windowsill, where it will serve for the various electrical tools used in that zone.


Another minor project was to start on a door for the wee shelf/box that holds all my small ceramic dishes that I use when enameling. My goal is to stabilise everything in the workroom, since we live in an active earthquake zone. Shelves need "batter boards" at the very least, and my intention is to give storage areas closed doors whenever possible. I filled in the side of the shelves with this fancy pressed molding scrap, and the front will have a slide-in panel cut from a leftover piece of the MDF chalkboard I used in the rest of the room.
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done paper recycle bin
4 geometric flower holder side wall cupboard bag to Goodwill
5 3 enamels for Edrill press setup bag to Goodwill
6 Darylee overdress shelf moved/resized yard waste bin
7 pickled beets n eggs WIP shelves setup x
8 filigree center for S 2 shoplights installed x
9 x surge protector up x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday fragments


Our plucky heroine wants to make a tabletop warp weighted loom for tablet weaving... like this one ➡

Weighting the individual groups of yarn from each card solves the issue of twist buildup, which is always an annoying issue and even more problematic when doing irregular turning with some cards moving forwards and some backwards in the same shed. I followed Charles Lawton-Brains advice and sought out something where it was used a lot and hence quite inexpensive.

The ceramic fence wire insulators I ordered arrived today. I intend to use these as my loom weights for warp weighted tablet weaving... The underside of the 30 porcelain "spools" was rough in places along the edge of the glaze; I used my trusty Alundum stone to grind down any sharp bits, so they will be safe to handle and not snag on any of my weaving yarn.
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done paper recycle bin
4 geometric flower holder x bag to Goodwill
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 Darylee overdress x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday tidbits.


... in which our plucky heroine is grateful for friendship...

Started the day off by riding my bike to the post office to send out my assorted tax forms and checks, as today is the final day to get envelopes postmarked. Living in a place in the city where so much of what I need is within an easy bike ride, and having lived here for over ten years, which means that assorted people like postal workers and store clerks recognise me, makes it feel a bit like what I imagine living in a village might be like.
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took advantage of the intermittent weather to play hooky to head over for a visit to Drusa... on the way from the bus stop to where she lives, this quite spectacular conjunction of magnolia + red dogwood caught my eye.

I wanted to see the changes she has been making in her workshop, and to catch up on various ideas we have for projects and products...

If there is a contest, Drusa is winning. We are both putting effort into reorganising our workshop spaces... this whole set of shelves in her shop looks just beautiful, with supplies and projects in process all ready to hand. Right now the various woodworking machinery is pulled away from the other walls while she adds some light-colored paint to brighten up the space.

Her tine boxes project has moved forward a bit, with some of the boxes having neatly cut and rabbeted bottoms, and another group of boxes formed and stitched. She also has quite a few sets of wooden tablet weaving cards cut out, and I am eager to try working with them once they are finished. The design that showed up on the FB Historic Tablet Weaving group page, for a tabletop warp weighted loom, is hopefully going to be something we can make up to try out, and Drusa said that it will be possible for me to build my own, with her mentoring me! Whoo hoo!
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Sadly, as I was away from home, I missed intersecting with Bill, who on his way home from southern Oregon, stopped by Acorn Cottage... he did, however, leave a bag with cheese curds from Rumiano's tied to my front doorknob... as well as a phone message giving me a heads-up as to the gift. The cheese will be part of lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday snippets and a Very Pretty Remnant


in which our plucky heroine has a rather busy few days...

It has been that time of year when despite whatever my fancy, necessity requires a great deal of arithmetic... yes, time to do all the taxes. (federal and state and city oh my) A few days of calculations and totting up columns of number and filling out forms and forms and more forms. Rather a lot of annoyance rather than difficulty. I am grateful for the fact that however thin the pocketbook, there is in fact, enough set aside to actually pay my taxes, and that every year however low the numbers, my businesses all take in more than I spend, which is the definition of "not a hobby" in the eyes of the revenue service.

Once the math was all done, and all the associated errands to the copy store and the post office were done, I put in some time on the my current custom commission work in the studio, a very interesting variation on a Laurel medallion... since it is a gift, I will not be revealing the images until my patron gives permission, as I am careful to never spoil the surprise.

