Sunday, October 31, 2010

samhain sunday + SWAP 2011

Crafternoon was well attended, and it was wonderful to see some of my friends again. C and L arrived first, and found me still hanging out laundry and washing up the prep dishes; their gift of some frozen homegrown quince will become part of the November Canjam. E arrived a bit later, and brought V's repaired Navajo hand spindle, and a thrifted vintage ball-winder for me, as well as frozen blackberries from her yard. My thrifted swift has found it's soul-mate. Truly I am blessed with wonderful friends! Next to show up was A, who had just bought a new serger; we spent a fair bit of time sorting out the threading. I hope that she is as happy with it as I with mine. She also brought the fabric and pattern for her adaptation of this lovely skirt; I much prefer the flannel that she chose. M brought some of the fabrics that she was working on for her OryCon garb. By midafternoon there was much happy talking, and nibbling of various sweet and savory tidbits. S, and her sweetie B, showed up after their trip to the giant antique show, with nifty relics they had found. The Chinese opera coat and vest were beautifully made, and the coat fits her so well, though I rather covet the empty pocket watch case more than the clothing. (If I'd found such a thing, I'd make a miniature diorama inside.) B had found a pocketwatch with all the insides functional, and a straight razor with the most beautiful iridescent green celluloid handle, and a handful of vintage cufflinks... All too soon everyone had to leave and Acorn Cottage had a moment of quiet before the Halloween hordes ( not as many as last year, seemed like) arrived.
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Trick-or-treaters are done for the evening. The rain held off till later at night, so the little ones had a lovely soft evening to gad about in, and only the bigger ones were dampened. The highlights of the evening: One, my former neighbors came by with their child, they had moved away to find a bigger house when they were pregnant, and now have a sweet little boy, dressed for the night in a Star Trek outfit, but still too young to talk. He was more interested in the crinkly wrapping than in the candy inside. Two: the dreadlocked papa who was fascinated by noticed the large spider that lives next to the front walkway, there is a magnificent new web, after having it all blown down in the windy weather last week, and made sure to point it out the the children with him who seemed equally fascinated. Real webs are better than draping the yard with wisps of plastic fluff... Three: the brother and sister who came by mid evening, dressed as some sort of anime, who saw the maneki-neko noren hanging in the living room and admired it so, telling me of their dream of someday go to Japan. I sighed and said "me too..."
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The guidelines for the 2011 SWAP are up, and I'm trying to decide if I want to participate:

Option # 3
5 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
4 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
1 bottom - jeans, pants, shorts, skirt or kilt.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

3 garments may be purchased or previously sewn.
1 may be knitted or crocheted.

Now here's your twist:
Every garment should be made with a technique or feature that you haven't tried, or haven't mastered

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2010.

I can think of any number of sewing techniques that I have not really attempted, or that I have tried but done poorly, the challenge would be to come up with at least seven unfamiliar techniques that would work with the clothing that I like to wear.

The techniques that are my favorites get used over and over again. I love bias bound edges, and patch pockets, and simple embroidery, and rarely if ever use facings, or zippers. Reminds me of when taking the behind the wheel test in WA, (I'd been driving at that point for more than twenty years) and I flunked parallel parking. The testing officer was not amused by my comment that I normally simply drove further away to find an easier place to park, as walking was simpler than parallel parking GreenTiger, my old VW microbus. It is simpler to bind edges than to hem them, simpler to make patch pockets, simpler to get dressed when clothing can just drop over your head than needing zipped or buttoned...

Have been mulling this one over for the last two days, and will continue mulling for the next month or so. Some possibilities are:
zipper insertion, such as lapped zippers, invisible zippers, hand-picked zippers...
welt pockets, double and/or single
proper use of stay tape, on knits and for shoulders
rouleaux, as decoration
bound buttonholes
inset applique
Alabama Chanin style applique/embellishment/construction

Not sure what will be realistic, useful, and appropriate.
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big cat pumpkin fun

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beat with an ugly stick

...that is how it feels the day after. Yesterday not so much, but today I can feel everywhere that gravity had its way with me. Wrenched hip. Bashed elbow. Banged-up knee. Would that as a youngster I had learned to fall well...

I never have learned to fall well.

I've seen it done. In my twenties I lived with J, who, one evening when we were walking in Back Bay, slipped on the ice and did a kind of circular cartwheel/somersault (very impressive as he was over six foot tall and had long blond hair to match), came back up standing, and continued the conversation quite calmly.

I tried, when in my thirties and a student at Evergreen, to learn Aikido. Partially for the self-defense/martial art aspect, but primarily for the learning how to fall. I was an abysmal failure. One of the very first exercises to begin learning to fall was to do a forward roll (somersault) which I was completely unable to do, though not for lack of attempting it.

I could do them as a child, and my mind remembered how, but my body at that point had lost the way. The instructor had no clever way to help me find the motion again, and I ended up wrenching my neck so badly that I spent a week and a half walking around looking off to one side, before D rubbed my neck and shoulders out and readjusted my neck to look forward again. I never did figure out the forward roll, and ended up dropping the class, since all further progress was dependent on the initial step which my body refused to take. Sigh.

