Tuesday, February 28, 2017

revising the SWAP


In which our plucky heroine finally has a tiny bit of spare energy...

I have been sick since January, and most all of my vocation and avocation has fallen to the wayside. Currently working on the grey corduroy pinafore a few minutes at a time, since it was already cut out. Sewing already cut out "sewing kits" takes less brain power than cutting out new ones. Cutting fabric, like running the torch, or the kiln, or cutting metal, needs full brain/body function. Sewing a TNT pattern that has no surprise technical challenge, not quite as high on the food chain. The grey pinafore will be done in another day or two still needs the bodice and skirt attached together, and all the raw edges bound, as well as an additional layer of trim binding to help stabilise and decorate the hemline. That technique worked really well on the brown twill pinafore, and I may just start adding it into most of my sewing in one way or another.
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Have been doing some more thinking about my 2017 SWAP components, and playing mix-n-match using post-it notes. The necessary bottom garments, which I have christened "petticoat pants" have been recalcitrant to be integrated (technically they do coordinate, but when I try and visualise the "outfit" they just seem irreleveant) I suspect that once I actually sew them, that they will prove every useful in the still cold weather we have currently...

I decided that a narrow band of stenciling along their hemline edges will help them coordinate better with the rest of my clothing. The blue one will get a brown stenciled border, and the brown one will get a black stenciled border; nothing fancy, but will likely help them coordinate with the tops and pinafores, and will also help me feel a little more enthused about working on them.
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Have also an fun idea for an Alabama Chanin style cardigan jacket that I want to start working on. More cardigans and light jackets will be a great addition to my wardrobe. Blue top layer, brown under layer, black stenciling, grey stitching. Floral motifs on the body, and striped sleeves... vaguely inspired by this Gudrun Sjoden sweater, but in my low contrast dark value colors instead. If I can manage to finish this by end of SWAP, I will use it in place of my cave horse shirt jacket, thereby freeing up the "previously sewn" category to be used in either the tops or the pinafores probably for the black/cream floral woven top I made back in 2013, which will coordinate beautifully with the grey, the brown, or the black/cream pinafores

Friday, February 24, 2017

sometimes wishes come true


in which our plucky heroine finds that N.E.D. is the outcome...

It has been a very rocky week here at Acorn Cottage, between my worry about possible recurrence, and the actual additional medical fu of having viral bronchitis. Now am back home again after my consultation visit this afternoon with my oncologist - GOOD NEWS, all the test results came back normal! I guess with luck I will be around for a while longer!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday tidbit - the shapely Viking apron dress


in which our plucky heroine, though still sick as a dog, stashes these instruction here, in case anyone is interested...

This simple to make, simple to cut out, patternless pinafore is based on cloth fragments from the Viking Age. We have almost no completed garments, but tattered fragments were tarred and used as ship caulking; said caulking, recovered from archaeological digs, has been interpreted to be parts of a garment like this one. What I like about this concept is that it is also basically a zero waste sewing project. Helpful nowadays, but much more important back in history when every piece of clothing was made from fibers prepared from the raw wool or flax.

page one of handout sheet


second page of handout sheet


Useful schematic of how this pattern works


worksheet for 3 panel apron-dress


worksheet for 4 panel apron dress

additional notes: It is necessary to make some thin shoulder straps, either from excess fabric on one edge, or from some complementary fabric. This pattern lends itself to embellishment. Since we don't usually hold our clothing together with brooches, unlike in the Viking Age, it would be simple to just stitch the shoulder straps in place fore and aft. For modern wear, any useful finish of the raw edges will do just fine, I usually serge the seams and bind the hemline and the top edge. The missing sheet of my handout is the one on early period seam treatments - here is some similar information, and some more useful seam tips... and here are some decorative seam embroidery stitches

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday snippets


in which our plucky heroine enjoys some progress and distraction...

