Tuesday, October 30, 2012

orchids and lilies and roses oh my...

in which the universe gives me flowers and Dr Rockstar gives me a clean bill of health for the next three months. Our plucky heroine is a happy girl!

Lookit what I found whilst walking home from the bus stop... On the sidewalk near the Goodwill drop-off, someone left this lovely bouquet of fresh flowers, in a huge glass vase. When I asked the attendant, he told me that since they were REAL flowers, Goodwill didn't want it, so she just left it there... I guess it was my lucky day, in more than one respect. Our plucky heroine adores having cut flowers in the house, they are one of life's little luxuries that mostly go away when times get austere, so this was like a message from the universe to be of good cheer.

The last week has been really difficult, as I had received a phone call that my pap test was abnormal, and I would need to go back to the oncology center for more extensive testing. My cancer history and treatment have in some ways increased my risk of future problems. Fortunately the testing today was not as painful as feared, and the results were that there were no apparent microscopic cellular oddities waiting to cause trouble. What a relief!

There was an evening a few nights ago, when I happened to look out over the north side of the backyard. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but this sign from that past that some folks do revere...

Peace in the neighborhood!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

a special Saturday

... 'twas a wonderful treat to go to Honor Feast this Saturday, as the person being honored was my pal Khalja.

The overall theme was "central Asian", and there many folks who either like me had made new clothing, or adapted their everyday garb to something suitable. Somehow in all the convolution our plucky heroine didn't take any pictures of the actual feast, but suffice it to say that the kitchen gods and goddesses kept bringing out platters of food to nibble on all the long day, starting just after the site opened, and ending with varied roast meats and side dishes at dinner time. Mmmm, roast lamb and spanikoptia...

The event took place at the county fairgrounds out in St Helens, in a big round hall that was transformed into a suitable setting for all sorts of revelry. The sounds of the harp and various other instruments drifted through the conversations, as folks met and wandered about greeting friends, and looking at the various artistic endeavors (was also the local A&S championship) 

My friend Ursul was there, and I saw for the first time the textile printing that she has been working on. She has been doing research on medieval block printing, and has hand carved wooden block and created her own textile inks from raw materials. The resulting product is quite impressive!

Later that afternoon, the guest of honor took on an apprentice:
whilst surrounded by friends and various affiliated folks...

It was an excellent event, with only a modicum of necessary court business (the triparate scroll presented to K was one of the most splendid bits of scribal art I have ever seen) and plenty of time for socialising and working on projects. I even had a few inquiries about enameled regalia, and was hopefully able to put to rest the rumor that I am no longer available to do that work, which in fact I am actively seeking new commissions. There were so many people there that I had not seen recently, it was good to reconnect with old friends from further away. May there be many more events in the near future...

Friday, October 26, 2012

sewing, sauerkraut and son-of-a-bitch

There has been a mortal lot of sewing going on here, when first our plucky heroine decided that part of how to show her appreciation of her pal K (guest of honor at Honor Feast) was to make clothing in the steppe nomad style to wear to said event.

This entailed making a pair of pants, which this gal not only almost never sews, but almost never wears. Was an opportunity to try out a pattern that has been in the "gosh this looks interesting" pile for a number of years now. I like how it fits, and without the nomadic modifications, would work well for a wintertime underlayer instead of a petticoat.

The underdress was not that different than my regular Norse clothing, but the top layer, the "coat" was quite the project... Since there was no suitable fabric in my stash, it seemed like a good idea to stencil the fabric I had to make it look more "nomadic". Hours and hours later the fabric was ready to be stitched up (I cut out all the pieces beforehand, to keep from stenciling any unnecessary yardage) The coat was fairly straightforward to sew, and once I figured out how to create loops for the row of buttons down the front, it was complete. Very different from anything else I have made for SCA clothing, but now I have something to wear with the Armenian headdress that I made years ago.

Do our tastes change as we age? I have always hated sauerkraut, despite the fact that it is hella healthy. Today at New Seasons demo booth, they were handing out samples of this local fresh sauerkraut topped with bratwurst; the kraut made without added vinegar, and it was really tasty! Vinegared things have never been a favorite of mine, but I actually considered either buying some of this to keep in the fridge and nibble on, or actually making my own, as so many of my friends do...

Not quite ready for prime time, but I am undergoing diagnostics for additional cellular level wierdness (aka bad pap). Not happy about this, and hoping that it proves to be a non-issue. I should know more in the next week or so. Can the med-foo just slow down a bit, eh? Girl was just starting to get her feet under herself after all the foo and heartbreak in the last year. So, for now, dog is once again on close watch, eyes and ears alert for danger...