I never have learned to fall well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday fragments

My friend N (the same N who brought me back a tiny turned wood box from Bhutan with bits and bobs of trailside rocks and stuff) brought me more rocks, pumice from Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta, and a strange bit of wood that looks like a kind of root-burl. Also the waveworn center of a conch from Mexico. My heart is brightened knowing that friends think of me whilst in faraway places, places I've not been, on mountaintops and ocean beaches...

The Canjam food for November has been announced, and it is (a bit more variety than I'd guessed) apples-and-pears-and-quinces oh my! Can you say pome fruit? I knew you could. Hmmm that covers a fair bit of possibility for preserving, while applesauce is always good, there are still Seckel pears at the grocery. Anyone local have quinces to spare?

Last weekend when my friend K came to visit with her pal D, they brought me a bunch of sunflowers. One of the benefits of not yet turning on the heat is that flowers last a loooong time, they've been cheery company on the dining table all week. Maybe next year it will be necessary to grow some, as long-lasting cut flowers are a happy thing, since there are no windows here with enough light for house plants to do well indoors.

Gravity is a harsh mistress, and when you are distracted, she reminds you to pay attention. Sometimes it seems that my adolescent clumsiness has returned, but really it is just dusk, and thinking of other things. Fortunately it was not as bad a fall as the times last year, I'll feel it tomorrow, definitely, but hopefully aspirin and ice will do their magic.

Tomorrow will be a housey day - cleaning and cooking and crafting. The floors could use a good vacuuming before Crafternoon on Sunday, and methinks a spice cake would be a good idea for Sunday as well, or maybe little spicey acorn cakelets. And somewhere in there needs to be a trip to get supplies for the trick-or-treaters that will be showing up on Sunday night...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

well that was fun!

My dear friend R asked me if coming along with her and her husband C on a mushroom hunting expedition sounded like something enjoyable, as she and I had planned to get together today, and he was eager for some woods-walking time. It has been far too long since I have been out of the city, and even longer since out in the woods.

We spent the rainy afternoon clambering uphill and down, over fallen logs and through the misty moisty forest. There were many many mushrooms to see, big toxic ones and little tiny red-brown ones, and cauliflower mushrooms, though none big enough to eat. There were some that looked like sea glass, and one that looked like an ice cream cone, white on the outside and reddish orange on the inside. And oh so exciting, there were golden mushrooms, with a wonderful subtle scent of the forest; quite a few chanterelles, and some came home to Acorn Cottage. Aren't they pretty...

Monday, October 25, 2010

somewhat of an update + Sunday crafternoon

Overall, life here is improving, my back continues to calm down, and the PT exercises seem to be helping. Today they gave me new exciting ones, (that include my arms), with the giant orange rubber band. The pain level is finally down enough that I can focus brain-hands-eyes in a way that feels like me again. Really, though it might have sounded like that was already happening, cooking and sewing are much closer to things that can be done on my automatic pilot, but coming up with new imagery, and complex pattern alterations require more synaptic efforts...
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sewing: current and planned for the future...
The new rain hat is working splendidly, given the current weather patterns of completely dumping rain, that is saying a lot. To make progress on a new raincoat is needful, but fitting that will entail multiple pattern alterations with the attendant multiple muslins, so that project is on the back burner, simmering 'till the design details are fully cooked.

This weekend's project was a denim "overall-style" pinafore, morphing the TNT pattern by adding an overall back and straps, and a different pocket style as well. Used up a good bit of salvaged duvet fabric, a nice soft lightweight medium blue denim, and scraps of darker blue for the edge binding. Thought about edge binding the pockets as well, but decided that eye-catching detail at hip level was not necessary. There might eventually be a decorative center bodice pocket, as this graphic is calling me to do something similar, possibly freezer paper stenciled.
I'm loving how the clothes that I've been sewing all this year all work together in layers to mix and match. While it might be "boring" to stick with a limited color range, it sure makes getting dressed in the morning a snap. And it must not look too dull, because twice in the last week I've had total strangers come up to me and tell me how they love my style... (Once while I was window shopping in Anthropologie downtown!)

One of many sites on my visit regularly list is the Stitcher's Guild message board; the seasonal sewing collection challenge has been helpful and inspiring. Though I've not managed to do as much sewing this autumn as I'd hoped, there has been progress made. My initial plan was to do 2 pinafore-jumpers, a blouse, a tunic, a pair of pants and a raincoat between the beginning of August and the end of October...

What has been completed are three pinafore-jumpers: one pinwale grey corduroy with embroidery, one widewale grey corduroy, one blue denim with decorative edgebinding, and a waterproof Gore-tex rainhat.

