Monday, May 31, 2010

a bit about sewing + M3 day 28 and 31

What a month! dog drama, garden glitches, new ideas and old reliables...

My oldest friend S came down to visit over the weekend, and her being here helped with the difficult dog situation. We walked the backyard in the evening just before she had to return home, and took measurements so I can create a graph paper plan, to help with actually planning out garden beds and suchlike. I've been just kind of plunking things into the yard without an overall visual/dimensional plan, which has led to yard chaos and made a hard situation more difficult. My hope is that if I have a plan, I can gradually chip away at the needed work... What I want is garden beds, water barrels, some fruit trees and bushes, hens, and wood-chip paths, and what I have is hens, thigh high grass, random debris (with some useful bits), and a few empty planter boxes... I think I can.... I think I can...
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The weed in the backyard that I thought was giant Queen Annes Lace turns out is actually Poison Hemlock! Many thanks to clever S for the identification. I would have simply weed whacked it into oblivion, thereby scattering bits of deadly poison stems everywhere. It can't be composted, as it retains toxicity. (insert Mr.Yuck face here!)
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This is kind of nifty: see the whole of my MeMadeMay as a slideshow...

Been really enjoying getting back to sewing for myself. For those who are interested in moving towards the idea of garment sewing, or taking it up a notch, there will be another online challenge in the early fall - "Self Sewn September". Just like MeMadeMay, each person can decide what will be a challenge for them, so it is very much a start where you are kind of game. I'm definitely going to do it again, it was fun, and interesting to see what folks all over the world were doing (there were 80 participants). If you're curious, the sign-up post is here, and if anyone in Portland local wants to get together to sew, let me know...

Friday May 28th
blue/black print rayon tunic
navy corduroy jumper

Monday May 31st
black/grey polkadot dress
navy corduroy jumper

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Hoshi is not living here at Acorn cottage any more. I decided that despite my best efforts there was no realistic way for me to keep her safe and calm while I was not in the house.

going offline now, teardrops falling

Friday, May 28, 2010

brought to you by the letter U...

Unpleasant, unexpected but not unsurprising... In which our plucky heroine discovers that she has adopted a termite instead of a dog...

The things that are going well are that she is good about sitting, and fairly good about lying down. She is learning to wait while I go through the door first. She walks well on the leash, and we are working on her sitting when I stop. Wednesday evening we walked for about an hour and a half. Yesterday we had several walks during the day and a long one before bedtime. I am doing the "she must sit or lie down before interactions" thing I did that with Smokey her whole life.

Yesterday she seemed okay when I went away for about an hour to the library. I understand that the last several weeks have been traumatic for her. Today I went to work for a half day. I knew I was taking a chance...The data sheet said that she was not crate trained and was commonly left loose in the house, (of course no information on whether that was being left alone in the house, and no way of knowing if in fact any of the information from the former owners was in fact true.)

We had a morning walk, and I left her with water, and a rubber flying saucer toy stuffed with cheese. Obviously my being gone for almost five hours and leaving her alone was too long and she became anxious. When I came home, I found that she had chewed up my livingroom window and the carpeting in the front doorway. There are no apparent damages to her mouth and teeth. It was obvious that she was quite agitated. I said nothing, put away my groceries, and walked around the house quietly to see if there was any other damage. Then I smoothed back the carpet and took her outside for a walk, she sat nicely for me to put on the leash, and I made her wait until I went outside first.

When we came back to the house, I let her loose once she had sit, and began to do what I could to clear away the debris. (Later I once again offered dog food, and she once again ignored it) I also tried putting the bowl of food just inside the crate, and she showed no interest. (She basically hasn't eaten since she got here.)

She did not damage anything else in the house, just the window and the door. I do not blame her in any way, she is simply confused. I cannot lure her into the crate, and I certainly cannot shove her in, as she is a big strong full grown dog. I do not know how to crate train a dog that is not interested in food or treats. I am not sure what to do next. Obviously I cannot stay home all the time. The only other thing I can think of is to confine her to the bathroom when I am not at home. Given how much wood she chewed up today, I do not think that a baby gate for the kitchen would last very long.

This is all repairable, but I do not want her to be so stressed out or have her continue to destroy the house... (help of some kind is needed, not sure what to do now. I've sent out emails to the rescue group and to the behaviorist at the shelter...)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

she's a little confused...

There is a new 3 year old female Akita underfoot here at Acorn Cottage. I adopted her from the Oregon Humane Society shelter with the approval and screening of the NW Akita Rescue Kennel group. Brought her home yesterday evening, and am thinking that her new name will be Hoshi Akari ("star light"). Compared to Smokey, her fur is much lighter, and more of a very pale taupe than a dark grey. She's only a little shorter, and is currently a little on the chunky side for her size, but who am I to talk? I foresee lots of walks in our future...

new dog + M3 day 26 & day 27

Not a lot of focus on clothing the last few days, since all my attention has been on the Akita adoption process... brought her home from the shelter yesterday evening.
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Wednesday (day 26)
black/grey floral rayon top
grey chambray apron
(worn as mini-jumper)
black velour leggings
Thursday (day 27)
grey leafy print dress
black/white wool jumper
light blue handknit scarf

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

busy buzz buzz + M3 day 25

grey floral knit top
light blue jumper
denim jacket

Fortunately I wore a raincoat and hat today, as the heavens opened and dumped rain on my way home today. Absolutely MUST make a proper raincoat, the Goretex jacket only covers part of me, and my nether regions were soaked to the skin and shivery cold on the way home. Wet feet, wet squelchy socks and a soggy wet jumper-skirt. This floral shirt is was destined for Goodwill, but it has a kind of odd Hawaiian-tiki feel to the print, and another knit shirt is welcome in the rotation, at least for the rest of the month. This was the stitch it up quickly to try out the concept mock-up, and I used part of a jersey-knit bedsheet.