My dear Blue Cedar House pals came down for the weekend, which is always a treat! We managed to get a few projects completed, and made plans for a number of others, which were are still waiting on my schematic drawings, for things like the remaining bookshelves, or an improved tablet weaving loom. I am going to continue moving forward as if moving forward is a given, the alternative feels like borrowing trouble early...
So, a big project this weekend was moving the hens from the south side of the back yard to the east corner. The idea is to have them dig up all the weedy patches, which they greatly enjoy, and give them a sunnier patch for now, since it will be months before they need shelter from too much sun. Fresh ground is healthy for them, and I will be able to get into their former yard to do some much needed maintenance.
Their new enclosure has taller wire fencing, and we did a better job of creating a gateway which hopefully will no longer snag and tear my pinafores. I added in a low chook door to the fence, in the hopes of finally being able to deploy my chicken hurdles to give them additional access to more areas to clear. In time, my plan is to have a kind of chicken "moat" around the edges of the yard, so they can remove and trim the weeds along the fenceline. Since only one of the two hens is currently laying, I need to get some work at least out of the both of them!
Farbjorn built a solid new chicken ramp up to their house, as when we moved the old house to its new location, the old ramp simply crumbled away; I'd made it of fairly thin plywood almost ten years ago, so it lasting this long was pretty good. The hope is that before we need to move this house again, the new improved chook house will be built, with a three part modular construction to make moving it a LOT easier. The current house is terribly heavy with the actual tarpaper and shingle roof attached. Their future house is meant to have a nice translucent corrugated roof of polycarbonate that will latch into place, and a separate raised base that their house will latch to, if all goes according to plan.
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Another really fun activity was that young E called ahead and said that she wanted to try out block printing. As one of the "aunties" I am just delighted to be able to share some handicraft time, particularly since L decided she also wanted to try...

By the end of the afternoon, they both had successfully completed a 44 inch strip of printed trim; the intention is that some of the new SCA underdresses for this summers camping season will be decorated with their own work. I am as pleased as they are, and the idea that we include some kind of craft project in future visits was greeted with great enthusiasm! 
I set them up with some ironed strips of the same shot cotton I use for making trim, and my assorted already carved trim stamps. I've not really done much handicraft with youngsters, and was impressed with how much they were able to do.

Thora was really good at encouraging L, who is just a bit younger and found it a little difficult to line the tiny stamps up. There really is a lot of hand eye coordination involved! I realised that the eraser end of a pencil makes a good roundel shaped stamp, which both girls took advantage of,. and which I am adding to my drawer of wee stamps for future use.
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Lest the adults feel left out, the sheepskin border on Thora's hat is almost completed. This odd fragment of beautiful fur is unusually tough, so it took quite a bit of effort to sew.

Rather than wear my hands out with the stitching, I did just enough to ascertain that the concept of stitching on edge partially inside the hat, and wrapping it over to the outside as a wide border, was going to work just as I hoped, creating a kind of furry "gasket" around the edge of the hat, which will make it delightfully toasty warm and snug when worn.

Once the fur border is stitched in place, the only remaining part of this project will be to fabricate a tiny metal "hat cone" to enclose and decorate the very top center of the hat, where all five of the embroidered panels come together. Should be done in time for when we start up our outdoor activities in May...
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February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 salted lemons turtleneck re-edgedbag to Goodwill
2 Noro shawlette sweater button repair-
3 new chook ramp gown neckline repair -
4 - cuff embroidery -
5 -moved chook yard -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

wishful Wednesday - N.E.D.?


in which our plucky heroine struggles to maintain equanimity

it is always a worry and a niggling fear. there is never trust. Will there be a future me? for the last five years since cancer leapt from maybe to yes, I don't plan well any more. I don't behave as if I believed in future me. Now for the second time since then, a call that says: abnormal cells. In my center is the opposite feeling from how it felt with G, to know I was loved. Then there was a warm brightness in my middle, like a tiny radiant star. This feels more like a dead zone, a cold heaviness that continually creeps up into my eyes, forcing moisture out. About a year after my treatment, the every three month paps found abnormal cells, but it turned out to be a common viral infection, that eventually my body overcame, and it went dormant. After three years, the protocol is only one pap per year, and indeed, my oncologist said last week at my five year checkup, that everything looked good and we didn't even need to do them any more. Glad that I pushed for the testing. Not glad to get the phone call on Monday. it is always a worry and a niggling fear. there is never trust.