Monday, October 22, 2012

monday musings

Well Sunday was a ton of fun! Despite the incredibly onerous having to get up at 5AM (so not the thing for this nightsider gal), going up to Glymm Mere A&S to judge all day was great. Was wonderful road-tripping with the delightful Khalja, and the event was one of those just the right size ones, with plenty of chances to connect with various old friends, and an impressive variety of entries in the competition. I was particularly taken with the illuminated calligraphy on calfskin parchment, by this lovely artisan, who was eager to share her knowledge about this art form and the materials used. The intricate tiny painted decorations were quite impressive.
the rabbit riding a dog was under an inch long actual size

The metalwork entry that I was going to judge was cancelled due to illness, and I also judged this pair of collars for small pet dogs, which was an uncommon choice for objects to re-create. I thought she did a competent job for her skill level, and we as judges were able to recommended a few possible sources where she could look for more information on leather-working techniques, and archaeological artifacts.

As out of branch Laurels, we also helped judge the finalists, which was difficult only in that both of the two top entries were kingdom level quality. A short side trip to Shipwreck Beads before heading home did not hurt anyone's feelings, and much great conversation made the trip home again go far too quickly... It really feels good to get back to my SCA life

There have been a few inquiries lately about enameled regalia and jewelry, which has me feeling rather encouraged. If the universe sends me options for actually making artwork for people, I shall certainly follow that pathway, since that is something I have some skill with, and enjoy the process. Have been thinking about also starting up Open Studio nights again, probably on Thursday nights. If there is interest, folks that have taken my classes can come and work in the shop one night a week for a far lower cost than taking a workshop, and if no one shows up, I will still be working again, which feels really good even to contemplate. Maybe even an enamel workshop before the winter holidays...

and just for a bit of Monday cheer:

Great Big Sea and The Chieftans do "Lukey"

and for Patricia over at Butter Yum, who asked... My recipe for a small pound cake is actually posted on my blog here: "in which cakelets are baked". I originally found a recipe on the blog twelve22, which I modified into the lemon poppyseed recipe because I am not fond of chocolate. That recipe is no longer on her blog, or are any of her posts from that era. I am often happy to bake a small cake for when friends come over, and this recipe fits into a small decorative 6" jello mold, to create a cake with a decorative top, and as mentioned, one mixup of this one is also just the right size to fill the acorn cakelet mold one time. 'Tis a baby-bear's recipe, not too big, not too small, but just right.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

not quite crazy

When our plucky heroine got a wild hair to stencil-print fabric, it was not clear whether or not this was a totally insane concept.
I started the project about three weeks ago, and cut a two part stencil, as the design I wanted to use was two colors, gold overlaid with green, on a red background. You might notice that this is a lot more gaudy than most of what gets sewn around here; the fabric will become the outermost layer of some steppe nomad style clothing, intended for new SCA clothes (and incidentally will work well for answering the door to the Halloween kiddies)

The stencil printing took about two weeks of incidental worktime in the evenings, last night the final pieces were in process... learned something: paint consistency makes a big difference. The metallic textile paint dried a lot faster than the ordinary pigments, and the partial jar on hand was noticeably thicker than the green paint. When I ran out and used a new jar of gold, the thinner paint was so much EASIER to work with. Kids, learn from your elders errors, make sure your paint is more like crepe batter than pancake batter...

So far am fairly pleased with the outcome. The reasoning to do this was always to use what I have on hand; the only out of pocket cost was for the new jar of Lumiere (textile paint). It definitely gives an appreciation of how much more effort it is to create patterned textiles, which were far more valuable in historic times than solid color dyed textiles, which in turn were more valuable than undyed cloth...
Today for my Frosting Fortnight: this red tunic top. I pretty much never wear this, since it is, well, RED!  Made from lovely sturdy Guatemalan ikat, which is old enough to be really well and tightly woven. The color on the other hand, does nothing for me. I made this over twenty years ago to wear to OCF. I have no idea how this could be re-made into something more my style, but simply cannot give it away, since I adore the fabric. After a bit of thought, I am wondering if it would be somehow possible to turn this into an apron? I would use it as a kitchen apron almost every day, and my kitchen, unlike my wardrobe, has red as an accent color... hmmmm...

Really, after looking through my closet and dresser drawers, there is not a lot of frosting in my wardrobe, self-made or otherwise. I guess this means that a. I tend to be pretty utilitarian with my sewing projects and b. I tend to sew things that I really wear often.

