Wednesday, June 30, 2010

kibbles n bits

Tonight was the debut of our actual Neighborly Roundtable - the table set out on the corner for folks to come and share the bounty, whatever it is, of our local yards... and it was quite the success!

The corner neighbors (M & Co) went around the local blocks tucking sweet little notices into doorways so that there was some pre-Wednesday evening publicity. A few more neighbors came by, lots of chatting, lots of sharing: lettuces and greens, raspberries, homegrown flower bouquets, tart green apples, celery starts, a few recipes... As the Acorn Cottage garden scene is rather nil right now, but the fresh herbs are doing well, I made up mixed herb bundles to share. There is a planned pickling workshop later this summer, and some of us will be doing a fruit jam canning shindig sometime soon.
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V had asked me to come along to the Dragonsmist SCA demo at the Hillsboro Farmers Market last night. Brought cloisonne wire-bending as a demo craft, and while not the most eye-catching of activities, not only were there a few interesting conversations, but the three hours in social company ended up being quite productive; the wires for one of the pelican medallions are completely prepared! Yay!

Hadn't ever been to that market before, quite far from home (for me) it is an big weekday evening event, and with a different demographic and a different mix of vendors. Who knew that there was an active olive mill and orchard, with over 11,000 trees planted in the last six years, located about 25 miles from Portland?!? Artisan prices of course, but still a good local resource.

Ended up talking a bit with R about sauerkraut, and now am eager to try making some. Apparently homemade is very different from the canned stuff, and it is a quick ferment/culture that sounds rather accessible. Cabbage, a little salt, and some live culture whey of some kind (that clear liquid that seeps from yogurt should work...
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Thanks to the creative minds of my friends, I've several new ideas for salvaging the "bluu-muu-muu" japanese wanapi dress. Not sure yet what direction to go, but no longer feeling stuck... even thought of a rather steampunkish variation, not really suitable to the current fabric, but an interesting idea to keep in the style database inside my head.

Monday, June 28, 2010

japanese waffling, stuck in the middle

Very frustrating to put in a lot of effort and end up with something I am so ambivalent about. The initial draft being so tiny, seems obvious that the draft really is for a very petite, slender person. My chosen added width is perfect, for both a loose summer dress and a jumper over the dresses it will coordinate with. (not this stripey one!) The triangular gores give a really nice drape to the hem edge. The fabric feels wonderful to wear.

blurry late night mirror picture
As is obvious, I re-cut the neckline both too wide and too low-cut, can't currently wear it without an underdress. The stripey dress neckline, under the japanese dress, is my preferred width and depth. I am still thinking about how best to salvage this; I love the fabric, and if I can fix the neckline, it will get a lot of wear, all summer and into the cooler weather as a layering piece. Lengthened the armholes to 10" (26 cm) deep from the as drafted 17 cm. My arms are not skinny little sticks. The armhole is now a bit loose, better for a jumper than for a dress. Just can't decide if it looks too much like my grandmas muumuu, and if I care. Can't decide if it is better to just call it a jumper and move on, or try to fix it for summertime wear.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

just a little more ground...

How are things at Acorn Cottage?

moving slowly... (just don't seem to be bouncing back well from being sick earlier) Some progress nonetheless, another third of the yard whacked and mowed. and last night I also started pulling the weeds from the north side yard, which must all be done by hand, due to large gravel underneath. Golly I have a lot of junk salvaged potential materials scattered about. I hope I am not turning into a hoarder. A plan to either use, store, or recycle will be part of the summer efforts.

The area intended for the yard-squares garden beds is almost cleared. Once the scrap lumber and metal is all stacked up, it should be possible. My dreams are small, but sometimes feel insurmountably large compared to my resources.

The north side yard actually gets sunshine along the very edge in the summer; perhaps moving the growboxes there might be an idea. Tapemeasure time tomorrow evening. S and I have been continuing our conversation about edible and sensory landscape. Really, a good plan for the outside will be so very helpful.
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Inside the house is all scattered with frayed bits from my most recent sewing project, the japanese pattern sewalong. Found the most perfect fabric stashed away, several yards of a geometric rayon print, already pre-washed, in white and pale blues on indigo, which, while a bit contrasty on the right side, was beautifully subtle on the reverse. The fabric has a remarkable drape, somehow weighty and weightless at the same time. If I hadn't a serger, starch would be my best friend, as that makes handling slippery ravelly rayon much easier.

