Wednesday, September 29, 2010

wishful Wednesday + S3-day 29

Grumble grumble, bitch bitch, complain complain. Simple impossible wish - please let my back be healed. The pain is increasing rather than easing off, . The aspirin is, of course, making my insides most crampifyingly unhappy, but when I tried cutting back, the pain was far more than I could handle. Pain makes me stupid, and makes my world very small.

Next to last day for Self StitchedSeptember, and finally, something new to wear... Why should children have all the fun? The embroidery on the bodice of this pinafore makes me happy. The "Little Folks" printed cotton voile of my blouse is a perfect complement. I chose the colors for the embroidery to coordinate with my whole wardrobe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

random Tuesday tidbits, +S3 - days 27, 28

Yesterday it was hot, and I wore my blue japanese dress. Today it was not quite so hot, but quite muggy, and I wore my pastel japanese dress. Too boring to take pictures, they both have been worn several times this month. What this tells me is that more, in that style, is a good idea for next summer...

Almost done with the new pinwale corduroy jumper/pinafore. Still needs to have the bodice binding finished, and pockets made and stitched, but then it is on to the next thing. There is a denim pinafore already cut out, as well as a grey wide-wale corduroy jumper. One more, in black (linen? denim? knit?) and that will probably be a goodly batch to get through the winter.

I'm torn between wanting to make a few knit tops and wanting to make a few button-front blouses, using patterns that I've made in the past, but that will need re-fitted to my current size. The Teagarden T is a lovely and comfortable pattern to wear, with interesting origami-like construction. While diamond gussets hold no terrors for me, I'm still thinking about how best to do a FBA alteration on this design... The other pattern that is calling to me is the Athena Blouse. With a shawl wing collar that can easily be modified to alternative shapes, and deep square armholes, it is just different enough to make me happy, and making up a few of these would honor the memory of the pattern designer Fred Bloebaum, who recently and sadly for the sewing world, passed away earlier this month.
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Upon finally returning home this evening, after much attention to settling down my frustration, and cherishing what equanimity I could gather, I was able to unwind the fabric from the washer agitator. Amazingly, it is still all in one piece. The other tea towel came out along with it....
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Spent a great deal of today traveling between doctor appts; this morning the contretemps with the washer meant that in order to get there in a timely way, a bicycle ride was necessary! Yay for having a health center close enough for that option. (Riding on the bike is actually less painful than most other activities, like, oh say, walking, or attempting to sleep...weird, eh?)

Good news is that even with zooming over there as quick as I could, my vital signs were deemed quite good. Bad news is that what is probably up with the tailbone is sacroiliitis, with no real obvious reason, and hopefully will eventually go away. If OHP will cover physical therapy, Dr Grant thinks that will be may be helpful, otherwise it is simply an unknown length of time with unremediated pain. Afternoon was another medical appointment - nutritional consult, where it was determined that I am eating appropriate foods for me, weight loss is moving at an appropriate rate, but need to pay more attention to eating in a more regular and timely way, and also to keeping a more regular sleep schedule! And on that note, am off to unwind with a book and attempt to ease my way back into dreamland. Wish me luck...
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NOT okay - rant

I'm off to see the doctor today (for the initial exam now that I have OHP) and hopefully will get something informative happening regarding my tailbone/joint pain, which remains unrelenting.

But that is not what I wanted to write about. As a way of distracting myself, somewhat, from how much it hurts, all the time, I pulled out one of my patterns, and the special fabric that I splurged on, with the thought of making a new blouse this week. Okay, time to pre-wash the length of lovely printed cotton lawn, in preparation for sewing later this week...

Do some other housey chores, check the emails...

okey-dokey, the washer is finished, time to deal with the now clean laundry...

Hmm, not as much in here as I remember...

wait... here is part of a dark green tea towel...

that seems to be stuck under the agitator...

pull it loose, and...


Arghhhh! I've heard of machines eating stray socks, but this is ridiculous... That GORRAM machine has sucked things under the agitator, and presumably into the guts of the machine! Half my fabric (which is/was 2 1/2 yards long/44 inches wide) is somewhere, and my initial attempt to "gently" untagle/untwist/pull-it-free is having no effect...AND, there is an entire lime green tea towel also missing, presumable gone down the hatch into the guts as well!

Don't think that my back is happy with the idea of wrangling with the washer, though I'll have to check and see what the Time-Life fixit book has to say, and it makes me want to cry. Getting a new washer is very appealing and not really realistic, but now I cant trust the washer not to eat things...

Can you say front-loading washer fantasy... I knew you could....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

well begun is half done + S3 - day 26

A full day enameling, the second day of the Cloisonné workshop. My student A had decided to work on two pieces, both somewhat larger than usual, and chose complex designs for them both, one with spiraling Norse raven heads, and one with a quadruple spiral design. Quite ambitious, but she was both skillful, enthused, and determined. Great progress was made, but another session or two will be needed to complete the pieces, since they were both more than twice the size I usually suggest.

This quarter, Open Studio will be on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 for anyone who has taken one of my workshops ($40 or 4/$120, call me to check in before coming over)
one of the enamels that A was working on today
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Since today was cool and rainy, a pinafore/dress combination was just the thing. The black chambray dress with the grey chambray pinafore. The clothing that I've sewed this year is being comfortable and satisfying to wear.