The weather has become even more springlike, and there were a few clear days this weekend, so I rode my bike to the grocery store at least once a day. Yesterday I cleared off the workroom table so there was room for open studio time (today, Zenobia came over to work on her enameling). Did the usual wash dishes and do laundry, plus it was not raining so I could hang the laundry outside to dry which is always a plus.

Decided on Friday to start training the hens to come up the ramp and into their house when I call them to do that... this is going better than I had hoped, as they are already getting the idea. Why, you may ask, am I doing this? Because last week when my pal Dayna and I wanted to go to Katelines house, it was evening but not yet dark... I spent about 40 minuted trying to chase the hens around the henyard to catch them and stuff them in their house before they wanted to go to bed... not fun at all for me or for them; much easier if I can reward them into doing what I want

I also started mending/patching my grey popover summer dress, cooked a quiche for todays lunch, went downtown to get a free gift box of spices from Penzeys, and put in a bit more work on my new denim pinafore. Today I spent most of the day being mentor to Zenobia in the enameling zone. Oh and yesterday I also put in almost an hour of removing dandelions from the front yard... a useless but vaguely satisfying task... it does make the yard look better and since I am allergic to the dang things, feeding them to the hens is a better plan.

Going to put in a bit more time tonight hopefully getting the denim pinafore closer to done, I have not given up on my hope of actually completing SWAP 2017
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Once every few years the neighbors at the top of the street have a yard sale, and is always worth looking at. Last time (three years ago) I snagged an interesting tablet woven belt with tassles and braid, from somewhere in Central Asia... while I sadly couldn't bring home the dress form (150$ plus no real room here for one) I found this lovely almost half yard bit of real silk ikat in the 50¢ bin! The colors coordinate really well with the SCA gown I am currently and gradually putting together, and will add another layer of embellishment.

These are so not my usual colors, but sometimes the materials lead and I follow where they go... in this case it all started with the remnant that became the embroidered yoke background, which was originally leftover from some handwoven Ikea fabric that I used to make a tunic for my father to wear when my family came to my Laurel elevation... that fabric asked me for green leafy vines, and then it wanted red deer instead of my usual heraldic horses... and so it went... There are now embroidered cuffs with some of my blockprinted trim added, and and the embroidered yoke, ... and some trim for the shoulder seams using a fragment of blockprinted fabric that Marya gave me, cut into narrow strips in a most Viking Age fashion

Hoping to have this put together by tourney season


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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish mend grey dresspaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl taxes done -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 Darylee overdress x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Media monday


in which our plucky heroine does her best to remember that the world is still full of sweetness and good cheer and beauty, as well as sorrow and grief...

This is just a wacky bit of cheerful fun, (particularly if you like The Talking Heads)

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Sweet scented clematis blooming on Karla's alley fence. I love this variety of clematis, and tried repeatedly to get it to flourish on my front walkway fence, but despite my best efforts the plants did not survive. Karla has amazing "green fingers" and all kinds of interesting plants in her yard. I suppose that if I had made plants my avocation, I would have better success, but in truth, I can enjoy them every time I walk between her house and mine. We do not need to possess something personally to enjoy it in the common spaces - and that is one of the best reasons for caring for and adding beauty to the world.
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Given where I live, and our common springtime weather, this drawing from Incidental Comics "Philosophers in the Rain" seems very appropriate...
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an old favorite lullaby (written by James Taylor);
and sung by David Buskin, an old favorite folksinger...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sorrow, and one Sunday snippet...


in which our plucky heroine says goodbye to a friend...

Tell the people you love that you love them. DO it now! I was riding my bike to the grocery store when my phone pinged me. As I read the words on the tiny screen I started crying and cursing... This morning my friend Russ died, too early. He had gone through a serious medical situation and was recovering, had been moved out of the CICU and into rehab, when an aneurysm took him suddenly away. All his friends are shocked and sad, he leaves behind his lovely wife and two young daughters and a lifetime of unfinished work and poetry and song and storytelling. He was a true bard, and a kind, creative, thoughtful man. I am sorry I wasn't able to go see him in hospital, (thinking to self that the chance of sharing possible germs from my cough were not worth the danger of sharing a viral infection, and that there would be plenty of time... later...) The summerlands are brighter now, but our own world is darker for the loss.
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Using the beautiful paper that Drusa bought me last week to make a decorative mat for this small vintage Japanese woodblock... I've been waiting to frame this for over a year, as the size is not standard for the frames that show up second hand. Finally one did. The kitchen artworks here at Acorn Cottage have a common thread in that they all contain some of that vivid tomato-red color; when I found this woodblock print online at Washi Arts, I knew it had to come live here...
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons mat/frame woodblockyard waste bin
2 soap dish xpaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday fragments


... in which our plucky heroine is moderately pleased...