So, today was a long bus ride out to the westside cancer center, for a more intensive exam and more tests, because that is where Dr M is located, only coming to the eastside center one day a month. And waiting until March seemed less than ideal. Things were running late at the oncology office, because reasons. So I was almost an hour late being seen. It seems that the abnormal cells they found were of a kind that should not be in my ladybits. So more swabbity samples taken, of several sorts, and then the colposcopy exam done with vinegar and with iodine, and then several sites were biopsied... And the biopsy part of the exam took a while to do, because Dr M is good and used local anasethesia, which helped during that part of the procedure. But on the hour and a half transit journey home again, it wore off, and I am really hurting down below now.

I have another appointment in ten days, to go over the test results. Am doing my best to try and regain equanimity and humor, both of which seem to have flown away... but for now, sleep and a hot pad will be my next step. These words I wrote five years ago somehow still seem relevant

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

3rd times the charm



in which our plucky heroine mixes the grape and the grain; or why did I think that crochet was hard?...

I am a knitter, and not a crocheter, (though I am for certain quite crochety). Nonetheless, when I finally finished the Noro shawlette, it was obvious that the inner edge really needed something to firm it up. Rather than add an i-cord border, since there was surely not enough left of my very precious Noro for that edging, but enough that a cautious single crochet edge could be eked out. Surprisingly, there were a few crochet hooks in the knitting needle drawers, and it was actually quite tidy and simple to add border, once the magic of YouTube reminded me of how to form the stitches.
While I do like the feather and fan lace pattern better than this simple eyelet stripe, I just didn't have the bandwidth to combine the heart-curve-shaping with the feather-and-fan patterning... and in this case, done is better than perfect.
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February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 salted lemons turtleneck re-edged-
2 Noro shawlette sweater button repair-
3 - gown neckline repair -
4 - cuff embroidery -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

salt and lemons


in which our plucky heroine preserves some abundance against future dearth...

Lemons do not grow here, not now, not without a hothouse. The kindliness of my friends provided me with a few more lemons than I ended up turning into juice for tea while I was ill, and rather than marmalade, said golden orbs are now started on their way to becoming a seasoning condiment. I was reminded to do this by the current monthly Mastery Challenge over on Food In Jars, which is "salt preserving"
As with any citrus preserving, if you are going to eat the outsides, you really do want to use organic to start with.. This preserve could not be easier: wash the lemons, cut a thin slice of the nubby top and bottom, cut partway through in at least four places around the sides (as if cutting into quarters... then pack the cuts with salt, and place in a jar that already has a layer of salt on the bottom.

Continue the process, filling the jar as snugly as possible with the salt encrusted lemons, then top up with some fresh squeezed juice and a good scattering of additional salt and close the jar. This can sit out on the countertop, as the salt and acidity gradually allow the lemons to soften as they pickle in their own juices.

Eventually the lemon rinds take on a unique tang, and can be sliced or chopped into other dishes to add a particular savor. I am fond of adding a little bit to a batch of rice, along with some fresh herbs, or if in the mood for a more elaborate meal, some Moroccan style chicken with olives and preserved lemons is good. There are many possible uses for salt preserved lemons...
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February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 salted lemons turtleneck re-edged-
2 - sweater button repair-
3 - gown neckline repair -
4 - cuff embroidery -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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Friday, February 10, 2017

make do and mend


in which our plucky heroine improved upon a make-do...