Adapting the pattern was not all that different from the kind of rectangular construction familiar from my SCA Norse clothing projects. I added triangular gores between each of the body seams, which changed the shape to a soft A-line, which I like better. The gores on each side of the central panel cause a wonderful rippling in the hemline, and the side gores allow the fabric to glide smoothly over my curves

However, I mismeasured somehow, and in changing the neckline from too small and high, it is now far too open for comfort or decency. Once the side seams are stitched up, the neckline needs dealt with. Probably adding an inner yoke border will do the trick, but how very annoyed I am not to have double checked my measurements. (no pictures yet, it is too scary!)
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Finding the balance between the isolation of work, necessary chores and highly desirable social time is a current ongoing struggle, which is worse in the summer. The freedom of ten or twenty years ago will never come again in this life, to travel almost at will, and enough work that time away was easy rather than carefully rationed. The life I'd chosen then has shaped the constraints that bind me now, some gladly and willingly accepted and some uncomfortably irritating, that must be ignored in the same way that the frames on my spectacles go unseen in everyday sight, constantly there, and repeatedly looked past.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

in memoriam

i have not forgotten you.
i have not stopped loving you, or remembering that i love you.
if i never touch you again,
i will always be touching your absence.
did you think i had forgotten that?

~ Karen Lindsey
(excerpt from "straight poem", Falling Off The Roof, 1975)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tigress Can Jam - Easy-As-Pie Sauce

I had great plans for this month, intending to create some exotic new pantry items, particularly blueberry ketchup. But then I thought...would I even want to eat blueberry ketchup? Maybe... maybe not...

The last of the rhubarb from the farmers market called to me. "you know you want to - it is your favorite - and there will be no more till next year...". There were just a few (a precious few) new ripe currants on the tiny currant bushes in the front yard. (really I will move them to a better sunnier spot, I saw the currant bushes over at C's house today and they have left mine in the dust. She has pints of currants, not spoonfulls!)

All in all, an awful lot of shilly-shallying about what to can, and what can I say but... Strawberry-Rhubarb - I'm a fool for you!

Easy-As-Pie Jam
12 oz rhubarb

12 oz sugar

12 oz strawberries

2 T fresh currants

¼ t cinnamon

zest of one orange*

juice of the same orange

*please do use a homegrown or organic orange
The day before, cut all the rhubarb into small dice, then mix it with the sugar, and let it sit overnight in the fridge, which draws out the juices.

Bring the mixture to a boil in the morning, then let sit in fridge till home from work.

If the strawberries are big, cut them into halves or quarters, mix into the rhubarb, along with the currants, cinnamon and orange parts, and again bring to a boil and then leave in the fridge till the next day.

just after adding the strawberries etc.
Set everything up for canning, bung the jars into the canner to pre-heat and sterilise them, and start boiling the delectable mixture. It took about ten to fifteen minutes for it to get to a very soft set, and then it is fill up the jars and process for 15 minutes...

yield - six 4 oz jars

By repeatedly boiling the fruit briefly, it seems to take less time overall, and can-jamming during a workday schedule is much easier. The final canning part took less than an hour.

Using some currants to add pectin is making me very happy; it is one more thing that can be homegrown. The texture is somewhat quite a bit softer*, but since these various canned fruits most often get added to plain yogurt as a flavor treat, or sometimes baked with a shortbread crust to make jam cakes, there is no need for super-firm consistency.

Here are the jars, tucked under a teatowel
on the countertop, cooling down gradually

* the next day, I did a taste test, and with this quantity of currants, it is more of a thick sauce than a jam. Not a problem for me, of course, but if jam you want, more currants would be a good idea...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

wishful Wednesday (a day late), or are you happy now..

I had been enjoying our very extended cool and grey weather, as that is the weather that I feel the most comfortable and happy with. All the sunshine lovers are welcome to our now suddenly proper summertime weather! If ever remodeling happens to the walls of Acorn Cottage, I want tiny windows up high in the walls, in several rooms, too small for humans but just big enough for a little fan, so that moving the cool night air into the house is possible.
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A nifty package arrived here this week... My mom sent me the remainders of the silverware my Nana had in her home all while I was growing up. I had found a spoon in that pattern years ago in a thrift store, and immediately recognised it. The patient faithfulness of inanimate objects is one of my constant fascinations;
with these few forks and spoons, I use the same ones that her hands held as a young bride in the twenties. And though the box was nowhere near full, the box itself was so lovely, mauve painted wood with at stenciled laurel wreath on the top in gold and white, very much an artifact of its time, now to find a new life here in my own time and home...
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The glass tiles that I ordered from Modwalls came today, only four days after I placed the order. The colors are great, (walnut and aubergine), but the tiles are a lot thinner than the other glass tiles I already had (shades of pale blue). Ummm, I guess that means I will need to figure out the "indirect" method of mosaic, which is a way to set tiles that are different thickness so they end up a smooth level surface. Should be possible, the needed sections are fairly small. Lots of library research in my future the next few weeks...
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Monday, June 21, 2010