Yesterday morning I saw something remarkable. A bright bit of something darted across my peripheral vision when I was walking out my front door, away from the sage plant which is covered with purple flowers, and into the ornamental plum. I stopped totally still, and was able to see a tiny bird in the tree. A few moments later, it flew back to the sage, and I watched as the very small hummingbird dart from flower to flower, obviously having a wonderful breakfast of sage nectar. Pretty nifty way to start my day, which ended with the home visit and approval.

Monday, May 24, 2010

coming soon... ^*+*^___)

This evening was the home visit and evaluation by the volunteers from the Akita Rescue group, and Acorn Cottage was deemed suitable... Tomorrow they will email their pictures of my fenced yard and tidy (spacious?) home, and their evaluation of my character, to the shelter. Once I arrange transport, and pay the adoption fee, I can bring her home!

Soon there will be a new, somewhat confused, three-year-old Akita underfoot, and fairly soon, I hope, she will feel at home here, and Acorn Cottage will again have a guardian dog, and I will have a companion for my rambles.

I've been looking at Japanese words and names online; haven't yet found the right new name for her, I had been thinking of "shinju" meaning "pearl", but the word apparently has some alternate meanings...

I am hoping that the shelter will be able to find out what her vaccination status is, from her former owners, hopefully in the last three years she has had some of the needed shots. I will be needing transport to pick up dog food too. (I had thought about getting some on Sunday, when I had the use of a car, but very superstitiously decided not to jinx the evaluation)

liminality + M3 day 24

The specifity of words has always delighted me. Liminal is such a precise word, for what feels such a very imprecise state of being. The word jumped into my mind when I walked into my dark kitchen this morning, the daylight leaking under the almost closed shades, and illuminating the washed-but-not-yet-put-away canning jars on the windowsill.My life feels a lot like those jars...
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Yesterday I had the loan of a car, and spent a big chunk of the day skittering across Portland doing some of the errands that are impossible by bus: I now have the last bit that I need for the bedroom floors project, two (heavy) rolls of HEAVY plastic sheeting to use between the underlayment and the concrete slab. There are three large bags of potting soil on the front porch, which would have been impossible to tote home even with my wheelie-granny cart, and three tomato starts, two red roma/paste and one yellow pear cherry tomato. I was very circumspect at Portland Nursery, but I did succumb to impulse and brought home a young blackcurrrant. My yard and garden are definitely in an in-between place right now. Hopefully there will be some gaps in the raininess that will allow me to mow again in the back yard; the grass is once again alarmingly shaggy.
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Sometime in the next few days I will have a home visit from the volunteers from the Akita rescue group, to check out Acorn Cottage and environs and to meet and talk with me about adopting the dog I met last week. If approved, the adoption will go forward. That will be an enormous shift, welcome, but signifigant. The shape that living with a dog gives to life is not trivial, I miss the structuring of my day as much as I miss the company. The safety and the joy far more than balance out the challenge of occasional travel. After all, even in the almost year since I had to say goodbye to my beloved Smokey, I have only travelled away from Acorn Cottage maybe two or three times. So perhaps before too long there will be another big Akita head looking out the front window, and my late night walks will resume. I have been looking online at lists of Japanese words and names, feeling like she deserves a new name for a new start.
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Even the worm bin is a hotbed of transformation. Well, it always is, but this morning I found these wee little mushrooms in there. I had recently added in some raked up leaves to mix with the damp newspaper, figuring that the worms would enjoy a varied diet. Obviously, fungal spores are ubiquitous, but I wanted to take a picture before moving the bedding to add this weekends food scraps to the bin, the mushrooms are about a quarter inch across and very fragile.
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This week will be work-full, as not only is it a house-cleaning week, but there are at least three projects for others that I want to complete before Thursday, so that the folks have a chance to take the finished bits with them to Egils or Grand Thing. I will be staying home, and if any of my friends are staying home this weekend, let me know and I'll do a Crafternoon on Sunday; I think that my old friend Sharon will be coming down from Olympia for a Portland visit too.
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grey leafy print dress
indigo cotton jumper
dark grey wool cloth socks
glass eye-bead necklace
A little brighter weather today, but I ran back inside after taking this picture and put on my sweater, the day only looked warm enough for "shirtsleeves".

Sunday, May 23, 2010

on decorative re-fashioning + M3 day 23

Is it really almost Memorial Day? Hard to believe when it is chilly enough this morning to make this kind of wintertime layering feel comfortable...
grey rayon knit top
light blue jumper
grey chambray apron
stripey wool re-fashioned vest **
blue handknit shawl/scarf
blue Polartec leggings
** I have several of these re-fashioned vests made from various combinations of old thin soft lambswool sweaters, They are fun and fast to make, compared with hand-knitting, and are a good way to re-use thrifted sweaters that are perhaps too damaged to simply wear as is. There is a great and heady sense of freedom in simply doing a kind of cut and paste by snipping old sweaters to pieces, and reconfiguring them with simple running stitch and blanket stitch in wool yarn...

