Friday, June 29, 2012

tut tut

Last week, our plucky heroine went up to Seattle

to the Science Center, where I'd never been before, despite living for a number of years in that city...

There are all kinds of whimsical pond sculptures

and curious watchers...

...strange exhibits and odd things...

as well as arches of the somewhat geodesic sort.

But our goal was to see the Egyptian artifact exhibit, and it did not disappoint, (although the Science Center crowd handling logistics were execrable)

There were spectacular sculptures...

...of various sizes, many much larger than life size...

...though this odd figure seems to have embraced cubical life a bit more than most!

This vertical sculpture is related to the cult of Anubis, and depicts an inflated animal skin with a long tail spiraled around the post, terminating in a lotus pod. The figures in the background are larger than life size, so this is not a small object, just rather curious looking

This was one panel of a stone cat sarcophagus. It had different cat images on each side

Carved wooden box inlaid with faience

carved alabaster urn, backlit

This relatively simple necklace was one of my favorites; as the stringing is all original, so this was how the artist far in the past had intended it to be. The beads have extremely large hole, they are more of a ring/bead, and the terminals at each end appear to be bone or ivory, carved with lotus petals and acting as end-caps.

amazing metalwork - the cloisons which once held colored material are all empty, but the beauty of the workmanship is spectacular

Previously, I had only ever seen this well known piece in pictures... would that I had been able to capture the beauty of the lapis, gold and stone inlaywork. Alas, photography through glass while attempting not to be jostled by the every increasing crowds, was very difficult

earring? with carved semi precious stones

Hawk headed necklace terminal (Horus)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Still coughing like mad from the turrible rhinovirus, but have increased my time at work, and have made progress on various artisanly projects, in between naps and sleeping. All sorts of small delights continue to speckle my life; yesterday while riding home from the doc, there was an old man sitting on a front porch singing with a guitar, while what looked a lot like his grandson was singing with him... R found a baby jay in the grass behind the henyard, and now I understand why there has been so much jay noise all day long, they are raising a family in the backyard... V brought me a sweet pair of tiny blue trimmed dreamcatcher earrings as a souvenir of her cross country trip... Truly there has been something every day, just this last week I have felt too puny to be online and writing...

Monday, June 25, 2012

run run run

Running stitch is the first stitch that most learn when sewing, it is the handstitching equivalent of tabby in weaving. It has a sturdy simplicity that is very appealing. Our plucky heroine, while trying not to drown in a head cold, is moving forward on the planned summer 6PAC. The current item is #4 the t-shirt (yes, there was a jump right past #2 and #3, their turn will come later) with a decorated neckline. Using the stripey blue-grey cotton knit, and will be trying out some of the Alabama Chanin style techniques. Underlaying the primary fabric with some dark blue, so it will show when the reverse applique is done.

initial sketch, and adapted-to-neckline-shape pattern

Used my TNT t-shirt pattern, a very heavily adapted/altered/regraded version* of KwikSew 3120. All the time it took years ago to adapt a pattern to give me a tee that fits me comfortably without looking sloppy-big was sooooo worth it, this pattern gets used at least several times a year. My experiment this time, in addition to the neckline decoration, is to widen the lower edge of the short sleeves, to make the top a little more breezy for the summertime that will surely be coming our way at some point.

Stitched pieces together, except for underarm seams, so that the fabric will all lay mostly flat. Cut freezer paper to the design, ironed onto the neckline, then traced around the design with sharpie. Next step is to outline all the design with running stitch, then cut away the interior fabric to show the dark blue layer underneath.

*(added princess seams to front to accommodate FBA, reshaped neckline, recontoured side seams to fit my shape, added CB seam for additional fit/contour)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

never mind

From tragedy impending to tragedy narrowly averted... computer problem solved when Rafny* came home... While I was out of town, she had turned the CPU off, from a switch in the back of the box that I did not know was even there!! Whew - grateful that was an easy fix

*temporary housemate

Friday, June 22, 2012

not happy

My home computer is DEAD... will not turn on at all. I am at library to let folks know that I am without online connectivity. Sad-face does not even come close to how I feel about this. Not sure it can be brought back to life

Monday, June 18, 2012

step by step, inch by inch

progress on turtleneck to cardigan conversion: button strips pinned and ready to be hand-stitched down, pockets cut out, edges bound, and stitched in place (well, not in this photo, but this was taken mid-work-flow)...almost finished!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

return of the eagles

Today is Fathers Day, and in honor of said day, it seemed appropriate to share yet more pictures from summer vacation. We were driving home from the beach, and wondered what the birdwatchers by the side of the road were all looking at...