The grey widewale corduroy ended up with the patchwork trim along the hem edge; while it started out on the navy corduroy, it was intended all along for this pinafore instead. The navy one got its own hem trim, spirally vine-y embroidery on more of the navy corduroy, and an inset band of light grey jacquard. The light grey is actually a bit too light, and might look well darkened somehow, possibly with fabric painted spots in indigo blue...

The next quarter (beginning of November to end of February), the collection looks like this:
Trousers/skirt (dark neutral)
2 Tops (1 to match, 1 to complement)
2 layering tops/cardigans/jackets (1 to match, 1 to complement)
Coat (dark netural)

which shall be adapted to my wardrobe by making:
pinafore jumper (black)
textured rayon tunic top (black)
Teagarden T (blue)
handknit stripey sleeve cardigan sweater (blue)
raincoat (black)
(and possibly something additional in black,
maybe this button-up-the-front semi-steampunk cowl
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Eating up the last of the summertime, there were a few eggplants on the now battered driveway plants, and actually a few cherry tomatoes, combined with the new eggs that are showing up in the henhouse, it looks a lot like Mediterranean quiche to me, add a little feta and call it good!

Am considering making a 2011 calender. Haven't yet looked on Etsy, but there is nothing in the local shops currently that appeals. Perhaps it is time to return to alphasketch, and the second half of the alphabet...
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Sunday crafternoon this weekend. Yes, it is Samhain/Halloween, but if you are free in the afternoon come on over to Acorn Cottage, noon to five-ish. No sushi dinner downtown afterwards, as it will be handing out candy to the neighborhood youngsters time instead.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

weather or not...

...we are ready, the rainy season will soon be here.

With that in mind, my first priority has been finishing the rain hat. This is my second homemade rainhat, as the first was too small. For this one I was able to add a nifty detail: tiny loops to anchor hat decoration.
Being very fond of hatbands and suchlike, this will allow things to be attached to the hat without compromising the waterproof aspect, as the seam the loops pass through is sealed. It will be interesting to look for suitable rainproof bits to use, as the silk scarf and wool flowers from my denim hat are clearly inappropriate.

Working with Goretex is fiddly, not specifically for the sewing, but the seam sealing is a trial. The sealing tape must be heat-set in place, and my iron is an awkward tool for small curved spaces. If not exceedingly careful with the press cloth, hot iron parts can contact unprotected areas and melt the coating on the fabric. Fortunately that only happened twice, and with extra seam sealing tape, was repaired.

Since the first hat does not fit me, it is up for a giveaway, being too useful to discard. The hat is waterproof, black Goretex, and in the same style as my own hat pictured here. It will fit a small adult or large child, with a head circumference of 22" or smaller, the pattern called that size "medium".
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Took advantage of the remaining sunshine yesterday to gather more bay nuts - picked up another 5lb from the big tree on the next street over. It took about a half hour; peeling off the husks took about an hour and a half. The yield was 2lb nuts, the rest gone to use as mulch. Perhaps the husks would be a good natural dyestuff, as it definitely stains my hands a rusty orange color. Some folks use avocado peel as a dyestuff and the plants are related...
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Yesterday, there was a fresh egg laid in the henhouse... Perhaps it was premature to assume that there would be no homegrown eggs this winter, or maybe HennyPenny can tell that thoughts of stewing hen soup are in my mind?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

wishful Wednesday: Spirit Day

Today is Spirit Day, and like many others I am wearing purple, as a comment about the current upswing in suicide, young people bullied for being gay are dying, this is not okay. There are various efforts being made both online and off, to try to change things, to let those trapped in their lives know that if you can hang gets better.

I'm not really sure what wearing purple will change, but it feels a bit like the black armbands we wore back when I was in high school (when rocks were soft) and we were trying to end our involvement in the Vietnam War. I had to really look to find something purple to wear, my clothing is mostly indigo and black, but finally found one t-shirt... there were several folks on the bus to work that were also wearing purple, and here and there on the street, but I saw the most on the workers at my beloved local grocery store, the Arbor Lodge New Seasons.

I was bullied a lot by my "peers" while growing up, both verbally and physically, and it hurt a lot. Hurt my sense of who I was, hurt my body when I was harmed, hurt my belief in my right to be a part of the world. If I'd not had an escape, not had a kindly family, I too might have decided that leaving life behind was a better option.

My friend MRW said on Facebook today: "I think we ought to be wearing purple to show our OPPOSITION to all forms of Hate and Abuse against ANYBODY for ANY REASON! Hate, intolerance, and abuse destroy lives, and damage our entire society! Let's all try to be just a bit more tolerant, and celebrate the diversity in our lives!"

So my wish for this Wednesday is for an end to bullying. We are all individuals, we are not all the same, but we are all precious and wonderful; the work of the world needs us all, gay, straight, bi, neuter, partnered or single...we all have a home on this tiny planet, let's do what we can to live together in harmony

This just might be: Awesome Sauce

As in made of win and covered with...

There were five little peppers, not the old-fashioned childrens story, but two red jalapeños and three hot cherry peppers. They were looking just a bit sad, being leftover from all the previous compendium of capsicums. This tasty sounding British Chilli Jam seemed a good additional possibility.