For a change, instead of a necklace, this cloisonné brooch; one of my very early pieces, made back when still doing undergraduate work at TESC, one quarter I did a whole series of pieces about highway images. This is one from a sketchbook I created while traveling across country on Green Tortoise decades ago. The adventures along the way are still very vivid in my memory, and while the bus was actually on the road between various destinations, I spent the whole, most of my time sitting up right behind the driver, sketching the views through the front window. When you cross the border into Nebraska headed west, the flat prairie turns to rolling hills...
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My back is still very wrong, and aspirin, while helping a little bit, is not a recommended forever modality. I was able to find some Salonpas, and have been applying then on a regular basis, not sure that the contortions to actually get the sticky little thing to the right spot are helpful, and I can't really tell if it is having a noticeable effect. Pain makes me stupid. Fortunately I am seeing my new doctor tomorrow morning, shall see what she can make of this...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

let's do it again tomorrow + S3 - day 25

Did I mention how very much I like teaching? Only one student for this workshop, but she is really doing well, and has chosen a challenging "three raven heads" design for her first cloisonné piece. I am quite astonishingly tired this evening; standing on concrete all day is hard on my already unhappy back, but that is balanced by how energised I am to be working with such an enthusiastic and skillful beginner. Still, a relatively early bedtime will be a good idea, after all, there is another full day of workshop tomorrow.

Almost wore the pastel japanese dress today, for yet a third time this month, since the forecast was for 80F. But it was slightly chilly this morning, and a bike ride to the store was necessary. (No BonAmi at home, and then none at New Seasons or at Fred Meyers; I use it to pre-clean the metal before enameling, ended up using a mixture of calcium carbonate and baking soda) The cornflower blue ikat dress had not yet been worn this month, so that was my choice, figuring to change if need be. Didn't need to. Wore the eye bead necklace, and the oakleaf earrings.

Hopefully a bit more sewing will happen tonight, whilst waiting for my clients to arrive and pick up the last three of the four-cushion-cover project. Time to make up some more sewing business cards and send them out into the world, as there are no more sewing commissions hanging about here waiting to be completed. The good folks at Modern Domestic called to let me know that one of the sewing machine feet I wanted ordered has arrived: it is, hopefully, a clever "hemmer" foot, that will turn the fabric edge over twice just in time to stitch it down neatly. Since up till now I've been doing that literally by hand, a bit at a time while edge-stitching, the necessary learning curve, however challenging, will be the route to a simpler task in the end...

Almost all of the missing bits and bobs have been returned, found in obvious places that has already been looked through... methinks that the whiskey and cream were a good idea. Still looking for my favorite wooden comb, but that has been missing the longest. Most grateful for the return of my sewing machine manual, that would be harder to replace than my pendant, which also is back where it belongs.

Yesterday had a serious WTF in the middle of it - a form letter from DHS Salem saying that my enrollment in OHP would be cancelled in four days due to "my refusal to provide proof of citizenship" when asked! Seriously, all that information had been provided twice already, the first time I applied to the medical lottery, and again when I applied for the Trail Card, and no additional request ever came my way... But fearing the worst, I took several hours out of the day to bus over to the nearest office with my passport and social security card, not wanting some bureaucratic glitch to jeopardize the medical care that took four years to luck into.

The CanJam food of choice for next month is: capsicums. Wondering what will be a good choice, and be an ingredient that will actually be used in my own cooking. Wasn't one of my friends asking about hot pepper jelly awhile back? Maybe a zingy plum sauce would be a tasty treat, kind of like spicy hoisin sauce, with mu shu stir-fry... or maybe something like this, which sounds amazingly appetizing...

Friday, September 24, 2010

ten things about me, +S3 - day 24

My necklace was a gift from A, with earrings to match, but instead, I'm wearing it with these earrings made from big lavender vintage lucite beads, and iridescent Czech glass leaves, less formal, and a bit goofy. Also wearing my grey chambray pinafore as a sun-dress, with the printed cotton lawn blouse as a kind of lightweight overblouse. The weather is due to turn back to warm again, just in time for my weekend enameling workshop. Today, besides work, is all about tidying up the studio, so not a lot of writing or sewing time...
Doing these me-made months really makes it obvious where the empty spots are in my wardrobe, and what are my staple wearables. My seasonal progression (from warm to cold) of clothing is something like this: rayon popover dresses > cotton basic dresses > knit tops under a pinafore > cotton dresses under a pinafore > multiple layers under a pinafore. Currently, I need more pinafore-jumpers (have the fabric, need to sew them).

The bird embroidery is finished, and all the parts cut out for the grey corduroy pinafore. Hopefully it will be completed by the end of next week.
the lines on the corduroy do not really look this weird...
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The second Double Moebius Cowl, using some more of my stashed yarn. The first one was a test knit, and ended up as a gift to my mother; this one is in my beloved "dirt and indigo" colors. Now only a very few balls of Noro remain in the yarn boxes, and my next knitting project will probably be a blue stripey cardigan sweater of some variety, since there is no one color of yarn in large enough quantity for a solid blue. My current idea is to somehow add sleeves to the garter stitch vest idea that I used last year, now that the year is turning to where larger knitting projects are pleasant.

Oh look, there is a new Miyazaki film! Based on The Borrowers, it is only out in Japan so far. I loved those books as a child, have always been fascinated with the world of the small...
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This was definitely a bit of a surprise, sent to me by Sigrid who writes the blog Analog Me. These awards seem kind of like a cross between a meme and a chain letter, but in a "oh I think what you are doing is nifty" way...

The rules are that I'm to tell you ten things about me that you might not know already and pass on the award*...

1. I saw a cougar, at the end of my driveway the year I lived in Idaho, close enough that I thought it was the neighbors yellow Lab. (it ran away like a lion-shaped piece of water running downhill)

2. I got a ride across two New England states, while hitchhiking when I was in college (many decades ago in a lifetime far far away), from a man who turned out to be a Federal marshall. His parting remark when he let me off at my destination was "...see, Federal pigs aren't all bad", which given that this was in the early seventies, left me pretty speechless.