These bald eagles were just across the street.

The mother eagle sits at the top of the tree.

while father eagle is at the nest,
young eaglets stick their heads up to look around.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

I tell folks that when I say something isn't rocket science, I know whereof I speak, for my dad was a rocket scientist, one of the myriad engineers who worked on the space program, back when we had one. I grew up knowing that what he did helped with the Apollo, and Gemini, and later, with the Space Shuttle, and feeling so very proud that his efforts were part of that great enterprise. One of my very early memories, before all the rocketship stuff, is being carried outside, as a tiny child, into the dark street to see the satellite go overhead. Our growing up was a mixture of sky and earth, our family vacations were almost always camping trips. And, in some ways it seems to me, that the children of engineers have some commonality with children of the military, as we seemed to move almost as often. I truly appreciate all that my own father did for all the long years he was working, to care for our own nest, which traveled from place to place as the work did; wherever we ended up, on whatever coast, the love of my family was the ground beneath my feet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

denim dreams

As always, our plucky heroine requires portable handwork available at all times, so progress on the cardigan (item #1 - Summer 6 PAC) continues, as there are many small parts that need attention. So far, the front has been sliced open, the edges serged and then bound in coordinating indigo cotton. While it would be wearable at this stage, it will be far more visually interesting with a few more details.

Family and some friends gift me with random bits of cloth and clothing, and the front edges of a "designer-denim" vest were cut off and saved several years ago; they will be a perfect addition to this cardigan. The actual buttonholes were not at all well stitched, so my current bus handwork is to reinforce all six with two layer stitching, in the same way that hand-stitched tent grommets are made, by stitching every other one deeper into the whole cloth. Since the thread is almost the same color as the denim, and the scale of the stitching is so very small, it will not noticeably look odd, but will greatly increase the likelihood that the buttonholes will not blow out.

The two fastening panels will be hand stitched onto the center front edges next. I hope to find some scraps of the decorative denim, either the alphabet or the floral, hiding in one of the boxes of fabric scraps, to use for patch pockets.

Whilst out and about today, we stopped by the "Garage Sale at Community Warehouse" where my housemate had seen some independent pattern company designs scattered in the bins of patterns. Two for one day meant that (for only $2 total) this travel jacket pattern with "hidden pockets" and this this not horribly-cutesy diagonal patchwork dress pattern both needed to follow me home. Very rarely purchase fitted patterns, due to the necessity for substantial alterations; that jacket has potential for later in the year (the curved banding and shaped peplum add a nice feminine line) and the patchwork dress looks to be another way to use up some of the myriad smaller pieces of fabric that fill up so many boxes here. We shall see... but first, the test of Sisters of Edwardia, and the basic clothing must take precedence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

...can't stop the signal

The world is full of good folks, over and over again finding that to be true in my own life, in ways large and small... our plucky heroine has received a Kindly Contribution, from a benefactor (who shall remain nameless here) that will allow me to purchase two pair of the "Socks of Extreme Squeeziness" which will now and forevermore be my podiatric companions. As with many other aspects of medical foo, not only is any lymphedema treatment not covered by my insurance, but neither are the prescribed compression stockings. While my days of enjoying the delights of Sock Dreams are now only a wistful memory, it will not be necessary to find a location to host a bake sale or two to raise the funding for these uncomfortable but required objects.

Thankful indeed for the assistance, and wishful indeed that we all could get all the care needful to become and remain in as good health as possible. It is hard for me to accept help, hard to know that despite working since age 15 that I could need help from others, but a good lesson to remember that folks want to help, and to accept kindness in the spirit it is offered in. No one can help make me not have had cancer, but kindness and love helps me find ways to live with the collateral damage. However difficult the path, my friends and family hold a different kind of healing in their hands and hearts, they cannot walk my path for me, but walking alongside, it is less lonesome. The necklace of lovingkindness let them come with me in hospital, the notes and ephemera stuck to the walls here and there in Acorn Cottage remind me of dear ones far away. I will survive, I will not let this stop me from doing as much as I can in the time that I am here. There are adventures to explore, and art to be made, and creative life to be lived! ...can't stop the signal