Now mind, Acorn Cottage has a kitchen scale, so weighing out the ingredients was no trouble at all. There is a bag of Roma tomatoes in the chest freezer set aside for making condiments and sauces; if you freeze tomatoes whole, it is easy to slip off their skins as they start thawing, which I did, though the original recipe said it wasn't necessary, (tomato skins can sometimes taste bitter). Aside from that, there were no changes from the original.

This was simmering all evening during my Tuesday Open Studio night, sending delectable fragrance throughout the house. After A finished and the studio shut down for the night, the jammy sauce was processed and the leftover bits sampled. I licked the ladle before dumping it in the dishwater. OmGumYum that is sooo very tasty! There are now four different capsicum condiments for wintertime delight.

400g whole tomatoes
5 chile peppers
2 small ginger knobs
6 cloves garlic
30ml Thai fish sauce

½ c red wine vinegar
450g sugar

400g whole tomatoes

Blend 400g whole tomatoes,
chillies, garlic, ginger, and Thai fish sauce.
Add sugar and red wine vinegar.
Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, finely chop another 400g tomatoes.
Add them to the pan, and gently simmer.

It will take some time to cook down...
Keep watch so it does not catch and burn
When suitably thickened, jar and process

5+ 4oz jars - ¼" headspace - process 15 minutes
I did check the National Center for Food Preservation site to make certain that the recipe was sufficiently acidulated to be safe, and to get a suitable processing time. The closest similar recipe was for "Country Western Ketchup", and this recipe has significantly more vinegar in proportion to the other ingredients.

This is actually also part of my Tigress Can Jam entry for the month of October...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday tidbits: random small projects

Finally took a bit of time and stitched together the parts of the knitted jellyfish that I promised B's nephew A when he was visiting this summer; now to find out where the family is living so it can be mailed off...

The first attempt at making a rainhat came out quite well, with one problem - the hat is too small! (about 22 7/8") The combination of the seam-sealing tape +the lack of stretchiness + the nice soft fleece lining = not quite the right size for my noggin. Thinking of offering it as a giveaway. Fortunately there is enough of the Gore-tex for me to make another larger hat before the winter rains start, and Rose City Textiles is actually quite accessible by transit, even though they are in the NW industrial zone. If you plan any outdoor-type project they are friendly, helpful, and have an astonishingly wide array of supplies and material, as well as an interesting selection of knit fabrics, including sustainable/organic.

Working out a design for the coat-into-vest SCA sewing project I volunteered for, as part of the group of folks that are working on clothing for the incoming royalty. This should be fun, and I'm enjoying looking at the inspirational images album posted by K, thinking about some large-ish scale Scythian animal motifs... Of course, this project is currently a bunch of pieces of wool, and unfinished coat-garment to be remodeled, some felt, some floss, and a bunch of nifty little silvery metal dome-studs.

Spent another several hours on the phone to DHS attempting to straighten out the confusion around my HMO selection. Every person I've spoken with has been very helpful, but every person has told me something different. Each time it is supposedly sorted out another new letter arrives a week later with different information, sigh...

My young hens are moulting, and the days are shorter week by week - there will be no more Acorn Cottage eggs 'till spring. The store eggs just don't taste as good, even the spendy free-range organic ones. Maybe next year will be the year to check out how well eggs freeze, and put the summer excess into storage for the dark days.

How do folks feel about a Halloween Crafternoon? I'm planning on the afternoon of the 31st, so do let me know if you want to come on over.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tigress Can Jam - A compilation of capsicum condiments

This is the last heat dream of summer... There's a whole box of 4oz. jars that will be just right for several small batches with the CanJam ingredient of the month: Thai-style sweet chili sauce, salsa verde, "hot pink" jalapeño jelly, and Awesome Sauce, (which gets it's very own post, two days in the future).
just to get in the mood...

After reading this, about how tomatillos are actually safely acidic for water bath canning, a small batch of salsa verde sounded like just the thing to add a little savor through the cold winter. I adapted the recipe from here, adding a bit of lime juice and a clove of garlic, and only one jalapeño, to suit my own taste.

1# tomatillos
¼ c chopped onion
1 large green jalapeño
¼ c chopped cilantro
1 small clove garlic
1 t salt
2 T lime juice
Remove husks, wash, and simmer tomatillos
till softened and color changes.

Blend them with all the other ingredients,
bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

five 4oz. jars -
½" headspace - process 25 minutes

There is a great sweet chili sauce sold at my local grocery, but it comes in a huge bottle, and the fridge here is, as previously mentioned, only a bit bigger than a shoebox. It seems, though, that it is an absolute doddle to make up, using ingredients easily sourced and requiring virtually no prep work... I used this recipe, scaled down to make a smaller batch.
2 T minced garlic
¾ t salt
2 T red pepper flakes

1½ c cider vinegar
1½ c sugar

Set aside garlic, pepper flakes and salt.