This is the stenciled patch on the back of my re-fashioned sweater vest. (Kanji say "akita dog".) Stencils are a great way to decorate pieces of clothing, as cutting stencils is rather labor intensive, but can be used many times. If I know that the design I want to make will be used only once, I will do freezer paper stenciling, but if I suspect I will want to use a design several times in the future, I cut the stencil from plastic instead. (report binder covers work well). There is a bit more information about multiple color stencil process on my website.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

M3 - day 22

I don't know where our springtime weather went, it is really cold today... Good thing that I just finished my "fess dancetty" shawl. A bit bigger and longer than my other shoulder shawls, I can actually wear it in that folk-shawl style where you wrap it across the front and tie it in the back. It is warm tied that way, but looks rather dorky in a well-fed northern European way, so I wore it as a regular scarf today.
grey stripey flannel top
navy corduroy jumper
blue wool handknit shawl/scarf

Friday, May 21, 2010

fantastic Friday + M3 day 21

While jam making proceeded apace, the postman delivered a slightly battered and taped-up package here, addressed to Alison/Acorn Cottage. I was not expecting a parcel, and the return address was not one familiar to me. With a modicum of trepidation I opened the box...
A present...for me...?... why yes, it was... what unexpected fabulous-ness! A whole box of delightful treats, from Someone who had been reading about my SWAP sewing, and followed the link over to my blog. She'd picked things she figured out I would enjoy, and was completely successful. Just look...
There is organic jasmine green tea, a bottle of agave syrup, and Celtic sea salt; two different bottles of Castile soap (Dr B's lavendar and Ballard organic grapefruit), plus a tidy refillable foaming soap dispenser that will fit perfectly on my narrow bathroom sink, even a soft nail brush to help me clean up after gardening. In addition, she sent along TWO Useful patterns, Butterick 5362, which will be a good jumping off point for my experment in re-creating the Au Bonheur dress in my size, and Vogue 8499 the Marcy Tilton pants pattern I like so much. She even printed out pages of tips on using the pants pattern, which will come in VERY handy, since sewing pants is something that I haven't much experience with. Tucked in along all of these goodies was a handy sturdy recycled plastic shopping tote bag, which was immediately put to use this afternoon on my grocery shopping trip.

SO ten thousand thank-yous to my mystery gift sender "Jan"! I will certainly be enjoying all of this, and I will have fun looking in my stash for suitable fabrics for the patterns, to sew once the currently cut-out batch of dresses is finished.

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grey & black floral rayon knit top
black/white** wool jumper
handknit wool sweater
wool felt rose brooch
grey Polartec fabric socks
Today was really cold, I don't think it ever got above 55F, and quite windy and damp. I did spend hours in the kitchen jamming with the rhubarb, but even so, anytime I stepped away from the stove it was cold, I've already turned off the heat 'till next winter. As I knew that there is always a possibility of decorative excitement when jam-making, and did not want to take a chance on staining my newer clothes, I pulled this very old jumper out of the closet. It's at least fifteen years old, and while the wool is still in fairly good shape, the edge bindings and shoulder straps are quite worn. I often make those components from corduroy, as it wears quite well for a long time.

It has taken me a while to learn what makes the most sense in terms of construction, so that my clothing will be durable, but also so that I do not put more effort into the finishing work than makes sense. For a while there, I was really doing a lot of finish work, making flat-felled seams and french seams, so that the insides of a garment were as well finished as the outside. What I realised was that the fabric was wearing out long before ever the seams gave way, and that spending the extra hours on the seams was not necessary, that I could zigzag or pink the seam allowances and that would be good enough. Now that I have the serger, finishing seams is a doddle.

I tried wearing one of the felt rose brooches today, (not while cooking of course lest it would become a pink and white rose) but while out running errands. I'm trying to get in the habit of wearing brooches more often, I like them, but don't really know how to wear them well.

** a closer look at the woven in pattern of the black and white wool; I have a real weakness for interesting weave patterns in fabric...
...the reverse side has tiny interlocking black and white diamonds.

Tigress Can Jam - the gang of 4

In which our plucky heroine spends hours in the kitchen...

first, a tune, to get in the mood for jammin'
Aside from the baggie of stalks from the rhubarb fairy, I had a nice 2¼ lb bag of lovely red stalks from N. to work with. There were at least three kinds of jam that appealed, a "basic" strawberry-rhubarb preserves, the oddly named "blubarb", and lastly a "jam of four reds": rhubarb, strawberry, blood orange, and redcurrant, which was an inspired fantasy one early morning...

Started the basic on Wednesday evening; I was initially inspired by the protocol set out here, to very gently stew the fruit, and separate out the sweetened juice to cook it down, then add back in the fruit towards the end, for a fresh flavor. Since I still had plenty of strawberries in the freezer (they'd been hidden under things, a chest freezer is most economical to run, but my inventory skills are rather lacking), I simply measured out four pints and set them in a large bowl of sugar overnight. The last two days I simply brought the mixture to a boil each morning and evening, then poured it back into a large bowl to cool. Somehow, this morning, I ended up adding in a pound of finely cubed rhubarb, the zest of one organic orange, and a quarter, and boiled the whole shebang until it reached a good thick consistency, (I totally forgot about straining out the strawberries) then jarred and water bath processed it for 15 minutes.

