Monday, December 31, 2012

of good resolve

"We are given our lives, our fear,
our broken bones, and broken hearts.
Breaks create openings that were not there before,
and in that space grow the seed of new creation
    ~ Rebecca Wells

"Inspiration is for amateurs,
the rest of us just show up and get to work..
    ~ Chuck Close

Words to live by... These two will be my resolution for 2013

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Our plucky heroine has has a busy weekend in the workroom...

You wouldn't think that bending tiny soft wires that are mostly under a cm long would be exhausting, and take hours... sometimes I feel like wirebending is like the layout and cutting part of sewing, it takes FOREVER and is pretty stressful to get just right, but once that part is complete, the rest of the process, thought time consuming, is (hopefully) straightforward...

well begun and more than halfway done... which is a good thing 'cos I am really tired! This shows some of the black background enamel before the third background firing. At this point I have lost count of how many times this has been in the kiln. It will need at least another five or six firings before it gets ground smooth and flash fired...

By after midnight was getting to the end of my second wind, only two more firings left to do (fingers crosssed). I really want to finish this tonight... Fire arts are playing with fire, even if it is the "tame" kind that comes out of a wall socket... and finally, by around a quarter to 2 in the wee small hours, it was finished, and our plucky heroine turned off the kiln and went to go be horizontal for a while...

Always need to have at least one other thing in the works whilst enameling is happening, as once the kiln is hot there is no reason not to use it, and there is as much more "waiting for the enamel to be dry enough to fire" time as there is active prep and firing time.

This time I decided to try an experiment and came up with this tiny enamel cabachon with the glyph for a dressmaker form; Limoges painted enamel, on a backing of silver enameled in a warm grey. I am considering building a setting for it and maybe putting it in my long dormant Etsy shop or find a buyer for it, as it is the jewelry equivalent of a "muslin" for the finished more complex piece. I am still working on the design of a sewing related charm necklace, and this will be one of the many techniques used...

Just found this video ; click to open, well worth watching for the clip at the beginning, which shows the dance of enamel being made in factory...  I have never seen this aspect of the process before. Oh my how I do love the enamels that Soyer makes in France; such wonderful colors! I recently ordered a new "blue-black" shade that is exactly what it sounds like, a deep indigo that reads like black. (wish I could afford to buy myriads of their enamels, which I order from their US distributor Bovano of Cheshire)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday fragments

Don't ever go and shop at Woodcrafters, I shall certainly not go there again! Why, you may ask.... because they have a most snarky attitude towards legitmate customers, which I am not willing to pay money to be subjected to. I was in there shortly before Christmas, and saw that they had nice 1/4 panel cuts of baltic birch plywood in various thicknesses, which would be perfect for the mending around the bathroom vent fan project. Since I'd not measured the needful dimensions at the time, I planned on coming back later to pick up a piece. I asked (at that time) at the front information desk if they could cut the piece down in house and what the charge for that would be. I was told "oh yes, no problem, and only a few bucks..."

When there, I picked out a piece of the 1/4" plywood, paid for it, and then asked if they could make two cuts in it for me. The clerk said sure, what do you want, and our minimum shop fee is $15!!! I looked at him in shock and said, "gosh, most places charge a dollar or two per cut, and I was told only a few dollars when I was in here a week or two ago..." With a very nasty tone of voice he told me that "we're not Home Depot"... I was quite startled at his venom to a customer, told him that in fact, I do not normally shop at Home Depot, and left with my paid for but uncut sheet goods. I will make sure to pass this story along, in the same way that I share the tales of places with wonderful kindly customer service.