In a non-reactive pan, bring the vinegar to a boil,
add the sugar. When dissolved, simmer 5 minutes.

Remove from heat,
stir in the garlic/pepper/salt mixture

five 4oz. jars - ½" headspace - process 15 minutes

Several friends had mentioned jalapeno jelly, and when this recipe turned up, I couldn't resist. Using apples and cranberries for pectin and color seemed ideal. Again, scaled down for a smaller batch, and using just a little less sugar.
1# tart apples
2 red jalapeños
¼ c cranberries
¾ c water
¾ c vinegar

¾c sugar
per c of juice
Wash apples, remove stems,
cut into rough chunks (including peel and core).
Slice jalapeños in half lengthwise,
remove seeds and ribs,
(or not, if you like really hot jelly)

Put everything except the sugar in a pan,
bring to a boil, simmer till softened.

Strain through cloth to get clear red juice.
(I usually let it sit overnight)
Add the appropriate amount of sugar.
Heat gently, then bring to a boil,
boil until setting point is reached

three 4oz. jars - ¼" headspace - process 10 minutes
I'm still having a bit of trouble gauging when the set point is reached - sometimes the result is syrup instead of jelly, and this time the set was very strong; almost as soon as the pan was off the heat, it set. Getting the jelly into the jars was a bit dicey, but in the end doable. It is an incredible shade of hot pink, almost cerise. The jelly is sweet, with a nice pepper aftertaste; if making it again, more of the seeds and ribs would definitely increase the heat, as my initial trial was aiming for gentle rather than painful warmth. This would make interesting thumbprint cookies, maybe white chocolate with the hot pink jelly.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"those balls will be your fortune"

Finished knitting baby bootees for La Infanta, and will be putting together a package to send northwards on Monday, hopefully these will help keep her tender self warm this winter...

The bootee pattern is basically sound, though I kept losing my place as to which was the "right side" (an easy thing to do with garter stitch), and forgetting if "end on the wrong side" meant to stop at the beginning or the end of a wrong side row. Really, I think that transit knitting needs to be something just a bit less fiddley, as it is necessary to not lose track of where you are on the bus route as well as where you are in the knitting pattern...
The little lime green spheres please me immensely! I figured out how to make them, knit in the round, with worsted yarn, on three little needles:
knit around once
(k1, inc1)3 times
(k1, inc1, k1, inc1)3 times.
You will now have 4 stitches on each needle.
K two rounds
(k2tog,k2tog) 3 times
stop and stuff some yarn or fleece into the proto-sphere
k2tog 3 times
Cut the yarn, leaving a long-ish tail, and the knitting still on the needles. Using a yarn needle, thread the yarn-tail through the live stitches and pull closed, making sure that the stuffing stays inside the sphere. Stitch through the sphere with the yarn ends to anchor them closed and either cut off or use to stitch to desired project.

Hmmm, might be fun to make some spheres to use for knitterly jewelry...
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Tune in tomorrow for the capsicum compendium, my recipes for the month of October Tigress CanJam...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

good, bad, and wierd?

The good is that my back continues to improve, albeit slowly. The PT exercises get a bit easier, albeit equally slowly. Lots of time riding on the bus meant that the hat I am making for La Infanta is finished, and I'm about halfway done with the matching bootees. Littly-girlchild accessories are so quick to knit!
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Today was the second half of my eye health exam. Mostly the visual fields test, to keep tabs on my optic nerve function, but they also took a second set of pictures of the inside of my eye, fortunately without having to dilate the pupil this time. This time I asked if I could see the pictures, since undilated eyes can focus, and it was fascinating the different views possible through computer modeling magic. The technician even offered to print printed me out a copy of the simple view to keep! (I thought about posting the picture here, but decided that was a bit too weird, just because I find it interesting doesn't mean that folks want to see retinal images...)
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The bad is that my beloved REI rainhat is definitely gone. On a day of pain and spaciness, I left it on the bus when it stopped raining, and it was never turned in to Tri-Met lost and found, alas. I guess I will be learning to work with Goretex, and that will be my Very Next Project, as the relatively warm and dry-ish weather will not last long. Fortunately there is a good supplier of suitable outdoor fabric and supplies: Rose City Textiles; and fortunately I already have the perfect hat pattern.(PDF image, slow)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

two good things Tuesday

pickles, and enameling... but not together!

Tuesday night is Open Studio time here at Acorn Cottage; for those who have taken a workshop with me it is a chance to continue enameling without having to acquire your own kiln, and with a friendly native guide (moi) hanging about to answer questions.