It has been a busy week, with some real progress happening with studio work - I have been making a set of small heraldic enamels, but since they are currently part of a "sekrit project", there are no photos yet posted... those will come later. In addition, Bill and Jen stopped by on their way south, and I was able to hand off some of the raw materials for the Wastekeep project to Bill, and in return the quatrefoil medallions that need enameled are now here, and waiting on my test samples. That project is a big one (two elaborate coronets) and I am glad that so far it all is moving smoothly forward.
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Earlier this week, Drusa and I were rambling round an unfamiliar neighborhood up in NW, whilst waiting for her vehicle tires to be replaced. We ended up walking all the way up to 23rd, and the fancy paper store, and on the way back, found this amazingly muscular tree! This is only part of it...

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Euphorbia wulfenii... there are some of these at Acorn Cottage, all the descendants of one small plant in a 4" pot that I brought home years ago. None have quite so picturesque a backdrop as this one a few blocks away! I am a big fan of sturdy plants that do not need to be coddled. Some might call euphorbia a thug, but it has these amazing chartreuse flower bracts every springtime year after year, and I never have to water it in the summer heat...

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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons -yard waste bin
2 soap dish xpaper recycle bin
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 3 enamels for Ex x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

everything and the kitchen sink


in which our plucky heroine embraces useful...

not that I ever stopped keeping company with useful, since I have long espoused the William Morris credo to "have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"...

The small ceramic pieces from the free workshop I took were returned to us, properly fired and shiny glazed, at the last class Tuesday afternoon; even more obvious to me now that creating results that match up with the ideas envisioned is the result of both innate talent and quantities of experience (neither of which I have in this medium) It was a lot of fun though!

I am actually rather pleased with how the buttons came out, and think that they may work well for future knitwear

As for my attempts at flower holders... well, the round one came out looking more like a childs "ashtray for daddy" than I expected, though the geometric one does look a bit more "interestingly sculptural" and I plan on going out in the front yard to search for wee flowers to put in them both just to see how they look in use:

Tiny sculptural flower holder in situ on the entryway shelf, holding an assortment of wee fleurs from the front yard. I am happy with this, it does exactly what I had hoped it would!

the kitchen sink with my new handmade pottery paraphernalia: a painted dish to hold the green scrubbie, and the triffid soap dish... I am REALLY HAPPY that our class instructor somehow managed to stick one of the three tripod legs (that I broke off while trying to paint it with underglaze) back on to the soap holder with glaze.

All in all, I have a much greater appreciation of the honed skill of the ceramic artists I know and the ones I follow online
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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pottery buttons --
2 soap dish x-
3 painted bowl x -
4 geometric flower holder x -
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, April 3, 2017

media Monday and other musings...


in which our plucky heroine enjoys springtime...

There is something amazing about being able to walk outside on a clear spring day, and even in the heart of the city, to smell the sweet scent of tree blossoms and the the green earth waking up. My ornamental plums are a glory to behold right now, and my heart is eased momentarily by the simple act of walking out the front door and standing underneath them and looking up into a cloud of pink fragrant flowers and tiny deep red unfurling leaves.


The white violets are done for the year, but the pinky-purple ones are all flowering and there are assorted buds happening on some of the other spring bulbs. My tiny star magnolia has a few stars on it this year, I suspect that the harsh winter did not make it happy, but it did survive, unlike half my euphorbia. And, in the back yard, the apple tree is showing signs that there will be appleblossom later this spring...
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Had a chance today to stop off at Drusa's wood shop and view the progress on the tine boxes she is making. There are more of them, and she has picked out compatible wood for their lids and bottoms. Woodworking is not a fast process, and I am looking forward to seeing how they all turn out. I have been encouraging her to also make assorted smaller wooden items for sale to SCA people, shuttles and threadwinders and tablet weaving cards and suchlike. She has also started making a few of the Norse bag "handles" and will have some of them available this tourney season.