I am not including my SCA wardrobe in this fortnight, since I could definitely wear something every day from the historical clothing section of my wardrobe. To most folks those would be costumes rather than clothing, though they are based on my research about what our ancestors wore for daily life (my SCA clothes are not the "fancy kings and queens at court" kind of thing, but rather the kind of clothing that Norse women in the viking age wore, even in my re-creation I tend towards the practical rather than the bejewelled).

My one Elizabethan age set of clothing: not court clothes but more like what a middle-class woman of substance would wear) Most of my historic clothing is full length, and would be rather soggy in the autumnal rainy weather we have been having here lately, not to mention somewhat conspicuous while riding around on public transit!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

stitchery snippets

Our plucky heroine has decided to play along with Frosting Fortnight, just for fun, though I am pretty sure that there is not a lot of "frosting" in my wardrobe

Today's frosting item is a lace top, made years ago and only ever worn twice before, when some of my artwork was in the Erotic Art Festival in Seattle, and I needed something a bit more edgy than my usual urban fairytale style... It sort of does work with this outfit, but I usually wear natural fibers, and this is nylon lace, soft-ish nylon, but it still feels like plastic. The plastic-ness is a bit mitigated by the openwork of the lace fabric, and it takes up very little space in the dresser drawer, so it shall probably not end up being thrifted away, but neither will it see common use.

sewing progress report:
Printing your own fabric is a big pain, the stenciling is taking a long time to do since I can only do an hour or two before my hands get tired. The initial idea was to use fabric and supplies that are already in stash, since shopping is one of this gal's least favorite thing to do, even fabric shopping (which is only fun if it involves finding new random treats rather than searching for something very specific that may not exist) This fabric being printed is for an over-jacket that is part of a three garment set of new SCA clothes for Honor Feast, which will also do for my Halloween costume for answering the door for trick-or-treaters, and the pants and underdress will be good midweight loungewear for around the house and serve as part of my Make Do and Mend 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

...on the bottoms of our feet

Path is written on the bottoms of our feet. We cannot get lost, though sometimes it feels like we are. This I believe, even when I forget that I believe it, even when what looks like the path breaks up into unmanageable chunks...

Right now I am in the middle of a forgetting time, in the middle of what looks and feels like the aftermath of an avalanche both of body and spirit. Maybe that is why my own feet are so troubled, in a physical way, as a reflection. Who knows? On reading back in my writing of two years ago and forward, there was a sense of change on the wind, despite the benign reality of my daily life then. Is the fire of cancer and loss the change that was waiting, or is there yet more... Who knows?

Our plucky heroine will continue to survive, until her path takes a turning out of the bright world. When will that be... Who knows? But until then, I shall do what I can to be of good cheer, to live in a way that adds beauty and kindness to the world, and to share what knowledge I have gathered freely with those around me. Will that be enough... Who knows?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Larson-esque (not Gary)

This is rather amazing! Actual period film of the artist Carl Larson and his family and home - I saw this on Terry Windlings blog and just had to share... I am certain that I am not the only one of my circle that has great admiration for this artist and his wife and the lifestyle that they created at the turn of the last century. I never thought to actually see them on film though!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday snippets

Our plucky heroine must have been tired, lay down for a bit of a rest at around 4-ish, and woke up again after nine...

This weekend was another visit from my northern pals B & K, who are almost finished with the fixup and cleanout of the apartment building. They often stop at The Bins (not far from where they are working), and sometimes share the by-the-pound bounty, when they find things that will be a treat for our plucky heroine: some varied textile bits (textured silk shirts and an interlock cotton dress all in black) are being washed, and an indigo patterned scarf...

Apparently the beautiful large indigo and white folk art cotton scarf is from the Czech Republic (according to online translation) and the international fabric care symbols say ought be handwashed. For indigo I will make the effort, our plucky heroine has a thing for indigo. (more about indigo Slovak textiles here)

They brought me a large oak/plywood bookcase from the building they are working on, which is destined to replace the random assortment of bookcases along the library wall.

The bookcase wall formerly had: a Boeing bookcase (moved to fabric storage land) some pressboard bookcases (gone back to Goodwill, I loathe pressboard) some milk crates (gone to workroom) and two small bookcases from my childhood (moved to other end of new bookshelf)... Hence the current state of the Acorn Cottage living room, massive piles of books-n-stuff...

...so part of today involved starting to replace the books on the library wall... Books will be reorganised and put back on new shelf, and other books can now come out of boxes to join them... There is even room for my collection of Threads magazines, which will free up most of a shelf in the sewing room for current fabric/sewing projects instead, yay!