Bluebarb sounded interesting, not sure if it will be delicious, or detestable, so I will make a very small trial batch. The recipe calls for 3 cups of each fruit, 4 to 6 cups of sugar and a ¼c of lemon juice; I decided to try with 4 oz rhubarb, 4 oz blueberries, 8 oz of sugar, and add the 1 T of lemon juice per pint jar that is suggested for safe acidity. This amount made only two tiny 4 oz jars + about a tablespoonful, and I obviously did something wrong, since instead of jam, I ended up with something more like purple sticky fruit toffee. This was only apparent after I had processed the two little jars, when the tablespoonful became a solid mass. The flavor, before it solidified, was quite good though; the sweet spiciness of blueberries is a good friend with the rhubarb; the color is an amazing vivid royal purple. I might try this again if more gift rhubarb comes my way, or perhaps attempt a blueberry rhubarb jelly...

Saving the best for last: the jam of four Reds (which I am calling the Gang of Four Jam (an original recipe)... as mentioned, I woke up one morning with this idea, remembering that as well as the stashed strawberries, there is a very small bag of red currants in the freezer, from the young currant bush in my front yard. According to my reading, redcurrants are quite high in pectin, and would be a good addition to strawberry rhubarb, plus there were the last of the blood oranges still sitting in the fruit basket. All of these can be water-bath processed, so I figured it was okay to follow my imagination.

Gang of 4 Jam - ingredients (by weight)

1 pound rhubarb
4 oz redcurrants
2 blood oranges
1 pound strawberries
1½ pound sugar
I cut up the strawberries in halves or quarters, picked over the redcurrants to make certain that there were no little bits of stem left, chopped the rhubarb rather finely into about ⅜" cubes, and first zested the blood oranges, then squeezed and added the deep red juice. I then added a pound and a half of sugar to the bowl, stirred it up, and left it to start dissolving and drawing out the fruit juices.
After a bit , when I'd finished the waterbath canning of the other jams, I dumped the mixture into a pan and started boiling it down into jam. It never did reach 220F, but seemed quite ready at 218F, and a bit leary of another batch of toffee, I decided to go ahead and process it. According to the National Center for Food Preservation, rhubarb should be processed for 15 minutes, the same for fruit purees, so that is what I did...

Now my kitchen is full of jars! Gang-of-4 jam - one eight-ounce + seven four-ounce jars, Strawberry-rhubarb jam - 4 eight-ounce + 1 four-ounce jars, Bluebarb jam or toffee - 2 four-ounce jars
And of course it is necessary to do a tiny taste test, with tea and toast...
Gang-of-4 is much brighter in color, with a more jamlike texture. The redcurrant made a HUGE difference, the natural pectins let the mixture get to a setting point far more quickly. The strawberry rhubarb is significantly darker, having cooked much longer to thicken. They are both delicious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

thoughtful Thursday + M3 - day 20

blue long sleeved knit top
grey chambray jumper (worn as skirt)
dark grey wool vest
denim jacket
I sometimes wear my jumpers as "skirts" by wearing a blouse or top over them; it's a way to get the look of a skirt without having to actually wear one. The knit top has sleeve extensions and a wide neck binding made from a thrifted floral knit shirt that was far to small for me to wear, but too nice a color and fabric for me not to bring home. The body of the shirt was one of the first t-shirts I made; the stenciled painted design says "akita dog" in kanji, with a silhouette of an Akita.

It seemed an appropriate shirt to wear to visit the animal shelter. I had a long visit with the Akita that is up for adoption, spent some time with her on a leash outdoors, and also inside in one of the big indoor classrooms. She is a lot better looking than her photograph, and seems intelligent and responsive. Like any Akita, she is confused and somewhat shut-down at being in such a strange environment, not to mention that she had just been spayed on Monday, but I was pleased that by the end of the time I spent with her, she had started figuring out that I wanted her to sit when I stopped, and that sitting was the way to get dog treats. I am going to sleep on the idea of having her become a part of life here at Acorn Cottage, and let my subconscious mind/intuition have a chance to be heard as well. The next step in the process would be scheduling a home visit from the rescue group.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

wishful Wednesday + M3 - day 19

rayon Hawaiian shirt
light blue cotton jumper
Today was warm, and a housecleaning day, so this rather utilitarian outfit was my choice. I'm thinking about turning this jumper into another apron, since I'm not entirely happy with how the bodice doesn't fit quite right, being a little too snug. (I've re-done those pattern pieces on the more recent jumpers.) Or, since I've more of this fabric, I could simply make a new bodice....