She has, in addition, been doing some urban wood salvage of tree parts damaged in this winters snow, and has some greenwood to experiment with, maple and birch, for making coopered buckets and other delightful possible future projects! I will continue checking in with her, and am hoping to swap sewing expertise for woodworking skills...


an assortment of tine boxes in process...
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Good progress has been happening in the workroom, but as the commissioned projects are gifts, the images of those will have to stay hidden for now. In addition, this weekend I spend a good chunk of time teaching some introductory metalwork skills to Tullia, and open studio time with Zenobia. Tullia wants to eventually be able to add greater realism to her Roman era historic re-creation, and making unique component parts of jewelry that are not commercially available is one of her goals. It was also my first time teaching metalwork skills, as opposed to enameling. We decided that her learning to solder would be essential; and she took to it with aclarity. These are her first soldering efforts, which I call quite successful for her first time driving the torch!

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The problem with having so much fun mentoring folks in the skills I have is that it also has me looking at supply and tool catalogs, and finding nifty useful things for the workshop... currently resisting spending money until further decluttering and organisation happens in the workroom, but there are several things on the wishlist... quite frankly, I am sort of a tool junkie, and have been my whole life. Just look at this gorgeous jewelers saw frame, which several of my metalworking pals have and enjoy... These titanium soldering clamp blanks look mighty useful, and there is an article with instructions for how to customise their shapes... even something as simple as this slide gauge will be a good addition to the workroom capabilities, and this blog post has good information about how to use it in various ways. I may have to promise self assorted tools as rewards for meeting various personal goals! Positive reinforcement is a good thing...
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The world is so full of talented dedicated artists who put in a lot of effort and time to create beauty. I am filled with gratitude not only for their efforts, but for the world of technology that allows me to even know that they are out there, and to see even a small bit of what they offer to us...



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April SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - --
2 - x-
3 - x -
4 - x -
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday fragments


in which our plucky heroine realises that springtime does in fact involve pollen...

Every year, for a few days or more, the sweet scented ornamental plum trees put on a spectacular show in my front yard

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Each year I somehow hope that my springtime allergies will not arrive. Each year I am disappointed. For all my young life, springtime simply meant flowers, and no more snow... Then I moved to the PNW, the land where pollen falls like rain*, or sometimes is washed into the street by the rain, leaving the puddles with a vivid yellow rim. Time to go see if the drug store still sells my preferred remedy... sigh... the one that works really well, but takes two to three weeks of daily use to become effective...
* last years giant pollen balls
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between other tasks today, I have started a batch of blood orange marmalade... these have already been boiled for several hours, and are in the process of being cut into narrow strips. They then get mixed with sugar and lemon juice, and cooked into marmalade.

Citrus has enough pectin in the white parts to create a gel sans adding anything extra. It will be yummy. I try every year to make enough marmalade of different varieties to last through til next citrus season, although it seems that no matter how much I prepare, it never is actually enough. Uses for tasty marmalade expand to fill however much is in the pantry!
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Maybe I am too tired to do any sewing for me tonight, but it has been a productive day: The chicken house is cleaned out, and has nice fresh wood shavings... All the people I needed to contact about enameling and metalwork have received emails and/or drawings... Dishes have been washed, laundry has been done and put away... Some time spent on stitching trim to the current sewing commission... All the new blockprinting and textile paint has been put away... The studio is tidy for the work tomorrow, when I start teaching metalworking. This is a new endeavor, with a private student. I have been teaching enameling for a number of years, but never the basics of metalworking. I began learning metalworking decades ago as a young teen, long enough ago that it all seems mostly second nature to me now. Will be interesting to start at the beginning again for someone else...
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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions plantedpaper recycle bin
2 2 stencils bike tires and tubesyard waste bin
3 black/cream knit top bicycle brakes dead bike tires
4 grey/blue knit top chicken house cleaned x
5 peg people playsetx x
6 needlefelted sheep x x
7 Seville marmalade x x
8 Mandarin Dream jelly x x
9 blood orange marmalade x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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p.s. sadly, my little virtual hamster in the sidebar, after running on the wheel and eating chow pellets for the last ten years, has succumbed to a lack of internet support and started falling apart into bits, so I let them go across the electronic rainbow bridge. Bye bye little hamster...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mandarin Dream and other delightful things