Well, I missed writing about World Egg Day last week, but since the hens are all moulting and therefore no eggs at all here at Acorn Cottage, perhaps it is not such a great loss...

Whilst heading downtown, as I approached the bus stop where the bluff drops away from Willamette Blvd, there, a big hawk launched off one of the trees, and since the treetop was actually a bit below street level, I got a unique view from above the raptor!  Alas, it all happend so quickly that there was no chance for a photo, but the air currents were such that it appeared to be sort of rocking in midair for a moment, so graceful, and seemed almost close enough to touch...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mt Leafmore

in which our plucky heroine continues to push forward against entropy...

Not giant molehills, but some of the front yard foliage raked into piles. Hopefully there will be time and energy tomorrow, to gather in some of this, 'twill make good chicken bedding, and compost fodder. I plumb refuse to let this unrelenting pain stop me from having some kind of life, until it becomes impossible. The late afternoon sunshine will not last forever, and in truth is destined to end later this week.
Last autumn the leaves did not get raked at all, 'till after the rain started, they are much much heavier when wet, not to mention the unpleasantness of raking in the rain. Slightly frustrated that the ornamental plum trees have not gotten the message, and there are still rather a lot of leaves still well attached to the branches. I also need to somehow deal with the gutters, am a bit concerned about ladderclimbing with my limbs not entirely 100%, but the gutters didn't get done last year either, and who knows what may be lurking... ah well, sufficient to each day is the effort therof, and between attempting to continue working, and a multiplicity of med-fu, there is some effort, however small, made every day in recovering the sweet home buried under a year of neglect.

the weather and other musings

...in which our plucky heroine cogitates on interior meteorology...

Not sure how I missed hearing this song before now, but it seems like the right one these days. I feel in my ownself a slow turning, but whether away from or towards is yet unclear, but know that the turning is needful. Despite the exterior pain, the interior continues to heal, and is proper for healing to proceed from the inside out.

Is grateful that I am for the generosity of friends, always, and in particular today, my friend Emily lent me a bunch of painting tools, brushes and roller and suchlike, so my goal of getting the bathroom painted is much more possible...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

star stamp

Last week at project night, I cut a two part stencil, this is the first layer, and will be printed in metallic gold on the red rayon twill. The intention is to print fabric suitable for new SCA clothing.

After some research, discovered that creating a very slightly resilient substrate improves results. There was a big piece of foamcore behind the guest bed, big enough to fit atop the freezer, I cut off the overhanging edge...

A large piece of ecofelt folded in half covers the foamcore; since I prefer wool felt for handicraft, this will make a good padded surface

the initial sample printing setup: stencil locations marked in chalk, Lumiere paint, china saucer to use as a palette, stencil brush, and some papertowel to keep the paint from building up on the brush

First layer of painted stencils almost finished, this layer took a half hour to stencil, which means that the whole amount of fabric needed will take about five hours or more for one layer. I intend to also time the second layer, to get a good time estimate. The work will not happen all in one go, or my poor arm will fall off...

Looks very different with the inner star stencil added. The green fabric paint is much more fluid than the metallic paint (which looks yellow in this photo), and is much faster to stencil, even accounting for the smaller size... The white lines are chalk which can be brushed off or washed out, once the paint dries; it has to cure for 24 hours, then be ironed to heat set for durability.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

unearned grace

...in which our plucky heroine shifts focus from grumble to grateful...]

My kindly houseguests cleared a path through the backyard weedfilled jungle to the feral plum tree, and picked up all the undamaged windfalls, and most of the fruit still on the tree. All I need to do is put the plums in the freezer, and toss the damaged windfalls for the chickens. Happy girl will have plums this winter!

The feral plum tree has given Acorn Cottage somewhere around 12 to 14 lbs of tasty Italian prune plums. I neither planted or take care of this tree, which is wedged between the shed and the back fence, but the plums are sweet and unblemished. Girl is filled with gratitude for this unearned bounty.

Another nice thing about prune plums is how very easy they are to process for freezing, all that is needful is to cut in half and pop out the pit; easiest fruit save blueberries...

Have almost finished the nomad trousers, (a variation on Vogue 8499) all that is left to do is the handwork of stitching a bit of ribbon over the join between the loose trousers and snug embroidered cuffs. The pattern as drafted fits me fairly well; I did shift the two side leg darts up, so that they bracketed my actual knees, since the capri length pattern fits me like full length pants. The only other alteration I did was to reshape the crotch curve to eliminate the wedgie backside, which entailed simply scooping the seamline about 1cm. Seriously, the target demographic must have no bottoms!