I've cut out two more summer dresses, both dark thin cotton, one a kind of random ikat, and one a black chambray. I might do some kind of textile art on the black one, maybe stenciling or printing. I am starting to run out of dress lengths of summer fabric, I have a half bolt of striped blue cotton, and that is the last of it. I'd like to find enough fabric for at least one more.
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Today I filled out an application for adopting this three year old Akita. I do not know if I will meet their standards for a dog home...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

staying home + M3 - day 18

I'm not going to Crown this weekend, and not going out of town for Egils or Grand Thing next weekend. The last weekend of the month (Memorial Day weekend) would usually be my Crafternoon Teaparty - is anyone going to be in town besides me, or will I drink tea and eat snacks all alone...?...

grey bamboo rayon top
navy corduroy jumper
Maneki-neko enamel necklace
The wind today is really making me wish for a home wind turbine. Slightly cooler weather means that layers are again a good option. I wrote about making the twist front top here on my sewing blog, and have made it once in this soft thin grey bamboo-rayon. This is not a design that I will make often, I wanted to try it after seeing it make the rounds on the sewing sites, but it is an awful lot more work for a fairly small return. I am not so very much into the variety that each of my garments must be different, I prefer the variety to come either from interesting fabric, or from handwork like embroidery or surface decoration
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The enamel set in this necklace started out as a demo from one of my painting enamel workshops. The enamel is about 1" x ¾", and the finished piece is called "Tea With Maneki-Neko"; there is a tiny teacup painted at the cat's feet with steam rising, and the kanji above the setting is "tea". About a year after I had completed the pendant, I found the cream colored graduated beads in a bundle of random junk from a rummage sale, I'm not sure if they are bone or celluloid, but they are a great match for the color of the background enamel.
close up of Maneki-neko pendant

This evening I'll be working on some enamel catching up, and am thinking about teaching some enameling workshops this summer. I take breaks from the work, to save my poor badly wired wrist, but each time I come back to it remembering how much I love it. And really, anything I do causes more wrist drama/trauma.
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(click to embiggen)
The fabric that I used for yesterday's dress is handwoven very simple double ikat, from Guatamala. It is only two colors, cornflower blue and white. You can see how the warp threads were tie-dyed, and then were shifted in chunks when setting up for weaving, there are jagged edged white spots on the blue ground. The weft thread is also tie-dyed, so there are irregular single lines of white crossing at random intervals, the whole fabric has a wonderful visual texture. I love ikat, (also sometimes called jaspe, or kasuri, terms vary depending on the culture)

Monday, May 17, 2010

dressed for rhubarb: musings and media + M3 - day 17

Finished the cornflower blue ikat dress (except for the pockets). The CanJam entries are due this week, so tonight I will start the jammin'...
cornflower blue ikat dress
grey chambray apron
multi-blue bead neckalce
This cornflower blue ikat fabric is rustic, but very soft, so much that I have been hesitant to put my usual patch pockets on the skirt panels. I have an idea though, of a different pocket style that I used years ago, must let that idea percolate a day or two.

The apron is one that I refashioned from an old vest from my Mom, when I visited there last time. I used up every scrap of it, so the gores are patched together rather oddly, but it works as an apron just fine, the edges are bound with pieces from one of my Dad's old flannel shirts.

The beads, made by my friend S, were part of an elaborate swap, and have been re-strung several times; I keep trying to find the best way to show off their amazing details, twenty-two handmade glass beads, each different, and mostly eye beads, in shades of blue and black and grey and white.

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One of the discussion topics on the MeMadeMay flickr group was what folks like, if anything, to listen/watch while sewing; this was my reply:
Occasionally I listen to my Pandora stations, and sometimes I just want it to be quiet so that I can focus if I'm working on a difficult bit.

Lately I have been using YouTube as a kind of personal radio station, which forces me to get up and walk to the other room where the computer is every three to ten minutes to select another song. Though it sounds very disruptive, it is actually a good thing for my body, to not just sit in one position, and none of my sewing is something that cannot be stopped and started. Plus I can choose my favorite performers, and never have to listen to ads.

I find it fascinating how greatly folks vary in what they like as "auxiliary" input whilst working. I have many friends that watch movies while sewing, which I could never do, and once shared a studio with someone who listened to NPR all day, which took me about a year to adapt to. I can listen to instrumental music, and people singing, but any kind of people talking is too distracting. Is it odd then, that I actually enjoy sewing in the company of friends, though I am not as productive as I would be alone...

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I'd mentioned last week that I am quite enamored with the artwork of Rob Ryan... This time-lapse film shows a week long papercut being made; "each second of the film represents about 20 minutes of cutting."
More about him here or see more of his work in his shop
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

lazy Sunday + M3 - day 16

In which our heroine procrastinates too much...

A whole lot of laundry got washed, and some dried in the sunlight. Some more fabric was sorted, one lost thing was found, and another dress is underway, this one in a cornflower blue ikat from the Monday morning parking lot sale at OCF last year. Pre-washing the fabric was a good idea, not only did it shrink, as handwoven often does, but the blue dye leaked all over. Fortunately, slightly blue towels and sheets are not a problem.

It was HOT today, compared to last week. I didn't want to move dirt in the hot sun. The air conditioning on the bus was very welcome. My Fess Dancetty shawl is more than half done. Talked with the nice folks over at Modern Domestic about getting some new feet for my sewing machine, and found out that they have had a serger class that is actually affordable, hopefully they will run it again this year...