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday tidbits

It is a very Portland-ish sort of morning, thought our plucky heroine as she pedaled enthusiastically down the street to the grocery store, through a grey and misty damp June morning...  My dear friend Mindy has been trying to get some tomatillo starts down to Acorn Cottage from OlyWa for weeks now, and finally through the good graces of her parents, the plant babies are safely here. There just might be some homegrown salsa verde this year. Three tomatillo babies survived the transit (via her parents) from Oly to Vancouver, and from Vancouver to New Seasons, (where we met in the parking lot for the transfer) and from there to my house, in the bike basket...
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

There have been a number of pretty things to see while walkabout in the last few days

a sign with good advice, if lousy penmanship...

a glowing rose heart

a red door with some lovely paintwork for the house number*

common mallow, Malva sylvestris
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

There is ongoing medical foo, but am doing my best not to let it get me downhearted. Truly, if one persists in telling self stories about "how I shall not let this stop me", eventually it will become truth, at least on the level of intention and belief. Our plucky heroine is a lot more cheerful person now than when in my youth, though my circumstances are far less filled with resources and physical strength. As the story goes, with this much s*%t around, there must be a pony somewhere nearby... Am still baffled as to what possible learning is a gift to go along with all this, but one small thing came to mind when I posted on Stitchers Guild today... I wrote: "if all my medical foo has taught me anything, it is to use it while you have it - saving my special fabrics for some mythical special project, or for when I maybe someday manage to lose 50 pounds, is not how I will actually enjoy them. If the fabric becomes clothing, I can enjoy it every day!"  There are layers and layers of learning to live in the now, though that has been my path for long years, there is always further to go.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

* not my house number, but it is always a treat to see someplace where folks chose to use handicraft rather than what is mass produced... Hmmmm, maybe Acorn Cottage needs some homemade house numbers...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

make do and mend

Since our plucky heroine has more time than ready dosh these days, it seems to be is sensible to refurbish what clothing needs only some time and attention to be made wearable. This popover dress was sent back to the land of fabric scraps, since it needed both some additional length, and work to make the neck edges sturdy again. It had originally been made in a hurry, to wear when the weather was beastly hot. If it gets in the 90 and above zone this summer, will be good to have more than one lightweight frock.
A fortuitous other bit of scrap seemed to be an appropriate way to reinforce the neck edge, small strips of leftover cotton in a lively modern leaf print make a narrow binding, as well as a small center embellishment, and hand stitching is transit-time craft. Once the neck edge is repaired, there is a beloved partially-threadbare linen Bluefish tunic that will make a suitable hem extension. The lower edge of the linen tunic is nowhere near as worn as the bodice, just worn enough to be soft and lightweight, and is the same pale celery green as some of the rayon print fabrics. An extension of about two inches will be just enough to make me much happier, and surely there is some suitable fabric hiding in one of the scrap boxes to bind the edge...
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

In the interest of both replacing badly worn out current clothing, and in using some of my vast assortment of stashed fabrics, I have been planning future sewing projects. The most immediate one will be the trial muslin of the "Sisters of Edwardia" blouse, for Steph in Australia, in the size that matches my measurements, which is to say, rather rotund! Since it was not possible to participate in SWAP 2012 due to horrible medical foo, I shall also be working on a summer 6 PAC. The plan suggests these six garments:
1. jacket/cardigan/raincoat etc your best medium or light neutral colour
2. bottom (trousers/skirt/shorts/skort/whatever) in the same colour
3. t-shirt or blouse in the same colour
4. t-shirt or blouse (underlayer top) in a second neutral -- again, lighter for summer would be my advice
5. bottom in the same colour
6. a dress in a LINKING print (ie contains the neutrals together, ideally plus colour)

which will be interpreted in my best Acorn Cottage style to be:
1. indigo cotton cable knit cardigan (refashion)
2. blue rayon loose trousers
3. blue rayon popover tunic
4. blue stripey t-shirt
5. dark denim jumper
6. indigo batik rayon popover dress
While this is not perzactly the suggested plan, the fabrics are all ones that are currently waiting to be used, and all will coordinate with the clothing that is already in my closet. The loose trousers will be the only non-TNT pattern in this combo, and I am eager to make the attempt. Rather than have #5 be the same color value as #4, I am opting for a darker jumper, simply because I already have a denim jumper in that medium blue.