My favorite turtleneck knit top had become "worn to a ravelling" along the cuff edge, so whilst stuck at home, attempting to recover from the turrible rhinovirus, I decided to mend the edges by handstitching on a different stripey knit. Somehow, though, the contrast in scale didn't look quite right*...

... so, with a few snips of scraps and some more hand stitchery (a la Alabama Chanin), the edges now have a bit of extra embellishment, which makes the whole mending job look intentional, and rather a bit happier now.

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February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - turtleneck re-edged-
2 - sweater button repair-
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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* something about the narrowly striped cuffs reminded me of jammie cuffs from when I was a littley-kid, not the look I was intending or expecting. The square black dots OTOH put the mending strictly back in the handmade slow sewing camp...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday?


in which our plucky heroine is still sick but hopeful of a corner turned?

This is so tiresome, to still be sleeping huge chunks of each day. Wake up, do a little bit, then collapse back into bed. At least, after five days on eye drops, my eyes are clear. Sadly, my health itself continues as poorly as the news I read online. Which isn't helping.
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Earlier today, whilst still awake, I poked again at the idea of sorting out some new clothing sewing plans, since it was beginning to feel like my ideas earlier this year were too grandiose. It was about all the speed I could manage to do some very rough sketches, and then to snip up a few post-it notes, and see literally how various options would mix and match, and thereby meet this years SWAP guidelines. (While much of Acorn Cottage remains still disorganised or even still unsorted, it was a restful treat to know where the post-its were, and where the writing sticks, and the index cards for sketching. Someday, when I am not all puny and sick, the rest of the house will follow suit.)
Instead of all dresses, or woven blouses, am switching into the "uppers" category two knit turtleneck tops, in marled black/brown hemp and in dk grey/lt blue stripe hemp. This time of year knit turtlenecks are welcome, and they are fast to sew, being done in less than three hours start to finish. Done is better than perfect, and other more detailed garments can follow as I have leisure, or at least a modicum more energy.

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February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - turtleneck re-edged-
2 - sweater button repair-
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

under the wire


in which our plucky heroine is sick and tired of being sick and tired...

"Pace yourself. Doggedly master the art of slow, incremental magic."
- Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology, week of February 2
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Third times the charm, I hope. My attempts to knit self a new shoulder shawlette have been unsuccessful so far, for different reasons. Attempt #1 ended up a strange sea-slug shape, and was not really wearable. Attempt #2, while a beautiful shape in the abstract, turned out to be almost as bunchy when wrapped around a not flat human body. Fortunately, I didn't actually knit all the way to the finish on that version, but instead threaded a life line and tried it on, as I was beginning to have doubts. Ride the nopetopus, version #2.

Am beginning on Attempt #3, using my beloved Noro, but the shaping of my ravenwing shawl instead of the feather and fan comfort shawl. The curved shawl wings should lie more nicely along my shoulders with less bunching around the neck edge.
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Do you remember back in 2010, the year long preservation challenge "Can Jam" that Tigress sponsored? Well it was both fun and educational, and added just a bit more resilience to many a skillset. This year Marisa over at Food in Jars is sponsoring a similar year long food preservation challenge - the "Mastery Challenge". Since I missed the entire first month, (and it was marmalade, one of my favorites!) I shall attempt to play catch up, make some citrusy goodness to stock the pantry shelves, and see what else I can learn as the year goes on...
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After last month, which was excellent in the declutter/organise/repair aspect and fairly minimal in the things made aspect, it might be a good idea to focus attention on column #1 in February, should I ever, in fact, be done with being sick, (at least enough to run the scissors, the sewing machine, and the torch...)

February SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - turtleneck re-edged-
2 - --
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
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Friday, February 3, 2017

a very few Friday fragments


as our plucky heroine tap-types away whilst the wind howls around the corners of Acorn Cottage... (seriously, if home wind generation was at all affordable, a Useful Turbine on the roof here would take care of a great deal of my wintertime energy needs)

Continued progress on the new Noro shawl... this will be so useful and warm when finished, and will look well with every combination of my future clothing. Now I just need to get past being sick, so I can return to stitchery and enameling and all the rest of life
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More freezing rain today, and the farthest outside I walked was to feed and water the hens. Sick girl is still sick, though at least my eyes can now focus again, and the camera phone caught a few of the icicle motifs:

blue ice in the backyard


yin yang ice pellet deposits

Thursday, February 2, 2017

motorcycle jacket (accordion) gusset

in which our plucky heroine rides the wayback machine to save a bit of old but still useful data...

Okay, I'm going to try and explain what I call the "accordion gusset", which is used on the back armscye of motorcycle jackets to allow the riders arms to move freely in a forward direction, which as you can imagine is vital...

Now obviously this sketch is not to any particular scale, and (if your pattern does not have these gussets as drafted pieces) you might want to do some experimental mockups to determine the best width to allow your arm to move freely. This will not affect the armsceye seam or your sleeve, just the back of the jacket. If you have a back yoke, the gusset will need to rise as far as the shoulder seam.

There are two layers to the gusset, which is stitched together to form a kind of accordion pleat between the back and the sleeve. In leather, to make sewing the shoulder and side seam less difficult and lumpy, the under-layer of the gusset (which attaches to the sleeve) is cut wider than the upper-layer (which attaches to the back) and is offset by at least the width of the seam allowance (so as to not have several layered seams all needing to be stitched into one place). It can be offset more as a design element.

The edge/seam allowance/contour of the under gusset needs to be the same as the original armscye edge, with the other piece drafted to be further in towards the jacket body. I would probably sew the upper gusset to the back, turn and topstitch, then sew the under gusset to the upper gusset. From that point you can simply sew as usual, as the back of the jacket is now the same size as the original pattern.

I also used this concept for a wedding dress made for a friend, who wanted complete range of arm motion combined with a fitted set in sleeve. I did not offset the gusset at all, since the silk fabric was much thinner that riding leathers. By experimentation, we determined that extending the gusset under the arm, and gradually curving it away to nothing in the front armscye, would both leave the front of the bodice entirely undisturbed and allow her to move her arms freely both forward and directly overhead. When her arms were down, the gusset folded up neatly and unobtrusively.

This is a Useful Technique and is not often seen other than on riding leathers...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

wishful Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine looks in the mirror and sees pug eyes...

A week ago I went down with what I figured was an annoying cold/sore throat. Started feeling better on Sunday, but Monday my symptoms came roaring back, along with a sore and somewhat oozing right eye. Yesterday my eye was really inflamed and the whole socket was swollen, so was very grateful that the local clinic was able to fit me in to see the doctor. Fortunately my lungs and sinuses are completely clear. Picked up a prescription for antibiotic eye drops, based on my symptoms, and while the right eye is now somewhat less bulging, and I can actually focus it, my left eye, despite my best efforts to avoid cross-contamination, is now oozing and bulging, with tears dripping down my cheek. I look like a sick pug (and no, there will not be photos)

Fortunately I can simply apply the medicine to both eyes, and with luck, my wish to look human again and see clearly will be granted within a few days. I cannot help but wonder at the correlation between my current illness and the political situation. Breathing and swallowing hurts, and what has been happening here has indeed been "really hard to swallow". My eyes bulge and I cannot stop the harsh salt tears from falling, and indeed, I would be in tears anyway...

I am grateful for the not insignificant blessings of kindly friends and family, who have continued to check in on me during my illness, made sure that basic housely functions continued, and even brought me two bags of groceries so I would have food easy to prepare, ingredients for lemon honey garlic toddy, and even a whole roasted chicken so when I feel too ill to even cook, I can still be nourished. But what nourishes me the most is the strong confirmation that despite my many flaws, I am loved.