slow bounce back + media Monday

Mount Dishmore is all washed and mostly put away. A not-rainy day means that Mount Lotsalaundry is mostly now on the clothesline. Still drinking plenty of Emergen-C, but wondering how much of this feeling-like-crap is related to the vast quantity of weedy grasses in bloom in the backyard. With that idea, about two hours of weed whacker and lawn mower and a third of the backyard is now mown down flat. Of course, after that I was down flat too! Two more days, and the heaps and lumps and random crap useful (garden soil) and not theoretically useful things scattered under the overgrowth will be visible and can be dealt with. There might need to be a run to the Rebuilding Center and to the transfer station at some point.

Southside neighbor, whose baby daughter has the delightful name of Samara, (Samara loves to watch the hens, and showed up at the back fence whilst I was mowing) offered me a roll of sturdy wire fencing that was left in their attic. That will be VERY HELPFUL with the backyard "remodel" and will allow for making more hen-wrangling panels. The intent is for eventual rotational grazing of hens in the parts of the yard that are not food plants or where the clothesline will be.
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Not quite ten weeks till Self-Stitched-September. It's wonderful having an assortment of summer dresses in the closet. The plan is to continue sewing steadily all summer, next up is the last one of my basic dress, in blue chambray. After that I'll be trying out the naniIRO pattern in rayon, and then it is on to jumpers. Betwixt and between, if I find or scavenge suitable fabric, a few more knit tops might be added to the mix. They are incredibly fast to sew, (but nice knit fabric is hard to find and spendy) I did finish this slightly goofy casual top yesterday, the color looks much more accurate in daylight.

When I was at Ikea today with A (yay! new clothespins, and a pot lid rack, and a $2 cotton jersey crib sheet from as-is that will make sleeves for the "Team Fine" t-shirt conversion), the cashier when we were leaving was so very complimentary about my design that she actually called over another cashier to come see what I'd done with a Sharpie. Really, is it so very odd to draw on fabric?
the two fabrics join at mid-sleeve
munkimunki + sharpie doodles

new long sleeve knit top
grey chambray jumper
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the incredible beauty of number and pattern...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sewalong? + fish and fruit and fabric oh my...

How about a Japanese pattern sew-along in July?? I so enjoyed the one this month, and Ceceli suggested that I be the next sponsor... I'm thinking about the week of July 5 through 11, which would give two weeks to get ready and find fabric. The pattern I want to do is this one naniIRO 2010 recipe № 8: "buttonwanapi" (PDF, opens slowly); which looks like it takes about 3½ yards of 45" fabric, maybe a little less, and six small buttons 1.1 cm (or ⅜ "). The dress is about 42 inches center back length, and is quite loose fitting, since the front and the back are each about the full width of the fabric.

Should be a nice cool summer dress; I'm going to use rayon fabric, since something this full will look better in a softly draping fabric. Once the pattern pieces are drafted and cut out, it looks like there are eight to ten major steps in the construction, so that will work well with a one week sew-along (could do two weeks if that would be easier and less stressful). Now mind you, I don't read Japanese, but figure that the pictures are pretty clear, and we can help each other if the going gets tough... Let me know if you're interested, and I'll be posting each day of that week with how it is progressing...
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This is nifty old munkimunki knit fabric, stashed for years, and there was not enough for my favorite long sleeve top, so I added some plain jersey to the ends of the sleeves. Better, but it needed something, so...trusty Sharpie to the rescue! Random polkadots/bubbles didn't look quite right, so with dotted lines it became "the configuration of known space" instead -