One of the eggplant starts is happy and the other one is not. The two paste tomato starts need to go in the ground. Tomorrow. Even if it is raining. (and somewhere I've more wall-o-water plant shelters) And at least one cherry tomato for sharing with the neighbors still to find and bring home.

stripey cotton gauze top
indigo cotton jumper
glass eye bead necklace
raku and blackbird necklace

Simple and easy and indigo blue. Nope, I'm not obsessive, I just know what I like. Somewhere I read that the good colors to wear are the ones that are in your hair and eyes (and skin tones if you like red). My eyes are blue and grey and my hair is mousebrown and grey. I made most of the eyebeads at one of the "play with glass" parties a few years ago, and also strung the necklaces at various times in the last few years. The raku beads originally came from a pottery studio sale in Seattle, and have been part of several configurations of jewelry over the last two decades, the blackbird bead is glass and was a special find at the big Guild sale last year.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

not bored + M3 - day 15

For the last two weeks, writing daily here, but only about my clothing. Really there is a whole additional life that continues on, and since I'm writing here anyway, mayhap a daily comment as well as a daily costume...

Today was a work cleaning house day, re-scheduled since there were plumbing issues at C's house earlier. Discovered by asking that lapis is indeed metamorphic. Once work was done I scampered across town to the library, an hour late to the Rites of Passage art workshop. Missed all the lecturing, but had an hour of cut and paste and paint. Earlier today, I made a photomontage, for the background of this piece.
A bit of cut paper (inspired by the work of Rob Ryan, the British papercut god artist), and some white acrylic paint; it seemed the germ of an idea. Once home, a bit more time and the original montage was combined with parts of the quick collage. Each time I play with Photoshop, I discover more things that I can do with it. I may print this one out on good paper...
(click to embiggen)

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paisley cotton voile blouse
grey chambray jumper
One thing I've noticed from taking photos of my outfits is how very much more interesting they look when I add an accessory, like a shawl, or some jewelry. I'm definitely trying to remember to wear a necklace or something everyday.

Right now I am on a roll of sewing summer dresses, having dreamed for years about having a weeksworth of popover dresses, or as I'm now thinking of them "Kiki dresses" Soon enough t'will be triple digit temperatures and any layers more than one will be too many. I've scrabbled out of the fabric piles enough to make at least five more: dk blue ikat, cornflower blue ikat, blue houndstooth linen, black chambray, and twotone blue stripey...

Thursday evening I was obviously channeling Fjorlief the Forgetful, since I left my spiffy new sunhat at potluck. Well it was nighttime by then, and the lovely E was giving me a lift home, and N had just gifted me with a huge bunch of fresh rhubarb from her garden, and well... I forgot. Since it will be a while before the wayward hat comes home, and the sun will keep on shining nonetheless, I made another one:
This grey sunhat is made from home-dec cotton fabric in an oriental lattice weave. Decided that more than one summer hat was a Good Thing, grey not indigo, and not all fluffy/flowery. The eyelet twill tape gives it a vaguely steampunk look, and now I can coordinate my clothing and my hats!
a close up of the hatband
Interesting eyeletted twill tape from Bolt, sold as an undyed cotton, and overdyed as part of my experiments earlier this year, trying to get "silvery grey". Initially intended as jumper trim, it makes a great hatband.

From start to finish a hat like this takes between two to three hours to complete, from cutting out the fabric, to wearing it in the backyard. Most of the sewing is done by machine, with some handwork to finish the inner hatband and attach the decorative outer hatband. I assemble the hat quite differently than the pattern instructions suggest, since I add a bias bound outer edge, and finish the inner edge in a way that is more similar to how this child's hat is constructed

Friday, May 14, 2010

M3 - day 14

cotton print popover dress
(black with grey polkadots)

(in which our goofy heroine channels her inner Kiki) Just finished stitching this one up this morning. Definitely not the best picture, the dappled tree light makes it more arty and less informative, grey on black is hard to photograph anyway. I suspect this one will get a lot of wear; the polkadots are so playful and the dark color will set off any jewelry I might choose to wear.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

M3 day 13

grey print popover dress
What I wore today was the same dress that I wore yesterday. But without the jumper. Because it was a much warmer day, and because I caught the pocket on the jumper on something and tore the dress, just a little, right where the pocket attached. Now I need to figure out how to mend it. (so even though the picture is from yesterday, I didn't take a new picture, because it would look the same, but without socks, because it was a warm day) And I am almost finished with another of these dresses, which I want to wear tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

M3 - day 12

grey print popover dress
grey print popover dress

black silk noil jumper

grey Polartec cloth socks
Last night I finished the new popover dress... a fun Ikea fabric, the print is all tree leaves and has acorns in various sizes. I'm pretty happy with how I was able to get the upper bodice and shoulders to fit, not perfect, but much better.

I'm thinking that this may become a go-to summer dress pattern, it is relatively fast to make and easy to wear. The bodice is an adapted variant on an OOP Vogue pattern #2545 (I changed the location and the angle of the shoulders, moved them inwards about two inches, and a bunch of other smaller changes); I drafted the sleeve and skirt gore patterns. I have at least three other dress lengths of summerweight cotton, a charcoal chambray, a black with grey polkadots, and an indigo random ikat, all of which will be suitable. (I also have some two tone mid-blue stripe which could be either inspired or aweful, I'll have to ponder that one...)