3. Though I pretty much eat sustainable, local and organic food, and pretty much cook all my meals from scratch, I do have a secret fondness for Kraft macaroni and cheese, aka "plasti-mac". (of course, I no longer ever eat it, since I have given up eating food made from grain)

4. While I have had many odd jobs in my long lifetime of working, the oddest was, when in college, for a day, I worked as a "live model" for med students at UW who were learning to do pelvic exams. (think about it - the only way to get feedback on what you are doing is from a real person...)

5. I learned to read before I ever went to school. Consequently, I am a voracious reader, and also, consequently, never got the idea that you go to school to learn nifty things, but rather that you go to school to be bored to tears. Fortunately my family made sure that there were other places that were other interesting learning skills options, for both arts and science.

6. Though I have pretty good fine motor skills coordination, learning anything that needs large motor skills is really difficult for me. I cannot, for example, hula hoop to save my life. I'd like to, it looks like fun, but no can do. My mother still laughs about my attempts to do that as a child, apparently I would hold the hoop around my waist and shake my head in circles...

7. It might be heretical, but I don't really care about chocolate. My preference in sweet things is fruit flavors.

8. I did not learn to tell the difference between right and left until I was a middle-aged woman, when my young friend H pointed out to me that if you extend your thumbs, your left hand makes the letter "L"... I wish someone had told me that as a child, it would have spared me years of waving my hands around in the air, trying to remember which hand I use to write with.

9. Do not take me to horror movies. Ever. Ditto on scary books. My imagination is very vivid, and does not need any data input that will generate nightmares. The outside world does quite enough of that already, without my help. I guess that I have the tastebuds of a child not only in what I like to drink, but in the media I like to consume.

10. fun is desirable... compulsion is anathema... following orders makes me grumpy. So my take on the given instructions are that the folks I send this on to can play along if it seems like fun to them, and pass it along if they want to...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

random Thursday threads +S3, days 22, 23

note to self: in the future, do not make vietnamese cabbage and egg breakfast with red cabbage - it turns the eggs an interesting teal blue color...

Well, I missed wishful Wednesday, but were it yesterday I just wanted to make a note of this completely delicious Liberty of London  printed corduroy... at $40/yd it is much too dear to add to my fabric stash, but oh how lovely!  I would happily wear a pinafore made from such lovely and subtle prints.

Just wanted to mention, if I'm not the only one that wears knee socks, that I've been really  happy with the military boot socks from Sock Dreams. They really do stay up, all day, and are quite comfortable, even for my picky little feet, and they have no problem negotiaing my rather muscular calves** either. (Really if you walk as much as I do, your legs will not be spindly) I am hopeful that they will also be fairly durable, not sure about that "recycled cotton content". After all my unhappiness with the poor customer service from Maggies Organic Socks, it is great to have an alternative.

Yesterday I wore the same old japanese dress... This design is a real delight to wear when the weather is hot outside. As I sort through my fabric stash, whatever dresslengths of rayon I find will be earmarked to make more of these for next summer. This design really will only look well made up in a fabric with a lot of drape to it; in something with even as much substance as cotton broadcloth, it will just look bunchy.
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A confection of painted limoges-style vitreous enamel, set in silver, on a necklace of graduated vintage bone beads, my "tea with maneki-neko" necklace had the right soft colors to work with the patchy rayon, perfect for the warm day.   I made this enamel as a demo piece in a workshop I was teaching on how to use painting enamels. The kanji at the top of the setting says "tea". I will be teaching another painting enamel workshop towards the end of October, it is a technique that is easier for beginners than cloisonné.
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Today is once again back to the damp autumn drizzle, though not a native, the sound of the rain hitting my metal awnings outside the bedroom window is a sure way for me to start the day with a smile.  My rayon split-neck cowl is just the thing for cooler weather. Though I've cut out the pieces for the grey corduroy pinafore, since it isn't finished, I'm wearing my older pale blue cotton one, with my stratus scarf. With this much "stuff" around my neck, a necklace or brooch would just be excess weight, so all the jewelry for today is simply my favorite Scythian style earrings...
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** I am having a fantasy about these boots... They are made by Keen, who make the shoes that actually fit my feet. The listed measurements lead me to believe that they might actually fit me, with my short legs and my calf circumference of someone who does more than sit all day. I wonder if it is possible to go somewhere and try them on. Just to torment myself, since that is rather a bit of a splurge... Maybe as a present to myself on reaching my first weight goal? I mean if they actually fit? not totally impractical after all, they are waterproof and wouldn't it be stylish to have winter boots that were not rubber wellies!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

mightily peculiar

Something is rather odd around here. I am beginning to suspect that the Good Folk are peeved with me.

In the past few weeks, an assortment of things have gone missing. Now mind you, I am rather more than a little absent minded, but this is not quite the same. Tonight, while in the middle of shifting the sewing room back to a guest room, somehow in between there and the living room, my good sewing scissors disappeared. Not quite out of my hand, but almost. All the other scissors ended up in the sharp things drawer... Yesterday I took out the manual for my sewing machine, and when I went to read it, it wasn't there, and also wasn't in the case... I wanted to wear my most favorite enamel necklace, and the beads are hanging on the wall, with the little hooks that hold the necklace hooked together, and the necklace not there... ( I could go on, there are at least several more things that are Not Where I Put Them)

So, I set out some whiskey, and some cream, in little dishes. Anyone have any other suggestions, other than the fact that Acorn Cottage needs a really thorough sorting out.

Still suffering from truly astonishingly painful sciatica, or something like it. Aspirin takes the edge off enough that I can go to work, just.