The sewing will be finished up tonight, but garment pictures will have to wait till daylight...
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Today, (as yardwork was right out) a trip to the King Farmers Market, one of the small local markets only one bus transfer away from Acorn Cottage. This just might become my new farmers market of choice... not only are they one of the two markets in the city that have a SNAP token matchprogram, but there was a good variety of actual ingredient vendors. A number of booths selling local organic produce, two local pastured meat vendors, Oregon seafood on ice, local herb and veggie starts and suchlike. There were a few "food booths" but mostly things to buy and take home to cook with. Yay! I bought some fresh bok choy, and a pint of peas, and a nice bundle of rhubarb (probably the last of the year, and will be quickly cooked up with some more of the freezer strawberries from last year and canned). Three real treats: a half pint of raspberries, which disappeared immediately on returning home; a fillet of black cod, which sauteed in a bit of butter, turned into the most delectable lunch, and a small bag of morels, which will be sauteed in more of the butter, and frozen.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

unexpected sushi + general update

it's what's for dinner tonight. Ended up having a delightful visit with I & K tonight, and though there is no Crafternoon Tea this month, we still had a happy trip to Sushi Ichiban. Mmm - salmon and unagi and calamari oh my... I'm planning on a July Crafternoon, thinking about July 25th as that date doesn't appear to have any major conflicts.
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More sewing than anything else, but as the coughing continues to abate, studio work beckons. Sewing seems to be, always, the activity of choice for stressful times, for me. Challenging enough to absorb most of my attention, and successful enough that I get to feel competency. Alas, yardwork doesn't beckon, it demands. Hens are doing okay, their laying has slowed down though, or else ( I suspect) they are hiding a nest somewhere in the long grass (see previous sentence)

I found, in my small stash of recycled lumber, two pieces that are almost the right length width for the windowsill repairs. (Last week I went to Mr Plywood, and found that my windowsills are a size of lumber no longer made, the good folks there suggested finding someone with a table saw. ) A bit of work with the hand saw, and I will have three pieces of suitable mosaic substrate. So I went ahead and ordered three squares of glass tile from Modwalls. The shipping was more than the cost of the tiles, but I'd called all over Portland and couldn't find any place that sold small quantities of glass tessarae. ("No, I don't need 30 square feet of tile, only three") While there are repairs to Acorn Cottage that are beyond my skills, this is one that seems doable, and modest in scope.
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My closet is no longer pitifully empty! Seven dresses sewn, and plans/fabric for three more: one more of the basic pattern in blue chambray, then I want to try this other naniIRO pattern: "buttonwanapi" (PDF, opens slowly). I'll certainly be adding some waist to hem gores to the pattern, since I look awful in straight shift dresses. I have a few varied pieces of rayon fabric in greens and browns to try it out in, and if I like how it looks, it is easy to overdye. There are almost no more dress-lengths of lightweight fabric in my stash boxes, though plenty of fabric for jumpers. (lots of smallish bits, but a dress takes at least four yards, and I'm not really into color-blocking) I will definitely be making at least four or five more jumpers, and who knows what else... raincoat perhaps??? Actually I just found the coat pattern I want to use, and am thinking that making it up in either a heavy flannel or a light wool, would be a great winter bathrobe AND a great trial of the pattern.

So far in my quest to have tried-n-true patterns, I have a good knit top (this pattern originally, now heavily modified), a good basic dress, and a good jumper. I have reliable patterns for my underclothes, both top and bottom, and I've also a good brimmed hat, suitable for sun or rain, depending on the materials used. I'm still hoping for a good buttonfront shirt, not being happy with the pattern I currently have. (buttonfront shirt has been a challenge for years) I can happily do rectangular construction for Viking style garments, and will probably do at least one "shapely apron dress" style jumper. With a coat, and a pair of pants, I'd be set.

I'm hoping that the Marcy Tilton pants will be a good pattern for me, that, and a revamped overall pattern, taken from my almost totally threadbare current pair. I saw a pair of these pants ( Vogue 8499) made up in a drape-y linen at Josephines, and I've seen them online here. There are also some fun patterns I want to try later this year: the wrap jumper with edge flounces, which will be a start on getting something similar to this dress which looks wonderful and is not even available anymore... and this curious dress which will be a good jumping off point to get the effect of this French childrens pattern...

One thing that I noticed during Me-Made-May was that I didn't have very many self-sewn knit tops. I'll want to have more than three for September, but they are so very quick to make, even before I had the serger, they only take an hour or two, since knits need no seam finishing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

mending + media Monday

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired (grump grump grump)