But since it is not yet quite summertime, with the temperature bouncing around every day, I'll wear it as an underdress. I'm thinking that this would look better with some jewelry, or dare I say a shoulder shawl, as is it seems a little stark. It's interesting how thigs look different in a photo than when looking with my live eyes; I noticed that when photographing the interior of Acorn Cottage several years ago, and it certainly seems to be the case here. This feels a bit obsessive taking pictures of my clothes for a month, though the change in perspective may be useful. Probably as close as I can get to seeing the outside of me as others do...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

M3 - day 11

blue and black floral T-shirt

dark blue corduroy jumper

grey wool vest with striped binding

braided T-shirt necklace

green wool cloth socks

Wearing the same clothes two days in a row is not commonly done, though I had a friend in elementary school who wore the same dress all week long, hewing to an older method of dress. Yesterday the blue jumper wasn't quite finished, but I wore it anyway; now with patch pockets added, it is ready for anything. My "necklace" is made by braiding strips of cotton jersey cut from a T-shirt, following instructions found on IS•LY.

I'm really liking how the patchy hem edge is echoed by the stripey border on the vest; which was a project made at one of the Church of Craft meetings (back when there was an active group here in Portland) Several thin soft wool sweaters were cut apart and recombined, the sleeves became front lapels, edge binding cut from a striped scrap, and an embroidered applique added to the center back, and everything hand stitched together with thin wool yarn. There are several of these re-fashioned vests on the wool closet shelf, and they get worn almost as often as the shoulder shawls, and for similar reason. It is much faster to recombine already knit yardage than to knit a new vest, and it is a way to use clothing too small, or too worn to make something fun and funky...

bird applique in running stitch

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That was odd, it is only May, and only sixty degrees out, but an ice cream truck just drove down the street... I'm sorry, but if it is cool enough to be wearing extra layers, 'tis too cold for ice cream.

Monday, May 10, 2010

M3 - day 10, + media Monday

striped grey flannel top

blue corduroy jumper

black velour leggings

Last night the corduroy jumper was finally finished, not all that different from any of my other jumpers, just a darker blue, and the patchy trim on the hem edge is brand new. At our Crafternoon swap last month, the dark blue corduroy was one of the goodies that ended up here, swapped for some plum colored silk. What can I say, the silk had been in my stash for over ten years, and as soon as I saw the corduroy I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

{edited to correct on Wednesday AM: I was obviously not awake when I put this outfit together, the handknit wool Daybreak shawl was not made by me, but was part of the "Wee Warm Wishes" swap I participated in on Ravelry. I am developing quite a nice collection of "shoulder shawls", but this one is quite special, being the only one that was a gift rather than "made by me" }
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I also braved Ikea this weekend, to pick up a few needed bits (cutting board for the kitchen and a front door mat) and an extra yard of Cecilia. When I visited my folks last year, my mom bought me three lengths of Ikea fabric, the Cecilia was for a shirt, but I'd since decided that a light summer dress would be more useful fun, hence the extra yard. That is now all cut out, ready to be sewn this week; hopefully my experiment with moving the pattern shoulders in two inches will be successful.
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Sometime Sunday afternoon, the rhubarb fairy came to visit... 3/4 of a pound left in a baggie by the front door, no note, very mysterious and very welcome. After all, this month's CanJam is just around the corner, and the frozen strawberries left from last summer are lonely for their tangy friend.
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More knitting on the bus, the long trip out to Cascade Station was a good chance to make progress on my Fess Dancetty shawl. This was good, since the day before a great wave of sleepiness moved through my neighborhood and I ended up falling asleep for 5 (five!!) hours on Saturday afternoon. Talking to neighbors the next day, apparently I wasn't the only one, the sunshine had an odd kind of homeopathic effect. Warm sun, yard work, sleep now!
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That sunshine dried three loads of laundry, as various bits of bedding were cycled through the washer and onto the clothesline. The scent of line-dried cloth is very distinctive, and very delightful, even here in the heart of the city. Last night there was a big pile of dried ready-to-be-folded laundry on the chairs next to the computer desk, and I kept putting off folding it, just because it smelled so wonderful!
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

M3 - day 9

stripey gauze top

indigo cotton jumper

handknit sweater
Focusing on my clothing this much is making me a bit bored with my clothes, in a way that never occurs when I simply get up in the morning, get dressed, and go about my busy day... Having so few choices usually feels very good, and easy, rather than limited and monotonous.

I think that making the needed summertime clothing will take care of that feeling, and I am going to modify my original plan for M3 to remove my chosen requirement for me-made socks, to allow time for making summer dresses. So the new modified plan is: for the month of May I will wear all clothing that I make myself, excluding shoes, socks, and raingear.

My longtime goal is to have created my clothing in sets of eight, so as to allow for laundry no more than once a week. So far, only in underthings have I managed to make enough pieces, but undies are smaller and less sewing time is needed. I imagine the luxury of eight jumpers, eight under-dresses (summer dresses that can be worn under jumpers and over long sleeve tops as a extra layer in winter), eight long sleeve tops, and eight pairs of leggings... not to mention at least eight pair of knee socks! Gradual progress towards this goal is ongoing, the challenge is to get there before the current garments are completely worn out.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

M3 - day 8

blue/purple linen popover dress

green wool socks

denim sunhat
And now for something very different... This dress is rather an anomaly in my wardrobe. It is very comfortable to wear, and always gets lots of positive comments from people. The color makes it very noticeable, which is why I take it out of the closet very infrequently, it makes me feel like the dress is wearing me rather than the other way around. I like the big patch pockets, but the dress style is rather shapeless; I would like the dress better if it was in more subtle colors. These were the colors that I wore several decades ago, and this was intended as a summertime festival fair-going dress. But for walking around the farmers's market on a warm day, the linen is breezy and breathable. I did the neckline embroidery a long time ago, and while it is hard to see in the photo, all the seam allowances have running stitch decoration as well.