How are things going with my SelfStitchedSeptember? Well, yesterday I wore my leafy grey Ikea dress, again. It was pretty warm during the day. It was cold this morning, so I bundled up to go feed the hens. Started the day wrapped in my nice warm "fess dancetty" shawl, over my blue corduroy pinafore, and wearing a blue and black rayon refashioned tunic as an underdress. (I fully expect that by afternoon I will need to change back into my japanese dress, as the forecast is for 70F and partly sunny)

The earrings I've been wearing have an interesting backstory. I found them while walking along the side of the road, on the bridge over Hwy 101 near Mud Bay, back when I lived there. They originally had a kind of blue plastic faux lapis as the lower curve under the silver, which was, of course, all broken up by whatever had happened to them on the shoulder of the road. Took them home, washed them, carefully chipped away the rest of the plastic, and thought about what would be a nice alternative. After a while, the image became clear in my mind's eye... Drilled three little holes, and with a bunch of teeny freshwater pearls, and some 30ga beading wire, turned some roadside debris into a favorite pair of earrings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

S3 day 19 - whingey and twingey...

...are not two of the seven dwarfs. Anyhow, maybe it is just as well that no one showed up for Crafternoon Sunday, though company would have been a welcome distraction; since I woke up today feeling excessively twingey in the way that feels like sciatica. The pain is just about bad enough for me to decide that taking aspirin/etc is worth the side effects...grump grump... Maybe it is time to splurge and order the spendy but very useful ibuprofen pain relief cream.

Since the kitchen was empty of visitors, I took advantage of the tidy empty counter to finish up another batch of pickled beets. Three "bunches" of beets makes six half pints of pickle, and as these were golden beets, the kitchen remained free of magenta beet blood. These were cut into smallish cubes, and later in the winter will be a tasty and tangy garnish.

If more sewing for me does not happen soon, severe boredom may set in. This week, hopefully, will see a new pinafore made, since the bird embroidery is finished. If the pieces are cut out from the grey corduroy tonight, bits of sewing can happen in the spaces between other tasks. In a way, I'm uncertain about making a lot of new clothes, since I will be getting smaller. (9lbs so far) My pinafore/jumpers will be fairly easy to take in, most simply by taking out a small chunk of the center back; that will bring the shoulder straps closer together, but with my narrow shoulders, that is not a problem.

Nothing really new here. Today I wore the indigo ikat pinafore over the indigo printed japanese dress, perfect for a day when the weather was so very changeable. The key pendant continues to please me, and today for earrings, these shell and wire confections, a souvenir of a trip to Greece years ago. The dentalium shells are small, and some a very pale pink; they look quite different from the ones that are found around here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tigress Can Jam flakeout + S3 - day 18

I am a flake. Somehow, I thought that the deadline for September was Sunday instead of Friday, and so I missed it. There will still be plum sauce happening here, (as well as more pickled beets,) but my perfect record of attendance in the CanJam roundups will be broken.

At least today is currently what I consider perfect weather right now. Not sunny, and cool enough to be comfortable. Yeah, not only am I a flake but I am a freak. (never been a sun worshiper, even as a child preferred to stay inside and craft rather than play outside in the hot summer sun, but then as a child we lived in Southern California, land of sun and smog) Today's clothing includes my favorite indigo blue ikat pinafore/jumper, and the stripey flannel top that was part of my SWAP effort earlier this year. Easy and comfortable, that top was what inspired me to use that pattern to make a passel of dresses all alike, in different fabrics.
The scissors earrings are made from what were probably intended as zipper pulls. Tiny cast scissors shapes, found attached to cards in the button department of some shop years ago; though there is no way they could easily be used as buttons, attaching an earwire was dirt-simple. Mostly when I wear them folks ask me if I am a hairdresser?!?, but my intention was to reference stitching and sewing. Rather than a necklace, I thought that these badges might be fun. I made the two larger ones (1¼") at one of the local craft fairs, at the DIY table... there were old magazines to cut up for images, and a clever machine to turn them into badges. The smaller one was an giveaway, a button on a badge with a laurel wreath...

Friday, September 17, 2010

s3 - day 17

Today, as the weather may be rather muggy, I wanted to wear layers that I could remove if necessary (today being a charlady day for me). this is a great example of why I do not wear the commonly favored "separates". Personally I like the way I look much more in clothing that looks not chopped in half near my waist, hence my favorite pinafore/jumpers.

The knit top is pieced together from coordinating fabrics, the only part I really like is the stencilled decoration, which says "akita dog" in kanji. As I've lost that stencil, and want to use the image again on one of my pinafores, another will need to be made, this time I'll probably make a three color stencil for the dog, to get some shading. I'm wearing the top over my navy corduroy jumper, to give the effect of a skirt*, but it isn't really working, the top looks too bunchy to me, maybe because my clothing is getting just a tiny bit looser, since I have lost eight pounds.
These earrings are the largest in my collection of acorn earrings, but as they are mostly empty space, they are delightfully lightweight. The acorns are vintage lucite beads, and the oak-leaves are simply shaped and soldered silver wire, very slightly hammered to harden the metal. This is a technique that was one of the very first I learned as a young adult, when first learning metalwork.

*My thought is that if, in the future, I want a skirt analog, making a sleeveless dress, with the top being a very thin batiste fabric might be the way to go. Skirts are not a favorite garment, since as long as I can remember I have HATED the sensation of a waistband; my tactile sensitivity is about equivalent to my supertaster loathing of bitter flavors. I jokingly say that artistic > autistic = just change one letter...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

S3 - day 16

The nip of autumn coming is here in the mornings. Today, rather than just the plain dress (are we bored yet?), a very lightweight shirt/jacket added a bit of warmth, though now that it is nearly lunchtime, not so necessary. Both are made from patterns which have been heavily adapted over many years. (The shape of the shirt/jacket looks well with the dress; maybe next year some sleeveless dresses to coordinate with several of these?)