Managed to do a dab of mending, added a tab closure to my current tote bag, to help keep things from falling out. I had a bit of the original fabric left, so it looks like it was made that way to begin with. I'd thought about using a magnetic catch, but never feel quite certain that they will not erase data... instead I found these wonderful dime-size snaps in the notions drawer.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

amoeba amoeba

since cloning myself is not an option, though that feels like the only way that enough will be accomplished around here, I must needs be patient and let the body heal. Sleeping a lot, still, and coughing a lot still. With much gratitude to my (sekrit) benefactor, the nutritious goodies and healing tea is helping, and having fruit juice cold in the fridge is such a treat, I've been mixing it with the Emergen-C. At least I no longer feel entirely like a large animal stepped on my head.
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Since the middle of May, I've been slowly but steadily stitching away most evenings, so as to have clothing to wear this summer. I just completed dress #6...
This is my finished project for the japanese sewalong that was sponsored by Cecili. I added the distinctive neck band and sleeve width from the sewalong pattern to my TNT dress pattern, (simpler than re-grading the japanese pattern to my size). I am pretty happy with it, and drafting the neck variation was not that difficult. The fabric is a cotton twill jacquard, and very soft.
The neck band took as much time as the entire rest of the garment. Red text is my interpretation of the pictures. I did a lot of basting. I was not sure how to make the bottom edge tidy and enclose all the raw edges, as there are quite a few layers all coming together. I just kind of folded things up and hand stitched it as best I could.

The neck band fits into the neckline very smoothly, and is quite comfortable to wear. Quite a change from my usual simple bias bound edge. Best estimate is that it took at least three hours of pretty fiddly work to do however... while binding a neckline takes maybe half an hour tops, and that includes cutting out bias strips.

My one concern is that the bottom edge has at least six layers of fabric, all stitched to one layer of the bodice. If ever making this style neck band again, might be a good idea to use fabric that is thinner for the neckband, or to reinforce the bodice center front.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday thoughts - on sewing for myself

I am so very tired of being sick, even though this is just a bad cold. Because the coughing is intense, intermittent, and erratic, working in the studio is right out. SO, in the time I am not asleep, sewing is the work of choice. Fortunately sewing and cooking are things so well learned over decades that they are close to automatic, done more slowly than usual, but possible. In the studio, working with fire and heat and metal and powdered glass, focus must be impeccable and hands must be steady. If tomorrow I feel better enough, I'll clean off the workbench and do some simple cloisonne wire bending prepwork...

Attention to clothing-construction/wardrobe-planning is one area that is "small" enough that success feels possible probable, my skills are enough for the task and the resources are readily available, indeed stacked up in the sewing room needing to be used. Since given how time has a way of galloping forward and it will be SelfStitchedSeptember all too quickly, the plan is to sew clothing steadily all summer.

Back in the days when OCF was the hub that my year spun around, I would make four new festival dresses each year. The ones from the previous year would become everyday dresses, and the year after that be demoted to work dresses, so that there was a modest quantity but ongoing source of clothing in my wardrobe. I'd like to get back to a version of that, to have clothes that bring a bit of joy to me when I wear them, and enough that I can go at least a week between laundry, (which will help with the water bill too).

It will make me so happy to actually make this happen, which I have been thinking of for several years, to have enough dresses and jumpers that I can mix and match, and then my sewing will turn to the few other needed garments: raincoat, bathrobe, and either a pair of pants or overalls. (and once those are complete, sewing for myself will become a pastiche of mending, repair and gradual replacement). I have no desire to have a vast closet full of clothing, but rather a much smaller amount that fits and is all handmade, sort of the wardrobe equivalent of slow food or the not so big house...

Given what the possible temperature range might be for September; it is usually more like an extension of summertime than autumnal. So I am continuing to focus on making a whole group of lightweight dresses, hopefully to end up with at least eight, which can be worn as-is all summer long, and in September if the weather is warm/hot. After that I want to make more jumpers, hopefully to end up with at least six or seven, to be layered over the dresses as/if the weather cools off.

~ summer dresses ~
navy ikat
black/grey polkadot
grey leafy
cornflower ikat
blue/dk blue (linen) gingham
*cornflower jacquard floral
*black chambray
blue stripey
blue chambray
(italic ones are already complete, starred ones are cut out but not sewn) The cornflower blue jacquard floral one is what I am doing as my japanese sew along project, it will have the neckline and sleeves from that tunic top, but the body of one of my summer dresses. Variety is good, but so is having a pattern that fits, this way I can have both.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

wishful Wednesday

Can I have my head back please? This thing where my head once was is very painful and leaking sticky goo, and my brains seem to have melted. And apparently I completely misread my calendar for June and since being sick have simply skipped on going to work, which would be better done with a warning phonecall saying I was home sick. Hopefully the corner is somewhere just around the corner, since I'd really like to turn it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

sickbed thickhead thoughts and ideas

I've definitely got a cold, or something - feel significantly worse than I did yesterday, but yesterday was still rather a productive day - I was able to get the whole front yard mowed (the back needs weed-whacked, which is a lot more strenuous, and will have to continue waiting till I feel better) some sewing and housecleaning, and repaired the chew-damaged dining table. I'm hoping that by tomorrow I will start feeling better. Today will be resting, and sewing, and wire bending for enamels, as well as some napping and chicken soup eating