in which our plucky heroine sees a rainbow, and has a productive day...
This afternoon there was a long and very low rainbow, which cut across all the sky between the houses to the east...
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My effort for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge this month was Mandarin Dream jelly... The leftover mandarins (tangerines) from KASB were juiced, and were augmented with the juice of two lemons and a splash of vanilla. The skins and seeds boiled up for two hours in an effort to extract their natural pectins... then strained out skins and seeds, mixed all back together, added 2½ c sugar, and boiled it all down until it was concentrated enough to jell.

I ended up with seven 4 oz jars, which filled the canning kettle, and an additional 6 oz to put in the fridge and use right away. It should be an excellent treat to dollop a spoonful over a bit of Greek yoghurt. But, as always, the effort to create a clear-er end result and call it jelly seems excessive, since I personally prefer the slightly more textural jams, marmalade, and preserves. The flavor is reminiscent of lemon drop candy, and the color is a spectacular transparent gold. It is lovely, assuming it actually does set overnight as it cools, but will not be joining the short roster of pantry preserves that get made in rotation every year.
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This bowl was rather an afterthought but I particularly like how the blue underglaze spots dripped onto the dark center, and am quite eager to see how it will look next week (when our glazed and fired pieces are returned at the final class).

These experimental buttons, now underglazed half brown/black and half blue, will hopefully end up as functional and decorative fasteners on a handmade cardigan:

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions plantedpaper recycle bin
2 2 stencils bike tires and tubesyard waste bin
3 black/cream knit top bicycle brakes dead bike tires
4 grey/blue knit top x x
5 peg people playsetx x
6 needlefelted sheep x x
7 Seville marmalade x x
8 Mandarin Dream jelly 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
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine acquires some greenery...

It had been my original intention to have some spider plants here, as they are durable resilient house plants that remind me of my younger days as well as adding a bit of life to the interior decor

I decided after the kind response to my request last week for spider plant babies, that it would be a real treat to have a small collection of future spider plants from various friends of mine.

These two arrived this weekend from Karen Eccles and Elizabeth Mead, and are settling in to their new home. Soon the larger of the two will be potted into a hanging pot, and the smaller green and white stripey one will be potted into a windowsill pot
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Started in on making marmalade for the year, whilst there are still an abundance of citrus in the shops. Made very small batch of Seville orange marmalade to start, and acquired some blood oranges for a second small batch. Since there are quite a few tangerines leftover from KASB, making "tangerine dream" jelly (combining tangerine with vanilla) seems like it would be fun, and a better-late-than-never response for the current monthly Mastery Challenge over on Food In Jars.

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions plantedpaper recycle bin
2 2 stencils bike tires and tubesyard waste bin
3 black/cream knit top bicycle brakes dead bike tires
4 grey/blue knit top x x
5 peg people playsetx x
6 needlefelted sheep x x
7 Seville marmalade 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
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Giant sheep, peg people, and a visit from Blue Cedar House


In which assorted friends visit our plucky heroine, and we survive the wool weasels...

Forsythia is such a classic sign of springtime; this one grew from a wee salvaged sprig planted in the parking strip, to a splendid shrub that cheers me every year! (now I just need to find a bit of flowering quince to keep it company, those two being my spring shrubbery icons...)
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Over the weekend: spent time doing some tidying in the workroom. Got rid of most of the empty cardboard boxes, which pretty much filled the recyle bin. Yard is much tidier, weeded, grass mowed. Removed dead euphorbia shrubbery, which pretty much filled the yard waste bin. Had new tires and tubes on bike, and general bicycle cleanup, so I can now ride the bike that has baskets for shopping. Filled two round planter pots so I can plant peas. Plus finished making the needlefelted sheep and painted peg people playset for Mindy. It was a busy weekend.

the yoga class for peg people, they just love doing headstands:
This was my solution for painting clear coat on them, first clear coat their little heads and upper bodies, let dry, then clear coat their bottom halves and balance them on thread spools until their nethers are dry.