I might actually make these again at some point, the integral pockets are great, and the fit is pretty comfortable. This pattern definitely requires a drapey fabric though, I used a rayon (ottoman?) with a tiny woven-in rib, in a bright periwinkle blue. Why ever did such a color end up in my fabric stash will remain forever a mystery?!?, but for a wearable muslin/SCA underlayer/lounge-wear pair of funky trousers, it will be just fine. Once finished this will be another item for Make and Mend 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

wishful Wednesday

in which our plucky heroine has a clever idea...

Y'know how I was wondering how on earth I could get the amount of sewing done that is hoped for this month... since sleep was hard to find, there was a lot of laying in bed and cogitating... and no, am not imagining sewing instead of sleeping, that way lies madness and all sorts of stupid operator error, trust me on this one, but rather that the underdress and "nomad" trousers are a lot like pyjamas, and would serve for the "make two garments that are not daywear" category in Make & Mend. (insert small picture of plucky heroine clapping her tiny hands with glee)

In addition, I also realised that I can use the Marcy Tilton pattern that I have been meaning to try out for ages as the base pattern for the pants, thereby using the periwinkle blue rayon as a muslin to see if I like how that pattern fits. This way the lower half of the pants will look suitable nomadic, once I add the embroidered lower leg portion, and the upper part that does not show when worn with the SCA clothing will actually be more comfortable than my original idea of drawstring pants.

Ever Ongoing list of wishful:
  • bicycle kickstand
  • Excalibur food dehydrator
  • rooms painted
  • bicycles tuned up
  • pot-rack up in kitchen
  • random debris taken to dump
  • backyard tamed (mowed and flattened)
  • raised beds created (need more garden soil+compost+bed materials)
  • insulation in house walls
  • massage at least once a month
  • diagnosis (and treatment) for unrelenting foot and leg pain
  • enough alternative employment that is not housecleaning, but pays at least as much
There are many wishes residing here, but the thought occurs that putting them in writing where they can be visible, rather than rambling round inside the brainbox, is a kind of first step towards actually achieving some of this... with that in mind, the "rooms painted" is something that is actually fairly easy to begin. In my copious free time ha ha. But should there be a free few hours, a good start could happen, before the weather turns too cold. I have the paint, and am strong enough now that the work would not be overwhelming. All I need now is a cut-in brush...

ever more distant

in which our plucky heroine looks in the rear view mirror, as the country where I once was at home grows ever more distant...

I know that tonight was painful, but mostly I feel numb. (the pain I do feel is in my legs and feet, which are gradually worsening from week to week) I know that the pain in my heart is worse, but I have shut it off from perception... Today G came down to pick up the sewing that I had done for him, and pay me for the work. He did not come alone, but brought H with him... I am still his friend, and know that he does not love me any more, but having her come here with him felt a lot like rubbing my nose in it. I wish that he would not do that, I am polite and courteous, do my best to talk to them both, but it feels so odd. She does not talk to me, but watches him.

He was so excited about his truck finally being rebuilt and back from the mechanic, that he wanted to take me for a short drive down the highway, and foolish me said okay. I said " I feel like I should stick my head out the window and pant..." when in truth it was sooo hard not to burst into tears, but oldgirl is tough.

A very short visit, he is happy with the work, but then that is what I do best, to turn the ideas that folks have into made objects. The work that I do, the beauty I create, that is what he values. I take some small comfort from knowing that the reflective clothing that keeps him safe at work, the wool jacket that keeps him warm when the cold wind blows off the bay, the heraldic enamel set in the new gearshift knob, and the ink designs on his arms, all these things will stay with him, though I am not allowed to...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday musings

There are two more garments to complete the Autumn 6PAC... will our plucky heroine meet that goal, or will the other additional planned sewing fill up all the allocated stitchy-time... let's see... besides another pinafore and a pair of overalls for the 6PAC, the list for this month has an entire new set of SCA clothing (steppe nomad trousers, underdress and overcoat; the overcoat will have hand stencilled printed designs), also three additional Make & Mend items (rework one garment + make two non-daywear garments) Hmmm wonder if the M & M could be combined with the SCA, after all there is not much difference between an underdress and a nightgown, which would give me one of the three) And, of course, there is daily work, and household chores, which take up so much time when I could be sewing! Well, by the time winter finds us, at least there will be sturdy warm clothing to keep the chill at bay

revised Autumn 6PAC
dk neutral overlayer -
dk neutral bottom -
dk neutral top -
alt neutral overlayer -
alt neutral top -
color link top -
- brown twill pinafore
- brown twill overalls
- brown t-shirt
- black pinafore
- black t-shirt
- blue/black/brown t-shirt