This is a rather kludge-y sketch of the back yard on graph paper, partially how it is and partially how it could be...the purple square is where the chicken yard is now, which hopefully will become two garden beds by next year. The rows of squares are where hopefully garden beds will happen soon-ish (currently that area is waist high weeds over lumps of former too wide garden beds)
The wee espalier apple still looks pretty sick, in fact, and I'm not sure it will survive. The plum tree in the side yard also looks really bad, I think that all the rain and cold has not been good for them. On the other hand, the pear tree still looks okay, the Akane apple has baby apples, and the currant bushes by the front walkway are regrowing some leaves, and have a few currants actually ripening.

So far the only idea that has come to mind about re-locating the clothesline, is creating some kind of contraption with poles and ropes and tent stakes. Not sure if that will work, but would only require experimenting... I'd like to end up with at least 60 to 100 ft of line, somehow. If the long-tent/geteld can be secure with triangulating guy ropes, why not a clothesline? or is it that the wooden structure and angled canvas help with the wind movement, and flapping drying clothes would be more of a stress? Ah well, such ideas are a good way to keep the mind busy while resting the body.
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Thoughts on preparing for "S3" (self-stitched-September)...

I already make a lot of my own clothing, because I am shaped like a little teapot (short and stout); I have no desire to wear the kind of clothes that are commercially available, which are poorly constructed, mostly made under conditions that I find horrific, and which would all require me to alter them anyway in order for me to wear them...

I really really enjoyed participating in MeMadeMay. Joining in this "movement" encouraged me to sew new clothes for myself, and also gave me a chance to talk about the idea with my friends. I figure that making and wearing self-made clothing is another way to step a bit away from the corporate commercial world, like eating homegrown food, or playing music together, or any of the other ways we take our lives back into our own hands, literally. And as well as that profound conceptual reason, I like to make my own clothes, because what I want to wear, and like to wear, I couldn't purchase anywhere anyway. I don't like wearing jeans and t-shirts and sweatpants and hoodies, I find them uncomfortable and dislike how I look when wearing them; I like dresses and jumpers and aprons, and the way for me to wear what I like is to make it myself.

My intent is to continue making clothing this summer, so that in September I will have my own set of mix-and-match options that can be layered if the weather turns cool. (I'm also hoping to make a bathrobe/nightgown set and possibly a raincoat.) From taking a month of photos of what I was wearing, I discovered that I like the way adding accessories like a vest, a jacket, a scarf, or even some jewelry adds a layer of complexity and "finish" to how I look, so will be possibly probably be making more of that kind of "third layer". Right now I am immersed in making dresses, hopefully to end up with at least eight, and after that more jumpers, hopefully to end up with at least six or seven.
cotton dresses:
navy ikat
black/grey polkadot
grey leafy
cornflower ikat
jacquard flowers
blue stripey
black chambray
blue chambray

grey chambray
navy corduroy
black jersey
grey corduroy
grey widewale
black print corduroy
blue denim
brown denim

Monday, June 7, 2010

media monday + progress (of a sort)

I seem to have come down with some kind of crud - raspy throat and general malaise, achy head. Fortunately there is chicken soup in a box from the last Costco run, so I can self-medicate, but still, blech...
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If the yard dries out at all, even if feeling like crap, I MUST mow down the underbrush. Yep, I can't call the backyard lawn, it is too tall! Last year I moved the rotting wood frames from the former garden beds, and then just left it, so there is all a tangle and random lumps of soil under the weedy growth. When S came to visit, we measured the backyard, so I now have information to create some kind of Useful Plan for what I am wanting to do.

The former garden beds were too wide, I am small, with short arms and legs. I've been reading One Magic Square, which is based on the idea of modules that are 3 foot on a side. This feels more doable to me, and would allow for gradual reclamation of the yard, as well as simplify the rotation of veggies between blocks. Not perzaktly the same thing as the popular square foot gardening.