The multicultural peg people children - part of the playset that M asked me to make for her Sunday school class... I thought using different skin tones, but not to attempt specific "ethnic clothing" but just go with a variety of visual patterns and designs, would be the most appropriate way to support the ideas she was asking for...one friends comment was "I love these! They don't normalize white and exoticise everyone else"

The multicultural peg people adults + "Good Shepherd" - part of the playset that M asked me to make for her Sunday school class... All the peg people are so small that painting them is a bit of a challenge, but it was a fun project, and I was rather charmed by how tiny changes in where the eye dots were placed create such individuality of expression!

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The playset needed to include a small flock of sheep. I ended up needlefelting the sheep over a framework made from pipecleaner wound about with wool floss, which was pretty difficult. I was reassured that the children she teaches will not be as disturbed as I am by the fact that the sheep are quite the size of small horses, compared to the peg people.

Somehow, it was decided that the sheep were not particularly ovine in appearance, and while to me they ended up looking more like dogs, the consensus was that they looked rather like weasels. Or maybe it was just that the idea of "wool weasels" was just terribly amusing. There was much joking about said rogue critters all weekend by the three adults, substituting "wool weasel" for other nouns or various concepts in our conversation, with hilarious results. This was not decreased when on a trip to the hardware and garden center we discovered the "Garden Weasel" tool... and I decreed that the "wool weasels of war" were all armed with their trusty garden weasels. I know that would certainly strike fear into my heart, but then I find ordinary weasels quite scary enough to begin with...
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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions plantedpaper recycle bin
2 2 stencils bike tires and tubesyard waste bin
3 black/cream knit top bicycle brakes dead bike tires
4 grey/blue knit top x x
5 peg people playsetx x
6 needlefelted sheep 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

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

the woodcraft of Drusa


in which our plucky heroine pays a visit to a talented friend...

So last week at Arts Evening at Tullia's, Drusa brought her wood steaming equipment, and an assortment of various jigs and wood strips, and we all became the "bender babes" and helped her begin the process of creating Norse tine boxes. Wood strips get steamed in boiling water, then really quickly wrapped around a jig, held in place with multiple angled pegs, all before the strip cools down and the lignin re-solidifies. Then the curled up wood strips get clamped in their new shape. (Extra hands make it a little easier)
She then took them home to finish drying, cut the ends in decorative patterns, glued them in place, and drilled holes to add stitching...

I visited Drusa this afternoon and helped with the decorative stitching (with waxed threads) on some of the boxes. They all still need all the rest of the parts added, the top and bottom, and the side pieces that snap to hold the lid in place

This butternut case will become the sides of a box for me!

The tine box cases from last week's "bender" - Drusa is planning on making more of these tine boxes to sell this tourney season, along with an assortment of other wonderful woodworked goods: including tablet weaving cards, boxes, and maybe some buckets, and other tourney furniture. She has the skills!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

glorious mud


in which our plucky heroine gets her hands dirty...

I signed up for a just for fun, free, Beginning Ceramics workshop series at the library, 5 short sessions of making things from clay, a crafty medium I last played with as a child. Definitely outside my comfort zone and skill set. (usually the art workshops at the library are one afternoon, not five, and usually more "dry" media, like origami, or book arts, or knitting groups)

A dozen pottery buttons (the raw clay showing the texture of the canvas we rolled the clay out on, yet to be fired and painted) might be a really fun addition to my wardrobe in the future...
This is an experiment, as I have no idea if they will even prove durable enough for use after they are fired, but it would be so nifty to have buttons I made on a sweater or cardigan jacket I made.

I was inspired by some beautifully funky pottery I saw on the internet; this odd little sculptural form will hopefully become a tiny clay flower holder. The pieces in these three photos are my efforts from the three class sessions we have had so far.

Next week we get to paint underglaze on everything we have made so far (which will have been bisque fired in the interim), and the final class, in April, we get it all back, fired again to set the color and with a shiny clear glaze over it all, and will talk about it.

and... as an appropriate soundtrack, an old favorite:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday media etc


in which our plucky heroine improves slowly...