My newest student A is very excited about cloisonne, and is making great progress on the pieces that she started in my September enameling workshop. (Usually I recommend starting with one small piece the size of a penny or a dime, she chose to work on two separate pieces each the size of a dollar coin.) Her pieces are very nearly completed, the three raven heads is finished, and the other (celtic spirals) needs one more firing and it will also be complete.

student work: 3 raven heads, made by AH

Not wanting the tiny cucumbers purchased yesterday to go to waste, some time in the kitchen yielded this jar full of future pickley goodness. I followed the recipe here, save that since there was no large bottles of white wine vinegar at the grocery I used organic cider vinegar instead. In a month or so, they will be ready to taste. Not sure where this impulse came from, as pickles have never been a favorite of mine, but they will be nice for guests...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday musings and media

This morning felt like the beginning of wintertime, all of a sudden the walls and bathroom floor were cold. When I woke up to feed the hens, the reason was clear, the bedroom window had been left wide open all night! That never happens, the windows have wooden stops; must have been so very tired for part of the regular nighttime routine to be forgotten like that.

But nonetheless, some new warm slippers, and flannel and wool will jump the queue to the top of my sewing/knitting list, along with the jumper for A and finishing up the three partial pinafores already started for me. One of the two new coat patterns can have a muslin made from a flannel bedsheet, which should be a good way to both check the fit, and create a new bathrobe. The first japanese dress, the one with the overlap neckline - it occurs to me that would be very cozy for a winter nightgown...
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Today was another trip to physical therapy. No electrical adventures today. I am making progress and have three new exercises to do, to start building some inner strength; simple motions that nonetheless are astonishingly difficult and tiring, but that is probably why they are necessary.
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There are still small pickling cucumbers at New Seasons, and today I saw a basket full of Seckel pears, somehow, the urge to do a bit of pickling is overwhelming. For the cucumbers, I might try a refrigerator pickle, just to have a tiny amount on hand. The recipes for pickled pears looks a lot like the one for pickled beets, which is a very easy process.

The current transit knitting project is a baby hat for La Infanta, soon to be followed by a new set of warm little boots - she is not a year old yet; knitting for someone so small takes almost no time at all. Then it will be back to the Moody Blues sweater project.
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in which knitting saves the day...

...just in case you haven't seen it already
Double-click to embiggen

Sunday, October 10, 2010

stitching and scavenging

Since there was a break in the rain this afternoon, it was a good time to go and check out the bay nut tree on the next block. Picked up quite a few, which after peeling off the rind, totaled out at about a pound. Of course once they dry that will be less, but there will be more on the ground tomorrow. Only the one tree in the neighborhood seems to have any nuts this year, if they are bee pollinated, that is the one that is closest to the local hives...

Being out and about, I braved the local Goodwill (October is not a fun shopping month there). Found an old wooden tripod, which might work for the digital camera, or if not, could possibly become the base of a floor lamp. Another find was the half-price handknit blue wool pullover; while not a Useful Style, it is a lot of nice yarn for $3.50 (once unraveled). That will be a nice mindless project, should circumstances call for suchlike.

Still very tired, back sloooowly improving, more physical therapy tomorrow...

Sewing this weekend: went to this local sewing studio on Saturday afternoon with E, we got there about half an hour after they started, and the big room in back was full up. I'd hoped to get access to a larger table for cutting out than I have here at Acorn Cottage. We ended up setting up in the front room, which had a conference table; and just in the next room where the reception desk was, there was a standing ironing table. Oh my word, what wonderfulness! My ironing board at home is sweet, vintage, painted wood (padded with layers of wool blanket) and too short even for my short legs. Added to my eternally growing list of to-do is now: creating an ironing station that is "just the right height" , maybe some kind of drop leaf/attached to the wall kind of thing? More thought is needed...

Several weeks ago, I scored a length of cotton knit fabric to use for making a "muslin" of the Teagarden T, which given the odd shape of the one pattern piece, is a bit tricksy to alter. Since the pattern piece is so large, being the entire side of the shirt (half a front, including the collar, the whole sleeve, and half the back), it was very helpful to have a larger space to lay it out, and the pattern paper was handy too! That will be one of the two next projects to be worked on, as well as a dress for A.

The "protective coloration" pinafore now has pockets added. Rather than my usual rectangular patch pockets, this one has curved edge pockets with the edges bound in self bias binding, to match the edge binding. Another grey pinafore, this one had been cut out ages ago, is now almost completed. The fabric was originally my bedroom curtains when I lived at Fjords End, a nice heavy wide wale corduroy. Decided to go ahead and take the patchy trim off it's current home and add it to this one, (as that had been the original plan). There is an hand-embroidered length (summertime transit project) of the same navy corduroy that is ready to be attached to the navy pinafore, so they will both be an appropriate length and both have hemline decoration. These Marimekko dresses look so very playful; I'm thinking about doing something similar, using pinwale corduroy for the multiple pockets, just because it would be fun.