Thinking of autumn, amber seemed appropriate. This strand was a prize in some SCA contest, it is darker than my more favored "butter amber", and really should be re-strung. Tiny bronzy acorn earrings are part of my very small collection of very small acorn earrings; they were originally site tokens from an Acorn War.

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Not sure if any of my friends will be around this weekend, but Sunday will be an Open House Crafternoon. Come on over in the afternoon for chat, crafting, and snacks...
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bespoke ideology + S3 - day 15

It sometimes seems odd to me, to focus for a month at a time on clothing*... maybe selfish, or excessively first world. But clothing, unless one lives in a tropical paradise, is one of the necessary things. When reading what Sigrid of Analog Me wrote, about the handmade pottery dishes, the feeling resonated as a deep echo.

I want a life that is bespoke, not one that is readymade. Readymade fits no one very well. If there are organising principles in our lives, that is one of mine for certain. For me, to have clothing that is handmade, choosing to follow my own concepts and ideas rather than swallow/follow the direction of the corporate powers that be, is one of the ways that I have opted out of the dominant paradigm. Not to say that my closet is a bastion of radical ideology. This is actually an aspect of my personality that in some ways has been there for as long as I can recall, in one form or another, but that is another post, and there are tasks to do today as well as writing here.

Today is all soft color, wearing the pastel japanese dress with the grey chambray pinafore. I really really want to make more pinafores, a denim one, and the grey corduroy that the bird embroidery is destined for, and maybe one in brown, if there is enough after the jumper for J is completed. There are a few pieces of wool that my mother sent me that might, just might, be enough, if cut with medieval frugality.
The earrings are from a series that B and I did several years ago, "Mud Bay Mushrooms"... There were four different designs: scarlet aminitas, silver shaggy manes, bronze golden morels, and these sweet little liberty cabs. All local to where we lived, and a whimsy to wear as earrings. A bit of enamel gives the caps the right pale color.

The brooch is a design inspired by Norse imagery, Sleipnir and Odin's ravens Huginn and Muninn. Stamped and engraved brass, it was one of my early experiments with wiggle-cut engraving. That style of engraving is much simpler to learn and to do than traditional engraving, and I like it very much. Even with my child sized hands and wonky wrists, it is still possible to get a nice decorative effect. The technique also works very well to create an underlying design for transparent enameling.

*maybe next month I'll focus on shelter, and finally get some of the decluttering done...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

S3 - day 14

Since today dawned lovely and cool and grey, I can wear a work tunic over my dress. The dark grey dress was made from a cotton duvet cover, during the last big sewing rush this spring, and is actually a kind of very finely woven chambray or shot cotton, black crossed with tan.

The work tunic is re-fashioned from a grey cotton chambray vest that belonged to my mother, on one of the sewing days on my last visit east. (It is always a treat to sew at my parents house, the sewing machine is set up in the small bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway, and the windows overlook the woods behind the backyard. And my mother has a Bernina!) Enough of the length was cut off to make gores to add width, and a pair of front pockets, the center front was seamed closed, and new deeply scooped neckline and armholes were recut. The edges were bound with pieces cut from my fathers discarded and very soft grey chamois cloth shirt. (note to self: remember to iron wrinkly clothing before taking pictures)
Thought it would be fun to wear these necklaces today. The larger beads are made from corn kernels, from the decorative corn that is sold in the autumn*. The other necklace is a skinny strand of vintage whitehearts, with one unusual trade bead. I've seen the turquoisy-greenish chevron beads before, but never one with eyes; this one has three blue millifiore eyes embedded in the glass. Can you tell that eye beads are a real favorite of mine? The earrings are tiny doves-of-peace, in cloisonné with painted enamel olive branches
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*Remove the dried kernels from the corncobs, and soak in water for as long as needed till the kernels are soft enough to pierce with a needle and thread (these took about two days to soften). These are strung on doubled heavy upholstery thread; once the kernels dry out again they will shrink, and can be snugged up on the cord and the ends tied together.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

knittin' media Monday + S3 - day 13

Just to get into the right frame of mind...

Today, the test knit that has been on my needles for the last two weeks (transit handwork project) is finished. It had been somewhat challenging, a moebius cowl with a simple Fair Isle edge, bordered with I-cord. Before the final steam-blocking, it really looked like a tangled lump...
but a trip around the end of the ironing board, some gentle application of steam, and a modicum of persuasion, and it turned into this

Methinks it will be a great addition to my early winter wardrobe. Probably with the overlapping moebius twist pinned with a brooch, maybe in a blackened bronze or antiqued silver. (further impetus to spend time at the workbench)
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It is a bit frustrating that there are only two of the rayon japanese dresses in my closet. Surely somewhere in my boxes of fabric is another dress length of rayon. Tomorrow is forecast for 80F, and I'm wishing for a new dress.

Today, the lightest of the regular dresses will have to do, this one is soft thin cotton (which was also originally manufactured as quilting fabric). One time when browsing at SCRAP, there was a whole bolt of this Kaffe Fassett "Rowan Stripe" (woven in India) for $5; needless to say the bolt came home with me. It has been used for several things other than my clothing; as a lining for the roman shades in my kitchen, the woven-in stripes made placing the curtain hardware really simple.

I really prefer to wear this dress as an underdress. with a pinafore, but it will be comfortable today, if a bit short. Later this year, my plan is to stitch decorative bands, using various embellishment techniques, to lengthen all the basic dresses to my preferred hemlength. Somehow, when cutting them out, some, but not all, had a shorter skirt pattern piece used, and are a bit scant. No real matter, just an opportunity to use more of the smaller bits in the stash boxes...

The necklace today was one that I made last year, using a very lovely bead made by Jennifer of Highland Beads, and a simple pair of coordinating earrings.