Here is a thoughtful and visually beautiful bit of media:
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So slowly, I began to regain some energy, some tiny modicum of enthusiasm. Instead of dragging through the days, desperate for an afternoon nap, I make it through 'til evening and cook an actual supper instead of just simply opening a box of soup.

Does this correlate with the lengthening daylight, or as is more likely, with the clever ministrations of my beloved acupuncturist doing her best to encourage my immune system to wake up and do what needs to be done. Difficult to be feeling cheerful when within the last week one good friend had a stroke, and two others were diagnosed with cancer. Grateful for my five years as a survivor, and hoping for the same for those dear to me.
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Stitchy stitchy stitch... the other hemp knit top is finished, and has been washed and worn again twice. I am liking the slightly rough linen-y texture, and just delighted with the narrow dark grey/pale blue stripes. Very narrow stripes are now going on the list as one of my fashion basics; I loved the only striped knit I had previously, and I hardly want to take this one off, I like it so much.
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And should all this be too serious, and something just plain silly called for, here is a very silly bit of media nonsense:

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions planted-
2 2 stencils x-
3 black/cream knit top x x
4 grey/blue knit top x x
5 -x x
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

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Friday, March 17, 2017

delectable stripes


in which our plucky heroine continues making progress on a renewed wardrobe...

Today's project is working on my second knit top, this one made from striped hemp jersey, which is behaving much more cooperatively than the marled hemp jersey did. Narrow 1/8" stripes of charcoal grey and a very pale blue will coordinate well with all my pinafores.

At this point in time, once this basic top is complete, if I get three more garments finished I will meet my minimum goal of meeting the requirements for SWAP 2017. If I finish those three by the end of March, I have a whole month (all of April) to do something a bit more intensive/spectacular, which is my hope. I really want to make the Alabama Chanin style cardigan that is currently taking up a big spot in my visual imagination, and that would be a most useful springtime layer.

Finished the hand-stitched neckline binding tonight, just need to do the same to the cuff edges, and hem the bottom edge, and it will be finished. For this one, my aim is a very basic wardrobe component, not highly elaborated, but with the visible hand stitching being a subtle embellishement. Given how much I wear my black/grey striped cotton turtleneck, a new stripey cool weather top, in a slightly different colorway and style, will surely become a wardrobe staple.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday thoughts


in which our plucky heroine enjoys the softer spring weather...

Last week I managed to get green onions planted in the upright planter just off the front porch. It is easy to start new plants by simply cutting the bottom inch or two off a grocery store bunch and planting them out one at a time. By doing this, one or two bunches of green onions can be kept growing, if not indefinitely, at the very least for close to a year or more, increasing allium self-sufficiency.

The beautiful planter box is all made from salvage: it involved some leftover pieces of cedar fencing and some 2x lumber. The bottom is the galvanised mesh you can just see bent up in the front, and the box is lined with fiberglass screening which keeps the dirt in and lets the water drain freely. The tall wooden legs rest on leftover bits of stone or brick to level the planter just under the drip edge of the porch roof.

Currently, a wodge of bird netting is draped over the planter box (visible as sparkley mesh in photo) to keep rogue squirrels from destroying my planting. I will have to think about what will serve well as the little green onions grow taller.
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The snowdrops are almost ended for the year, and their place in my heart is now filled with the small white violets, the next spring blossom here. There are some in the front garden bed, and small clumps mixed into the front lawn, which every year I mean to dig up and move into other garden beds, and always forget to...
When I went to put the hens to bed tonight, I noticed that there was just the tiniest hint of green on the apple tree in the back yard. Maybe this year I can acquire another fruit tree for the back yard, maybe a quince, or a pear to replace the one I lost...
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My black/cream marled hemp knit top is finished. I was hand stitching down the hemline when I noticed this scrap from cutting out the pieces was all curled up into a cord, just like they describe in the third Alabama Chanin book. I decided that it would be a good addition to the neckline, just a tiny bit more embellishment, really quick to stitch into place.
It's basically a very simple "reads as grey" knit top, and is quite comfortable to wear. The hemp knit is surprisingly warm for how thin it is. I am giving up on my initial idea to overdye it a medium brown, since as is it fits in well with the current swap, as well as under all my other pinafores.
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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions planted-
2 2 stencils x-
3 black/cream knit top x x
4 - x x
5 -x x
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
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Grrrr... Jersey can go to the hot place


in which our plucky heroine dislikes some fabric...