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One week into the month of MeMadeMay -

I've learned that there are some real gaps in my me-made wardrobe. I have only two short sleeved tops, and aside from today's brightly colored dress, have no short sleeve dresses...

Aside from the one remaining jumper that I have cut out and partially finished, a passel of lightweight dresses for the summertime are next in line. The new plan is to finish adapting the bias front top pattern to fit my shoulders well somewhat more closely, and use that as a dress bodice pattern. If I am thoughtful about what fabric(s) I choose, the summer dresses will work for layering under various jumpers when the year turns cooler again.

The fabric socks are a qualified success. The two wool pair , with all the seam allowances hand-stitched flat, are quite comfortable. The Polartec pair, that I put together on the serger are not quite as comfy, the serged seam is rather too noticeable. One the other hand, that pair I sewed a wide band of lacey elastic around the top edge, and they stay up without garters. I have my doubts about how well the synthetic fabric will wear. Not sure if going the whole month with me-made socks is actually useful. I might bail on that one aspect, and focus on new summer dresses, as that has been on the todo list for many a long month...

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Friday, May 7, 2010

M3 - day 7

grey rayon knit top

black silk noil jumper

black velour leggings

grey wool cloth socks

handknit wool shawl
Today started out quite chilly, as often on clearsky days, but since it stayed clear, the sunshine ended up making the afternoon quite warm, and I was roasting in my dark layered clothes when Brenna and I went to Portland Nursery. The new sunhat helped a bit, I desperately need to get sunglasses, and obviously I need to come up with some one layer dresses for warmer weather.

The morning errands were quite successful, I now have a suitable bundle of 1x trim for the kitchen project, which will be joined by some sturdy oak 2x, and soon the lovely pot-rack will have a home actually above the stove where it belongs. While everything here takes oh so long to accomplish, progress does happen, and this week I am continuing to be grateful to my awesome friends who share both their time and transport, but also who gift me with the actual lumber!

I've been joking about putting a commemorative plaques somewhere here in Acorn Cottage, but truly each aspect or part of the house that has either been gifted or shared the work is enlivened in my memory, has a kind of story-told-depth that adds a kind of "density of meaning" to my home; I look at my hand-carved headboard, or a lamp, or a piece of lumber, or a switch that now works, and I see the love of friends and family...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

M3 - day 6

blue cotton gauze T-shirt

grey chambray jumper

blue denim jacket

grey Polartec socks

eye-bead & enamel necklace

denim sunhat
Not all that different from day 1, though with a different lighter weight shirt. The exciting thing is that I made a sunhat today, using this pattern. I don't follow the construction instructions though, since I like using bias binding to finish the hat brim. I also tried a different way of attaching the crown of the hat to the brim, and it made a smoother join, though it was a real pain and I broke two sewing machine needles. I am very happy with the new hat, and transferred all my blue felt and fabric hat flowers. So if the sunshine comes to visit, I'm ready...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

dog day dreaming

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I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, but look at this cute young akita. I've written to the person who posted the ad, but haven't heard back yet...

M3 - day 5

blue and black floral T-shirt
light blue jumper (worn as skirt)
striped wool vest
handknit wool "Stratus" scarf
grey Polartec socks
There is a reason why I prefer to wear jumpers, or dresses, rather than the common "jeans + whatever" or the often suggested "separates", and today's picture makes it clear. I'm a little teapot short and stout..., and for me I feel that a one piece dress or jumper looks better, less choppy and more smooth, not to mention that it is more comfortable. I've realised that during the cold weather I mostly wear thrifted cotton knit tops under my jumpers, another "gap" in my me-made wardrobe. Probably since those and socks and shoes are the only things that I can sometimes purchase and have them more or less be wearable.

The Polartec socks here are an experiment, I'm not sure about how well they will work. What I've done differently is to use the warm synthetic knit fabric instead of bias cut wool. The pattern was then MUCH too loose and required significant taking in. I ended up also adding a band of elastic to the top edge, in an attempt to have them stay up without garters. The fabric is soo soft and comfy, but I don't know how well it will wear. I also attempted sewing them with the serger, and that is not a good thing for the edge where the sole is attached. That seam needs to be stitched and flattened, or it becomes something I can feel when wearing the socks.

You might wonder why I am trying this odd make-socks-from-cloth thing... Not from sheer extreme perversity but simply because I want socks that are not aggravating, and hopefully that will not wear out in less than three months. The only manufactured socks that meet that criteria (for me) are the spendy SmartWool socks. So this is in the nature of an experiment; perhaps I will discover that even at the price they are, it is more cost effective to buy than to make my own. I know that it is MUCH more expensive to knit my own socks, and they wear out very very quickly.