S3 - day 12

Hard to say whether this dress, or the cornflower blue ikat one, is my favorite of the new batch. The grey on black polkadots are an irregular pattern; the fabric reminds me of old Marimekko, but is actually quilting cotton. Some sewing "experts" say that it is inappropriate to use quilting fabric for clothing, but that is not a rule for me - if a fabric has a pleasant hand, not too crunchy, and color and pattern that work with the other things in my closet, who cares what original purpose was intended.

Since the dress is quite dark, the porcelain key pendant really stands out. It's an artistic trinket that I found at Tilde and wear very simply, on a strand of skinny dark bronze plumbers chain. The notional haberdashery earrings just seemed to be the right things to go with. While they actually match my button crown, it was too sunny a day to forgo a sunhat, so the crown stayed on the shelf at home. There is a great desire on my part to make a new pendant of some sort in all the cream/white/taupe/dark bronze colors, the idea is still coming into focus, but maybe with some sketching it will become clearer. Well that, and possibly a rummage through the various salvaged bits and baubles for inspiration...
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Looks like the tiny pickling cucumbers (that are a real favorite here at Acorn Cottage) are done for the year, there weren't any at the farmers market today. Maybe next year it will be possible to try growing my own. This is a week with a modicum of food-processing scheduled. Three bunches of golden beets are going to turn into gold coin pickles, and some of the frozen plums will become plum sauce, just in time for this month CanJam. There are many more vegetable moments here these days; since forgoing grain-food meals have become slightly random. I can't help but mention how incredibly wonderful the steamed fresh green beans were, not a standard breakfast, but they were actually incredibly sweet, with an almost maple-y flavor
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Next Sunday, the 19th, is September Crafternoon - anyone want to come over and play? I might dig out a bunch of crayons and colored pencils and paints and we can have fun. Of course, it could be textiles and tea and tasty snacks as usual instead... And the weekend after that (24th - 26th) will be a cloisonné workshop. There is one person already signed up, so if you've been waiting for cooler weather to come play with enamel, this is a good time.
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Between the housecleaning jobs, there is quite a bit of creative work for me also coming up. Sketching for some possible new pendants, working on a set of piped cushion covers for a rocking chair, finishing up the test knit Double Moebius Cowl, and making some new pinafore/jumpers for myself. Hi-ho, time to get off the computer and do stuff...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

head for the hills + S3 day 11 which our plucky heroine decides that it is time to tackle Mt. Dishmore. Y'know, to start getting in shape for the taller hills, like Mt. Washmore, and the bane of all those of jackdaw nature, Mt. Cluttermore. Fortunately for me, the first two are really only small foothills...

So today, the cool greyish morning inspired me to wear the grey split-cowl rayon top with the blue corduroy pinafore. If it warms up later, something lighter will be easy to pop on. I'll be home all day, since my buddy R is having a yard sale here at Acorn Cottage today. The necklace for today is one that I made from beads that she made for me, as part of a convoluted skillful handwork swap. Can you tell that eye beads are a favorite of mine? I've re-strung this necklace once already, and will probably do so again soon, not for any reason other than it is fun to come up with different arrangements of something so very delicious. Eye candy indeed!
The earrings for today are ones that get worn almost every other day. They are based on a design from the ancient Scythian nomadic culture This pair was made back when living in Olympia, and sharing a studio* with B. As his earliest training in metalwork was blacksmithing, he is much more attuned to what the hammer can do to shape metal; when I admired this design, he offered to guide me in making a pair of my own. The shape is just so very graceful, and the tiny granule pyramids that decorate the edge make me very happy. The earrings were not a simple project though, and if anyone wants a similar pair**, I suggest that they contact him directly.

* Bill Dawson Metalsmith
** pictures of earrings here (scroll down the page)

Friday, September 10, 2010

S3 - day10

Thinking about adding images each day of my jewelry for that day, since there is not a whole lot of variety in my clothing, until more sewing-for-me time happens... and wearing jewelry more often is a personal goal, seems odd that someone who makes jewelry wears is so rarely.

So - today's clothing: the blue ikat pinafore dress, with the grey knit twist front top. Todays jewelry: a necklace of glass eye beads, strung with cobalt crow beads, a few blue egyptian paste* beads, and an assortment of matte and polished black glass beads.

Most of the eye beads are actually me-made also, though there are three that were made by other artists. Glass beadmaking is the opposite of my enameling; the enamels are all highly structured and planned ahead, while the beads are worked with the glass in a fluid state. The earrings are ones that I assembled from components made by other artisans, the small beads covered with blue eyes came from one of the vendors at the yearly glass and bead show that happens at the same time as the pottery show, and the raku leaves were from an artist in Olympia.

* also known as faience. Here is a better description, and here is a blog of folks working with it. Long years ago, when in middle school, I made beads of this in the ceramics class one year.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

thankful Thursday... + S3 - day 9

This is the first dress that I tried using a japanese pattern diagram for, earlier this year. The only part I ended up using from the original draft was the neckline.

Though not very fond of turquoise as a clothing color, as a December baby, it is my birthstone, and these necklaces are really the only turquoise pieces in my (albeit rather tiny) collection of adornments. The shape of the larger strand of beads is uncommon, like little barrels, and that shape recurs in a number of my enamels. I like it very much, and couldn't resist these beads, they were a special treat from the OCF post-fair "trading circle", about twenty years ago. Both strands of turquoise are strung with vintage glass beads, and the strand of smaller round beads has a few old red Chinese cloisonné beads mixed in, as well as a half dozen vintage greenish-blue small chevron trade beads. The earrings, that are often worn at the same time, are a recombinant mixture: the black horses are ceramic and were originally much heavier, time with the wet grinder thinned them to no more than 3mm thick; while some of the whimsical sculptured detail was lost, they are now light enough for comfort. The turquoise discs at the top are actually tiny enamels, just because. This style of earring is simple to put together, the fun part is combining various elements and artifacts.
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Yesterday my housecleaning client gave me a copy of notes and information from their garden plan - they've had one of the all the year long vegetable garden arrangements (for the last two years), where knowledgeable urban farmers come and plant, tend and harvest the garden, like a kind of in-home CSA. There will surely be additional good information in there, about specifically Portlandish scheduling and suchlike. And also, in response to yesterdays wishful request, thanks to M, an opportunity to try out the Fasturn tubes! Mayhaps a new pinafore/jumper this weekend, after all it is National Sewing Month*, and at least some personal sewing needs to happen!