While I love the ease of wearing knit tops, some knit fabrics are more amenable than others to work with. I enjoy sewing with ribbed knits, as the structure of the ribbing means that they fabric lays flat. I only used ponte* once, on a vest for my Mom, but it too was easy to work with, since it is a double knit and very stable. The most annoying knit fabric to work with is jersey, since it is a single knit, it wants to curl. This is a function of the structure of single knitting, whether in the form of fabric, or in knitting with wool by hand, where single knitting is called stockinette stitch.

Last week I started in on a simple black/cream marled hemp knit top. This fabric has an interesting visual texture and is a lightweight knit. My thought was that it would be an appropriate layering garment for winter, as well as being good on it's own in the transitional seasons. However, the cussed fabric rolls on every cut edge, and not just a little curl, but it will happily roll up several inches or more. This makes it rather quite annoying to work with. Nonetheless, I manage to get the main pieces serged together...

Somehow when I then foolishly serged the neckline binding in place, (rather than basting and stitching, I inadvertently stretched the neckline, which looks unattractive, as it makes the binding stick out rather than lay neatly flat. I had to remove the binding, cutting off the serged stitched portion, that will make the neckline larger, which is not the look I want.

A larger and wider neckline opening can be filled with a floppy cowl, or can become a wide deep scoop necklines, or in this case, I created kind of double facing, and sandwiched the cut opening between two pieces. Extending the neckline edge inwards on the double facing pattern pieces I created restored the original neckline. Yay! I think that the hand stitchery is a nice rustic detail on a pretty basic long sleeve knit top.

I had been trying to avoid starching the knit fabric, but it is unavoidable; there is no way to deal with the edges of the fabric otherwise. Those applied cuffs would literally curl into what looked like a heavy cord, were they not starched prior to my working with them, as would that tidy looking neckline facing, and that would make stitching them in place rather difficult. Heavy starch makes working with the curling jersey fabric a lot easier, rendering it almost as stiff as quilting cotton, but it takes time to do, requiring multiple applications of starch, makes a mess of the ironing board and of the surface of the iron.
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despite the snow this morning, there are definitely more signs of springtime every day. The days are getting longer, if not a lot warmer (yet). One or two eggs each day from the goofy hens. Many yards with sweet crocus blossoms, which reminds me... need to get self to a garden store and get some pea seeds,, because it's time!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine makes ragged progress...

springtime is on the way - the hellebore flowers are such a pretty sign of the changing seasons... I really would love it if my front garden could have some of the speckled ones, and the greenish white ones, as well as these pink flowers on the single hellebore in my garden..

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Cutting the new stencil - I decided that a new Alabama Chanin style cardigan would be a good wardrobe addition. That means some new stencils, since I get bored with using the same designs, and I like creating or choosing motifs just a little different than what is commonly seen. I am trying out this new mylar from the art store that opened up a few blocks from here, and hoping it is not too thin to work well, since it is thin enough that it is really easy to cut!... I'll be doing some trial stenciling first, before starting in on my actual garment fabric. For the striped sleeves, I can just lay out strips of masking tape, which is even easier than using a cut stencil.

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My new pinafore - grey corduroy, worn here with a teal batik stripe everyday dress (also new this year, but not for SWAP). This pinafore will be a good transition piece into spring; the darker colors seem more wintery to me, but this one will coordinate with future blouses and everyday dresses in paler colors. I have some striped grey and white set aside for a springtime dress, and some fun conversational prints for once I get a TNT blouse pattern.

Really, the hemline is level, but the camera lens makes it look very lopsided. I am enjoying stitching up my "sewing kits", and dividing up the cutting out from the sewing up seems to work well. I enjoy sewing, but really dislike cutting out for some reason...

Now I need to focus on getting the knitwear components cut out, two new tops, two pairs of petticoat pants, and then the pieces for the reverse applique shirt jacket. Once all of those "kits" are prepared, I can return to the fun of adding new garments to the wardrobe.
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Something to listen to - pick up a teacup and take a moment...

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore x-
2 2 stencils x-
3 - x x
4 - x x
5 -x x
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
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