I have wonderful generous friends, as anyone that reads along here will surely see... Last night K, her husband O, and I went to go visit my pal E, after a quick stop at Barbur World Foods for some delicious Lebanese take-our food for supper. The plan was to hang out being encouraging whilst E worked on her 12th Night clothing... (I realise that not everyone is as sewing-mad as I am, some folks find it a chore rather than an activity-of-choice), It was a really fun way for me to spend the evening being social and helpful. E also sent me home with her older countertop automatic hot water kettle, having read my saga about melting down my former stovetop kettle. Now all that is needed is to clear a spot on the miniscule countertops here at Acorn Cottage. Also, when my sad tale about Woodcrafters and their price-gouging cut fee was told, O offered to do all the needful cuts in his home shop for me (happyface) so early in the new year I can check another project off my fix the bathroom punch list...

It has been an interesting week in several ways... one is that I've had the loan of a Subaru Forrester all week, and have taken advantage of the opportunity to refresh my everyday driving skills. The biggest difference that having a car makes is how much less important it makes it seem what the outside world is like. Without a car, our plucky heroine needs to pay careful attention to not only what the weather is doing "now" but also be prepared for however long the journey away from home will likely take. Walking around means being out in the weather, also means seeing the surrounding environs in much greater detail than is possible or safe while behind the wheel. BIg shift of focus. Of course, available auto transportation means that it is much less necessary to plan ahead for tasks or errands, and also it is a lot easier to drift into the spend money and shop mode, because you can. (not that I did suchlike, but did take advantage of easy vehicular transport to restock the pantry shelves a bit, which was planned spending)

Also had two acupuncture treatment sessions this week, which seems to be encouraging some improvement in my ability to stand and walk. I will gladly take that, and am hopeful for further transformation, being able to walkabout and maybe even dance will do wonders for my well-being. Indeed as body, mind, and spirit are interconected, it has been a great weight off my mind to finally also start to move beyond heartbreak, which has long become a tiresome place to live. I suspect that those tiny needles in whatever meridians R has been adjusting have also drained off some of the "stuck in sadness" that has been my unwelcome companion for all these months. Somehow, the time that G and I had together has begun to fade into a story that happened long ago to someone else, instead of the only thing I can see or feel. I will always miss waking each day with that spark of brightness in my heart, but the pain of loss has finally started to ease. Life alone might not be radiant, but now it is back to equanimity...
Song for today:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

14thC tiny tidbit

Another project begun earlier this month was this brooch, a holiday gift commission inspired by the jewelry of the 14thC.

Here is some of what it took to get from my initial sketch to the completed piece:

There were quite a few challenges along the way, starting with getting the An Tir checky background just right; remember that the backing metal on these enamels is only about 3/4" across or less. Enamel is very finely ground glass, like beach sand, but smaller.) Fortunately, our plucky heroine has been playing with glass and fire for a number of years now, and while it is never as intuitive a process as stitchery is for me, time has seen improvement in my skill set... (Hmmm, speaking of practice, am thinking it may be time to start up again with teaching my various enameling workshops again after the turn of the year...)

Three layers each of white and gold, carefully hand-packed, (six firings) plus two layers of counter enamel (two more firings), and the checky base is ready for the limoges painted enamel details.

That sorted out, the heraldic designs (Goutte de Sang and Jambe de Lion) that are the insignia of particular awards in the SCA Kingdom of An Tir, were painted on with limoges enamel (finer than beach sand, more like talcum powder) mixed with lavender oil, fired at 1500F, and that process repeated several times to refine the images and add details. I always love to see the working sketches that I make begin to translate into material objects. Now that the enameling for these pieces is completed, the next step will be to fabricate the settings that will protect the enamel and allow them to be worn as jewelry.

(click picture for closer view)

A close view of very small bezel being sawed to shape, before the finish work of smoothing and polishing, and setting the enamel. (interior is about 1/2" x 3/4")

Bit by bit, all these pieces will be completed and assembled together in an tiny articulated brooch... (see drawing on right side of image)

Finally this challenging project is complete! I am quite happy with how the enamels turned out, and with how tidy the tiny hand-fabricated bezels look. Hope the recipient is as pleased with it as I am...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

silent shirt, holey shirt

At the beginning of the month our plucky heroine started yet another decorative long-sleeve T shirt, as the second piece in my wintertime 6PAC sewing. Handwork keeps me sane, keeps the hours spent on public transit from feeling like a wasted life... Last night the sleeves (final two pattern pieces) were completed.