Note to self: do not cut fabric after 11PM. Moving hand away from business end of scissors is vital. Scissors is sharp, fingertips are soft (bandaids are good)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


...a happy birthday wish for John Lennon, who would have been 70 today

Friday, October 8, 2010

Warm Wooly Winter Wardrobe aka W4

One of the fun things on Ravelry is the "free pattern testers" forum group, where you can sign up to do test knitting of patterns that designers are working out. By checking in periodically, some pretty interesting projects have come my way... like these two cowls, and this bag. This current project reminded me quite a bit of a soft Elizabethan ruff, and was quite the fastest knit that has come off my needles; I'm not a fast knitter and it only took three days (of spare time/transit time). Methinks that this would make a great gift knit, takes about 2 1/2 oz of worsted weight and one button. The pattern hasn't been released yet, but when it is, I'll link it here.

can be worn either open or folded over

Next up transit knitting project will be a pixie hat and booties for "La Infanta", the daughter of my friends M & T up in Olympia. The green Malabrigo from last months swap is just the yarn for a tender baby girl, it is soooo very soft, like knitting with cloud yarn. I'll be using this free pattern for the hat, enlarging it as necessary to fit a 9 month old, and searching for some suitably pixie-ish little boots.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday thoughts and thankfuls

A bit less grumpy now, but this post will be short since my eyes are still dilated from my visit to the doctor this afternoon, I turned down the contrast and brightness on the monitor, but things are still pretty fuzzy/rainbow-y... (No photos either, since no focus of the eyeballs possible currently) The technology to take all the measurements on my eyes has changed in the many years since last done, but sadly, they couldn't give me a copy of the digital baseline pictures of my wonky optic nerve to post here... (looked vaguely like photos of the sun, all red and orangy-yellow and round)

Though once again the Tri-met website sent me on an odd journey, taking a bus that didn't actually go where I needed to be this afternoon, it was a lovely grey cool day, and walking from where I realised that we were nowhere near my destination, to where I needed to be, was a pleasure. And the busdriver today was wearing the oddest busdriver outfit I'd seen so far: a kilt! (or else maybe a blue skirt?!?) with big burly suspenders.

When returning home, there was a little package on my doorstep, a surprise gift from the observant and thoughtful E. That kindness completely turned my day around, and I look forward to trying the special relaxing tea, and to creating some suitable setting for the lovely bit of carving... Thank you so very much!

Not being able to do anything much at all that requires close vision, the rest of today has been napping and knitting. Unexpected, and pleasant. The current yarnish project is coming along nicely, another test knit. The double ruffled design is very different from my more utilitarian style; the cable pattern on this is really appealing, like a kind of very nicely rounded chain; I'm curious to see how it looks as worn, when finished, (which will be very soon, even with my slow knitting, this one is relatively fast). It took me a bit to get into the rhythm of the pattern, but it is actually simple. Tried knitting the cable without a cable needle and that was harder for me than the traditional way. This colorway of Malabrigo ("pearl ten") is absolutely scrumptious, it is a sort of iridescent grey, very lively, looks almost like abalone shell. Hmmm… must see if there are any abalone shell buttons in my button box for when this is finished.

Picked up a bunch of bay-nuts on the way home this afternoon, the big tree on the next block over is finally ripe, and they are falling to the street and sidewalk. The owners were amused at my gathering them, so that will continue for the time being, and they were large enough to be easily seen even with my eyes all funky. This year I'll not make the mistake of drying them too quickly (which cracks the shells), but simply let them air dry. Did you know that the tree is related to the avocado? The oily husk stained my fingers an orangey color, perhaps there is a dyestuff potential there as well... (read more about the bay nut tree here)

Grateful for: OHP, friends, a modest yarn stash and my mother for teaching me to knit, unstuckification, the shelter of Acorn Cottage, and the internet, which has changed the face of research for me forever.

...we're here to help...

thanks to L for posting this, I needed cheering up...

Why do I need a bit of extra cheer you may ask... remember a while ago when this happened? (halfway down that post is the WTF from last month)

Well, today I get a call from Salem that the information that I brought in to the DHS office, which was copied and faxed that day, is actually missing one vital stamping (that should have been applied by a caseworker after I handed it over the counter) and hence is invalid. So I need to go again to the DHS office and do it all over again. I had nothing planned for this morning anyway ...(not, but there you have it) Thank heavens for knitting, which is my calm-down activity of choice (yarn, it is the new Prozac)

Back still wonky, nothing new to report, move along now...

Had a wonderful time on Tuesday with open studio, A is a delightful student and very enthusiastic. I simply must push myself encourage myself to find more teaching possiblities, as that is a pathway that lifts my spirits and feeds who I am. Step outside of my fears and difficulty and do it.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

Monday, October 4, 2010

blue Monday

Some small improvement in how my back feels, but oh so slow... I'm dreading my housecleaning all day job today...

This weekend I began preparation for this months CanJam (October's food is capsicum). With that thought in mind, a trip to the big crowded Saturday farmers market downtown, with a stop at New Seasons on the way home, yielded some necessary supplies. Soon there will be a dozen or more tiny jarsfull of spicy treats to add savor to the coming wintertime...

And thinking of cooler weather to come had me gather up yarn, to use for the sleeves of my current project: the Moody Blues sweater, named for the band that was my first favorite as a young thing back in the day...