*The observance of National Sewing Month began in 1982 with a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan declaring September as National Sewing Month “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

wishful Wednesday + S3 - day 8

Most of my clothes are in the wash today, so I guess this is a laundry day outfit... While I love the print of the knit, the color is not my favorite, so it is worn less often, which of course means that it will last longer than the other few knit tops that I like more!

One of the perils of sewing from my stash, is that there are well aged fabrics that are colors that I loved at the time, but my current preferences have changed. In the past, I wore a lot of turquoise, and purple, and cobalt blue, but for the last few years, my wardrobe is moving towards more greyed subtle colors instead, and my old favorites are less appealing.
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I'd love to make a few more knit tops this month, especially after seeing the wonderful assortment of Teagarden T tops that shams has made. I have that pattern, and have made it up more than once, liked and wore them so much that they wore out. Why have I not made any more? The pattern takes 2½ yards of knit fabric, and there is almost no stashed knit fabric here at Acorn Cottage. Also, cotton/lycra knit tops are the one garment that I rarely sew for myself, as the fit is not as critical, and they are often available thrifted, in good condition and wearable styles (for my use anyhow). So one wishful thing today is for a couple of lengths of natural fiber knit fabric, in colors that coordinate with my current clothing, so as to have the chance to add a little more style to my daily clothing.

While tube turning is not something I do all the time in the sewing room, I'd really like a chance to try out the Fasturn Tubes. They have had consistently good reviews online, and using a bodkin, or the stitch a piece of string into the tube before turning method, do not work at all easily. When I made the indigo ikat pinafore/jumper, turning the spaghetti straps took almost as long as sewing the dress. So my other wishful Wednesday is that someone out there that has this tool would let me try it out, before committing to such a spendy sewing room gadget.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

S3 - day 7

I like this combination - the japanese dress worn under the corduroy jumper. This sleeve length looks a better proportion on me than the sleeves of the voile blouse. (remember this when sewing blouses in the future) Less time on the computer means more time for project completion, which will lead to more time for sewing clothing. This weekend's art demo made it clear that a shop apron is a necessity, and should be made an immediate priority. There is a slightly too small pinafore which just might work for that, if the back is removed and waist ties added. And extra pockets, definitely. That might be part of the sewing work tonight...
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My friend R is having a garage sale, only instead of having it at her house, she is having it here, at Acorn Cottage this coming weekend. If other local folks have things they want to sell, just let me know beforehand... or come by on Saturday and shop for some lovely trinkets and treasures.
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Having a knitting project again is a very happy thing. I love the colors of the Noro Chirimen #2, but boy howdy is that yarn really overspun! It keeps looping and knotting up on itself, which is most annoying in an otherwise lovely proto-textile, and requires the periodic dangling the knitting at the end of a length of yarn to let it "untwist". It definitely slows down the knitting progress, but the test moebius will still be completed before the September 16th deadline.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Media Monday + S3 - day 6

Until more pinafore/jumpers get sewn, there are really only a limited number of changes to be rung with my small wardrobe. I wore this very same outfit on day 13 of MeMadeMay; the voile blouse is nice for warm days, and the chambray jumper is also fairly lightweight.
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After all the plumbing issues on Saturday, methought that it would be a good idea to find out if there was a divinity responsible for the oversight of such things... My Google-fu proved feeble, and so a query was sent off to Margaret, who writes the delightful blog FinneganBeginAgain - if anyone would be able to find out the information, she could...and she did! Sending a reply not even 24 hours later, we now know that the goddess Cloacina, who started as an Etruscan goddess of marital bliss, was in charge of the great sewer of Rome, and by extension, all such things. Perhaps a small shrine would be a good addition to the necessary room, and research into suitable offerings needs to be done as well...
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It is finally almost cool enough that knitting seems appealing. I've started in on another test knit, for a stripey moebius scarf/cowl. Never having done that technique before makes me a perfect guinea pig. Noro Chirimen is my yarn of choice, the blend of cotton, silk, and wool has a nice soft hand, with a very rustic texture. The moebius knitting is very weird, hopefully it will work out, though it looks quite odd right now, seeming to change texture right in the center, though of course since it has that half twist, you just keep knitting around and around. Should be interesting, and the results will be a soft warm neck cozy, perfect for cool autumn evenings, a good addition to SelfStitchedSeptember
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A few videos for Labor Day -

Pete Seeger - Solidarity Forever

Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie - Union Maid

U Utah Phillips "Making a Living, Not a Killing"

plumb(ing) tuckered out, (+S3 - day 4 and 5)

or the strange case of the cranky commode...