The indigo cardigan was a lucky score a number of years ago, actually in the form of a midweight turtleneck sweater. My intention is to slice it down the center front, bind the edges, and attach strips removed from the center front of a denim vest, (that already have buttonholes and metal tack-buttons) to create a closure. Might also add patch pockets to the front corners, not sure about that... My intention is a somewhat fun and funky refashion that will get a lot of use, there is a serious lack of third layers in my wardrobe.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

If these all get completed before the end of July, and there is no real reason why not, since most are only the work of a few days, then I get to play with some other fun options... There is another length of denim, in a medium blue that would work for woods-walking trousers, there are two pieces of true shibori indigo cotton, which would make interesting tunic tops to wear under jumpers or over trousers, and there is a dress length of cotton lawn, in one of the prettiest prints I have seen in years. The printed lawn (Trios by Alexander Henry) is almost as delightfully pleasant to the touch as Liberty Tana Lawn; in fact I liked it so much that I've actually another piece of it in the black colorway!...


Oh is my face red! An apology for my extremely foolish lack of looking at the calendar - did not realise that Father's Day is a whole week away. Have swept that post away for the time being, and shall return anon, with something entirely different...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

country barns

Yet more summer vacation: to wander around and through the memory of what was once of use...

we walked across a bridge of planks...
(sky and water make a dance of reflections) look around beyond the farmhouse.

There were barns to the right of us...

and barns to the left, as well as a number of outbuildings.
I walked between the small red building and the big brown barn...

... and saw these windows all in a row...

...turned around to see the light
on the grass and the fields beyond...

...inside the small red building, there are the remnants of long-ago chores,
and reflected in the window, the recreation of a sunny summer day.

The big brown barn was built almost ninety years ago.

Look inside, through a hole in the door,
and see all the interior architecture like a rural cathedral.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Are you tired of "what I did on my summer vacation"? I'm not, but here, as a diversion, is a project that has been my carry along bit of handwork for the last two weeks...

Gryphon won this hand-felted pouch in a bardic competition, and gifted it to me. It is just the right size to hold my epi-pen, so I decided to change the Celtic embroidery originally on the flap for a design that would make it clear that the contents are for medical use. The next step is to sew a lining, and to add two small antler-tip toggles...

The red cross is to signify first aid supplies, as this will be used to carry my epi-pen, inhaler, and various other small medical bits at SCA events. Stitches used are mostly chain, some buttonhole edging, and a wee bit of bayeaux tapestry filling for the acorn caps.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Junefaire fragments (more summer vacation)

On Saturday, Gryphon and I spent the day at an SCA demo (Junefaire, in Port Gamble) to visit with friends, and to participate in Arion's elevation to the Order of the Laurel.*  It had been many five years since our plucky heroine last attended Junefaire, (actually for Gryphon's elevation in 2006) and the event has become a superb example of a public demo - I was mightily impressed! After coming through the gate, you passed the fighting field on the left side, and a long pathway led through many small booths of artisans and craftspeople demonstrating various arts of daily life. There was far more to see than I managed to take pictures of, everything from cooking and textile arts, pottery, woodworking, dyeing, and my good friends the moneyers were striking coins. There was a chandler dipping candles and a blacksmith at his forge... it was glorious!

Countess Elizabeth working the fresh butter

Hrafnir using bellows to encourage the charcoal fire.
He is cooking flatbread and a pottage of oat groats, barley and peas

An assortment of treen: wooden trenchers and utensils, all hand carved

This enormous copper cauldron is used for dyeing textiles

Master Ralg working with the treadle lathe, turning wood

This is a butter churn, and the cream has almost turned to butter

Once the butter is separated, it gets removed from the churn, 
and all the milky bits washed out of it with cold water.
The actual buttermilk left in the churn is completely different than store buttermilk.
It is like thin, almost watery very sweet milk, with little bits of butter in it. Incredibly tasty

Medieval cheese cakes. Baked on site, from homemade butter and fresh cheese, homegrown eggs
(and other ingredients of course). I can testify that the results were delicious.

Arion the Wanderer being elevated to the Order of the Laurel -
for excellence in the arts of archery, metalwork/moneyer, and various other skills.
The King places the laurel wreath on his head, and then he swears the Laurel oath of fealty as a Peer of the Realm

~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

*For gentle readers unfamiliar with our slightly eccentric hobby, the SCA is an worldwide historical recreation group, focused primarily on the Middle Ages and Renaissance. While most of our events are, in essence, private parties, as the organisation is a non-profit group, we also do a lot of educational activities, such as demo events open to the public, and demo events in schools. The Order of the Laurel is an very high honor given to individuals for excellence in artisanry,  for creating art and in sharing the research and skills with others, and for behavior that exemplifies the noble virtues; the award is recognised throughout the SCA. Our plucky heroine, and her stalwart pal Gryphon are also members of the Order, myself for enameling and metalwork, and himself for archery and artifacts.