While I love this beautiful sweater, it is made from delicate and expensive yarns, and only sold as a complete kit, which places it entirely out of range both in size and cost. I even wrote to the designer asking if she ever planned to release just the pattern - "no". While I could reverse engineer it from the picture, that would be somewhat challenging, and there is nowhere near anything like enough lightweight yarn in my small stash, in colors that would make a Useful Garment.

What there is, is a fair amount of Aran-weight greyed teal/indigo yarn, salvaged from my former blue wool sweater, and a lot of random worsted-weight yarn in other blue/grey/indigo/brownish colors. Since the plan is always to use what is here, my thought was to make something in the spirit of the design, but that would fit my size and pocketbook.

Last winter, I used the pattern "Sonnet" to make a vest; the pattern is easy to customise for style and fit, and is very wearable. My current idea is to make the body of the vest with the blue Aran yarn, in garter and seed stitch, and to make stripey sleeves, using the many smaller amounts of colorful worsted yarn, and in stockinette stitch (rather than the bunchy garter and box stitch sleeves in the original design) The edges will have darker I-cord edging, to again refer to the stripey bolero.

Friday, October 1, 2010

cogitation on S3 + other Friday fragments

... in which our plucky heroine mulls over wardrobe thoughts, experiences the electric tailbone, eats the mascot, and suffers the return of the cranky commode...
≈ : ♥ : ≈

Self Stitched September has ended, though the slideshow is still here. During the last month various things were learned regarding my current preferences in clothing and sewing...

~ Pattern on pattern is a Good Thing, providing that the component pieces are similar in (light/dark) value

~ A shirt/jacket worn over a dress looks really good; future sewing should plan for this with shirts and blouses.

~ It isn't that difficult to coordinate my jewelry with my clothing; must needs remember to continue to do this, and remember to actually wear  jewelry. Want to make some brooches, and experiment with combining materials in new ways...

~ After making six all the same dresses in different fabrics, working out some new TNT dress pattern design will be welcome. Probably a shirt-dress, with a button front. The other large gap in my wardrobe is summer dresses; the two japanese rayon shifts were worn repeatedly, more for next summer will be required, and working out a TNT pattern for a sleeveless pinafore/jumper/sundress would be very helpful.

~ Still really loving the muddy indigo/grey color range, but am starting to be drawn to the brownish/taupe/linen end of that group. Once the current batch of clothing is stitched up, hopefully the fabric stash will hold, somewhere in the myriad boxes, colors that will be just a little bit different to play with...
≈ : ♥ : ≈

At PT yesterday, which was a new and different adult life experience, the chosen treatment consisted of having electrodes attached on either side of my tailbone, (with a large iceblanket draped overtop, across the back/hip area) and then for a length of time with the "active" current is gradually increased. A most peculiar, not particularly pleasant, sensation. My understanding is that the intention is to encourage the sacroiliac joint that is both inflamed and hyper-tight to relax somewhat, which should both ease the pain and allow more circulation to encourage healing. It was certainly not a miracle cure, but it does seem that today the pain is dialed back a bit from 9+ to a more endurable 7ish. There are back stretches too, that are prescribed, and one of them is the same as one of the stretches that M suggested.
≈ : ♥ : ≈

Riding the bike is the least uncomfortable position right now/still, and I love riding to the grocery store, (when it isn't raining). Last night the temperature dropped to pleasant softness, and dusk is comforting to my pale eyes. Red and blue sparkle-flashing lights lend a modicum of safety, and I am very cautious, always, about automobiles. Not sure how much longer before the winter damp sets in, but for now, it was a pleasure, and a chunk of time closer to painless.
≈ : ♥ : ≈

Visitors the last two days, which was almost unexpected, but still and always a treat. B and J came down from OlyWa, along with Toshi the Wonder Pup. When they arrived, late Wednesday evening, we had a late supper of chowder and seaweed salad they had brought from home. For all that I love seafood, I'd never eaten geoduck (renowned mascot of my alma mater TESC*) before, and the pieces in the chowder were similar to scallops but more tender, not at all texturally scary**.

Though my friends were busy working long days, we had some evening time for visiting, eating at La Superior, and watching a bit of Cowboy Bebop (thanks to E for the loan). I got plenty of puppy interaction, but no pictures this time. Really, Toshi is like summertime corn, growing almost as you watch - a lot larger now than last month when I visited them at home. Hooray for sweet giant Akita dogs!
≈ : ♥ : ≈

Oh, and this morning the gorram Cranky Commode treated us all to a rerun of the same shenanigans that occurred over Labor Day weekend***. Really if this is going to happen every time there are guests here, it is Not Okay! Time to do some more research, and make some phone calls. Useful Advice is welcome; it is probably possibly time to think replacement...

* school motto Omnia Extares ("let it all hang out"); school song "The Geoduck Fight Song"

** I love shrimp, and scallops, and things like lobster and crab, but clams and mussels scare me

*** The Strange Case of the Cranky Commode