B arrived late Friday evening. Since he was also doing an artist demo at Art In The Pearl, the plan was for me and my gear to get a lift there and back again on Saturday for my share of the demo-ing, and for him to have a relatively peaceful place to stay while hammering metal downtown all weekend. He mentioned that he had arranged for both of us to get a ride in the morning from K...

the day started well - we got up extra early so as to have everything ready when K arrived, and were having breakfast and tea and putting tools and supplies in boxes when we got...

the phone call - K sounded odd, and no wonder, a leaky pipe had drenched their entire 3 story building, and the ceilings had fallen and there was a vast quantity of water in their basement, she was not going to be able to give us a ride after all. B went out to the car to sort out what needed to be shifted so that the Beetle could take us both downtown, and while consolidating my gear into a smaller bundle, I noticed that there was a rather liquid sound coming from the end of the hallway here...

the overflow - of the cranky commode. There was about an inch of toilet water covering the floor of the bathroom here, continuing to pour over the bowl of the commode. I tossed my bathtowel onto the floor to keep the water from escaping the room to the hallway carpeting, plungered the commode bowl, pulled the lid off the tank to attempt to reseat the flapper, and shut off the water to the toilet. Then I went outside to tell B about the most recent development - Me : "the bathroom is flooded!" B: "I know, I already talked to K." Me : "No, the bathroom is flooded HERE!"... So, while I packed up the rest of my gear, B sopped up the rest of the water with..

the towels - There was only one small problem, now there was a bathtub full of towels soaked in toilet water, which needed to be decontaminated washed, and my washing machine has, for years, only had the cold water functional. However, since we needed to be downtown, the whole issue had to be set aside for the time being, so that we could honor our commitment to the arts and go do a...

demo all day - This was my fourth year at Art In the Pearl as a demo artist. I take the small travelling kiln, and supplies, and spend the day talking to people about cloisonne and enameling, while also working on a sample enamel. (I handed out over thirty class flyers to interested folks.) It is a lot of fun to do that kind of public education, but rather strenuous to be "on" for so many hours, and my feet get tired standing on concrete for so long. By the time we returned to Acorn Cottage, all we could feel was...

the exhaustion - I offered to cook dinner, thinking that food would be a bit reviving, and B was so very tired that he fell asleep on the living room floor. Once we ate (shrimp and veggie stir fry over rice, steamed broccoli, panzanella) I explained the washing issues; (B made sure that I knew that once we shut the water to the house off, the problem needed to be repaired completely or there would be no water for any other use) and we decided that rather than go to the laundromat, we would take a trip to...

the big box hardware store - the only place open that late. Not too difficult to find a new faucet, I chose one with a ball valve (rather than the old fashioned kind that needs valve packing) since I do not want to go through this process again. Back at the house, the new faucet is attached successfully, but now the fancy new-fangled hoses with the internal check valves are confused and no longer allow any water through to the washer (ARGHHH!) Time is running out, but we need to make a...

second trip to the big box hardware store - Five minutes before they close, drop me off at the door and I'll run in and get two new hoses. The cashier is amused (in a kind way) to see us back so very soon. Finally, back at the house again, and the washer all re-assembled, and Houston, we have success! Hot water comes out when the dial is turned to that option. So...half the towels fill the washer, along with soap and bleach. Saturday night I am hanging...

laundry on the line at 11PM
- Still tired, but need to clean the bathroom enough so that showers are possible before bed, now that we have water again. I was really glad to get to the stage of...

the finally falling down asleep...

Which is why there is no picture of my S3 clothes for Saturday, . I wore a dress, in stripey blue on blue, and my Tea With Maneki-neko necklace, but there was no dang time to take a picture!
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Sunday was easier, there were no more plumbing issues (yay!) Dry, sweet-sunshine-smelling towels were folded and put away, and the rest washed and hung out in the sun. My wardrobe consists mostly of dresses right now; once the weather cools off, they become the underlayer, with pinafore jumpers worn over. Of course, I need to sew a few more of those, and that is what my autumn sewing will be, mostly, though I am still hoping to sew a raincoat. I also realised after Saturday's demo, that a shop apron would be an excellent thing. Sunday's dress was this grey leafy print, made from Ikea fabric. In the morning I wore it with a grey chambray pinafore, but by afternoon, it was too warm to wear two layers.
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Progress on the embroidery for the grey pinafore is almost completed, there has been a lot of transit time in the last week, and you can see that there is only a small area on the bird wing left unfinished. I'm fairly happy with the shading on this one, it has been a long while since I did this style of stitchery; much more like the happy hippie stitchery I did years ago, than the historically inspired embellishment on my SCA clothing. Although this is also a kind of period embroidery, just from a slightly more recent time...

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Friday, September 3, 2010

S3 - day 3

This is the first of the Japanese dresses made earlier this summer, and I like this one much more than the multicolored one. Partially since the print is in my favorite colors, and partially since the rayon has a wonderful very slightly creped texture, which makes it especially cool to wear. And today that was really necessary, almost 90F... Enough breeze so that when in the shade it was bearable, but the bus stops are mostly not shaded. And much to my dismay, the 72 bus had the air conditioning turned off, and most of the windows stuck shut. Not feeling much like twirling*, by the time I made my way home I was fit for nothing at all but to stand under a cold shower for a bit and cool down my poor baked noggin.
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The chickens got the freedom of the backyard today, so they could find the coolest spots under the arborvitae in the heat of the day. Once the ground softens again with the winter rains, my plan is to put in a bunch more fence stakes, so as to confine the hens to one side of the yard. Everything always takes longer than imagined. The ideal would be to give them all the yard not intended for garden, or clothesline, they seem so much happier when given a larger landscape. HP is moulting, and though the speckldy sisters are not, I am only getting about one egg a day. Very mysterious...
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Did you ever wonder about a Pale Beauty... (no, not the Procol Harum song, a Whiter Shade of Pale,) but that is actually the name of this lovely moth, which showed up one morning during Jen's birthday week. Isn't that the most amazingly cooling color...
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*As you can see it has quite a twirly hemline:
This dress is actually almost as easy to draft and put together as a Viking Apron Dress, being made of a combination of rectangles and triangles... Had I simply thought of it that way rather than getting all caught up in the clever diagram on the Kokka website, it would have been much easier to get right the first time.