I don't know why I got "stuck" in the idea that garden beds need to be four foot across, but whatever future configuration ends up in the yard, the beds will be only three feet across, and I will make the between pathways wide enough that I can kneel down to access the garden spaces, and also to keep the weeds from making a comeback in the pathways. Huge project eh? It looks like there will be enough room in the current garden space to have eight yard square beds, which also allows for eventual expansion into four long beds, if when in the future I get better at gardening. Really my difficulty is that I started too big for what my skills and watering capacity were, and it all got away from me, combined with my simply plunking things down in the yard without a thought for how they would all work together as a system. Currently there are compost bins set at random, a sick apple tree in an awkward place, and the only productive spots are my mini garlic plantation and the hens.
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The other idea I recently had was (that it might be possible) to build a clothesline that was somehow attached to the StupidDeck™, thereby converting it into a theoretically useful object. I want and use a clothesline, at least if we ever have days of not-rain, and my current arrangement is a rather kludge-y line tied between the shed and the fence which awkwardly hangs the clothes in and across the path to the yard and the henhouse. Hanging the clothes over the deck would make walking into the yard a lot nicer...
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Fairly productive day yesterday, though I gradually felt worse and worse...

I finished marking out the new neighborhood group banner, decided to use sharpie markers instead of fabric paint, now all that is needed is to sew hems on the raw edges and ties to hang it up with, found a dowel in the wood-stash to help keep it hanging evenly.

The week long japanese pattern sew-along has begun, and a very pleasant two hours resulted in the creation of pattern pieces for the project.
It took several tries to correctly add the neckline band detail to my current bodice pattern, but having a bit of variety in clothing will be enjoyable. I am, of course, going to use this as a dress rather than a tunic top; I make tunics but don't end up wearing them, but I wear dresses all the time... Searched through the fabric-stash, and found a length of jacquard woven cotton, light cornflower blue, all patterned in roses. It was originally a duvet cover, I think, but it is enough for a dress experiment; there are a few leftover bits of the darker cornflower ikat that might become dress trimmings (edge bindings and suchlike)

repairing the damage from Termite the Wonder Dog... Last night I realised that she had also chewed the corner of the dining room table, and my knitting tote frame, as well as the front door lever !?! Mending wax will fill some of the smallest damaged bits. Found the tube of wood putty and started repairing the smaller holes in my front window; they are all filled in and sanded down now, ready to be primed. Not sure what color to paint the window trim. The paint for the living room is a light blue grey, and I don't think I want to continue with white trim... (insert more cogitation here))
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and speaking of color schemes...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

gratuitous generosity, accepted with gratitude

Yesterday was such a mixture, and mostly a treat...

It has been days and days of not-slipping-into-despair. My personal challenges I can cope with. But I can barely tolerate checking in with what is happening in the world, seeing the images from the BP oil disaster has me in hopeless tears at the stupidity of profit uber all. I do what I can, trusting in that if we each do what we can it will make a difference, but sometimes I feel like I am deluding myself. I ride the bus, or my bike, and live outside the corporate reality as much as I can, and hope thereby to stave off the collapsing wave I can only sense in the future. When I was a little child, I feared the bomb, and honed my mental mapping by plotting the fastest way to get to a fallout shelter from wherever I was. When I was a girl, my best friend and I dreamed of getting off the planet, and planned who to pick from our classmates for the best genetic diversity. When I was a young adult, we feared, and planned for how to escape when the shit hit the fan, plotting pathways out of the city to the fabled countryside. This beautiful and troubled and damaged planet is where I live, and will live, and will die, and I live everyday balanced on the ridge of knowing how much we are blowing it, and still continuing to live, and making whatever choices I can with the resources I have, that cause the least harm.
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So a day all sparkled with the brightness of connection is a treasure.
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All Friday afternoon was a crafternoon with friends; while M and V did various textile things with wool, I enlarged the logo of our "Neighborly Roundtable" group onto muslin to make a yard square banner. (Did I mention how very much I like my neighborhood?) The plan is to have a once a week swap of extra veggies, and we've been having once a month potluck meetings, this month M talked about building solitary bee habitats, and we got to see the bee houses that she and her husband had made and put up around their house. 'Twas very inspiring, and I will be making some from the offcut bits from last years porch build.
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Later, once home again, the doorbell rang and it was B, most unexpectedly, on his way home to Oly. Ever so much nicer to spend rush hour sitting visiting a friend than sitting in a truck on I-5! He very sweetly cooked dinner for me, stir fried zucchini n onions, and a salad of homegrown greens and homemade aged feta. The cheese that M is making just keeps getting tastier, and B kindly left me with a good sized chunk of the feta - I'm thinking that tomorrow's dinner will be something Greek-salad-ish, and may splurge on a few nice Kalamata olives for garnish...
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Then, most unexpectedly and delightfully, A called, and invited me to Jade Sauna. I'd only ever been there once before, (and just for the steam sauna), but this time I had my first ever experience of the renowned "scrubbing" which was definitely a new and different tactile experience... felt a lot like being washed all over by a very rough bristly cat tongue. My skin has not felt this soft and smooth in decades, I'm adding this experience to my life list of oddly pleasurable sensations that could definitely be repeated.
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Tomorrow is the start of the japanese pattern sew-along: two days to draw out the pattern, two to acquire suitable fabric, two days to cut out the pieces, and next weekend to sew it all together. Given the disparity between my size and the pattern size, I am thinking of morphing the pattern with one of my tested bodice patterns... using the neckline details and the sleeve shaping, but not trying to totally re-configure the body of the shirt. (I'm also wondering if lengthening it to dress length would be feasible, some of the other patterns on the Kokka website are for dresses, and I make tunic tops, but I don't really wear them)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

wishful Wednesday: record and playback+ sewing chatter

I know I tried before to wish for a small tape recorder to record myself speaking, for a self help project that I want to try, and it seems that cassette recorders are obsolete technology. (I know my current ancient boom box is held together with duct tape and cardboard, and never had a microphone option...)

Sooo... my Wishful Question is does anyone have a Clever Idea of how I could do this... What I want to do, is record myself reading some "instructions" (kind of like a guided meditation) and be able to play them back to myself, allowing for pauses to think about the various parts.

I'm open for suggestions...
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Planning ahead, there will be another month-long challenge for wearing self-sewn clothing later this year. Zoe has suggested that this autumn (September) is the time for...

More dresses will be needed, so summertime sewing will proceed on an ongoing basis; I have plans, and fabric, for five more, which will make getting dressed so much easier. The process of planning and activity of sewing is the part I enjoy, I don't like having to think about what to wear every day, which is explains the "uniform-ness" of my attire. I'm considering making a pair of overalls for garden and other grubby activities; overalls are a lot of work to make, almost as much as a coat, but the ones I've had in the past were worn often, so much so that they wore out...
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I've decided to join the Japanese pattern sew-along here... though I'll certainly need to alter the bodice, since I am not built anything like a slender Japanese maiden! (here is the PDF of the free pattern) It should be educational to use just the diagram to create a garment, and I am always interested in adding different neckline treatments to my repertoire, that being a good and useful way to add variety to my staple patterns.

two by two, hands of blue...

The poison hemlock is gone, huzzah huzzah!... Kids, don 't try this at home... I called up the county weed control office, and their comments echoed what the plant nursery had said. Basically wear gloves and wash afterwards, don't let the juice get in your eyes, mouth, or any cuts. Okey dokey I can handle that, long sleeve shirt, blue latex gloves, with the cloth garden gloves that don't fit very well over them... I didn't take pictures, but was very careful and rather scared.

The idea that S had about using heavy garbage bags worked relatively well. I had to remove one of the wooden stakes from beside the pear tree, as the monster plant was growing right next to it. The one good thing about all this rain is that it was possible to remove the stake, and the wet ground was soft, which made digging out the taproot fairly easy.

I used three large extra thick garbage sacks. Climbed atop my stepladder and dropped one over the top of the plant, then progressively folded/broke down the stalks, handling them from the outside of the heavy plastic bag. After the first one I could get down from the stepladder, and the only time I had to actually "touch" the plant was to guide more of the leafage/stalks into the bag. Once it became awkward, I dropped a second bag over the top and that was enough to get down to the ground level. The plant was about 1½" dia at the base, maybe a bit more, but with all the rain we have been having, the plant was not at all "sturdy", and bent/broke easily. I carefully dug around and loosened the dirt enough to be able to remove the taproot, there is now a hole about a foot deep next to the pear tree.

Broken down inside the plastic garbage sacks, the plant did not take up all that much room, and went into a paper garbage bag, then into the trash. I then peeled off the garden gloves and threw them away too, then the latex gloves. Basically everything, including the Croc garden shoes that were almost worn out, that could have touched the plant got tossed, and after a thorough scrubdown I felt rather like a difficult job had been handled. I have left the aluminum stepladder and small shovel out in the yard to be washed by the rain, the plant didn't really touch them, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

Note to future self: be more active about identifying mystery plants that show up in the yard here at Acorn Cottage, not all will be as delightful as the feral backyard roses...