It was my intention that the sleeves have a slightly different complementary design, for several reasons. The long lines of parallel running stitch used on the body sections work well for the kind of horizontal stretch needed there, but somewhat less well on the stretch and bend that happens around the human elbow. Also, the idea of somewhat asymmetrical design on the arms felt like a fun current idea while still within my personal aesthetic.

So, once the cuff and shoulder areas had the overall holey motif added, 'twas time to begin designing and adding the final decorative paint and stitchery... My inspiration was this image, (found online somewhere* several years ago, as a fragment of a larger picture)

An inspiration was to realise that by using pins in the areas to be cut away, it is possible to hold together multiple layers of freezer paper to cut identical reversed stencils

see... it works like a charm...

et voila! - the original sketch is at the top, the two mirror image stencils at the bottom

Design is stenciled with black paint onto the indigo jersey fabric. Still to come, stitching around the motif, cut away at the edges of the petals, and more painting of surrounding scrollwork

Sleeve embellishment is completed, so now all shirt components are ready for assembly... Final construction waits 'til our plucky heroine has finished her current metalwork project (metalwork and enameling trump personal sewing)

* if anyone knows where this is from, I'd gladly add an attribution. (Tried Google Image search without luck) Nowadays I use Pinterest to store inspiring images, while tracking back to first locate where they exist online rather than simply re-pinning, to avoid just this kind of difficulty...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

not amatuer

"Inspiration is for amateurs,
the rest of us just show up and get to work..."

             ~ Chuck Close
(my chosen quote for this weekend, since if I wait for inspiration to find me, I'd be waiting a long long time. Somehow if I just do the work, inspiration like a cat is intrigued, and comes to see what is happening)

theme song for nowadays


A holiday gift for my kitchen: new stove burner, and burner trays, this time black enamel trays instead of the thin plated sheet metal ones that so quickly rust through and fall apart. Surprisingly, the black trays make the whole top of the stove look a little nicer somehow...

Way back in 2010 our plucky heroine started some corbie enamels, not sure when they were completed... know that one was set and gifted away, and the other has been sitting on my workbench with a UnFinishedObject setting, which I decided would be a good warmup for actually completing the goutte/jambe. The Curious Raven brooch is now complete and am working on / have also completed the goutte jambe settings teeny tiny brooch.

Apparently the WarmWindowtm filling in the roman shades in the kitchen is not washable. Didn't realise that when they were constructed. The shades do keep the room more temperate, but after almost eight (8!) years, they are in need of washing and looking a bit shabby. Perhaps the outer layer can be cut away and a new fabric replace the leafy outlines?

This is the cotton/linen fabric for the new bedroom curtains are that my current home decor project. I had been looking at these Ikea curtains for probably the last five years or more. I love the midcentury inspired aesthetic, the colors are just right, and fortunately I am also quite happy with how the fabric looks like now that I have it here at Acorn Cottage and have started working with it.

Only needed to buy one set of curtains to make into the four panels for the two bedroom windows; rather than run the curtains down to the floor, they only need be long enough to reach the windowsills. This is what one of the four panels looks like, with the sunlight shining through it...
Two complete and two more to go, they are not difficult, but large and time-consuming, as each panel has a detached lining which also needs hemmed and attached at the top edge, as well as each completed panel needing pleated in to fit loosely in the space allotted.

Now that there are the real pretty curtains that I have wanted for so long, I am thinking that if I make a pelmet/valance to close in the top edge, that will also make a small but significant improvement in how cold the room is, as it will close off the window convection loop. Possibly a trip to Mr Plywood, or perhaps Woodcrafters is in my near future (oh darn!) Another possible inspired? idea is that there are a few weathered-grey fenceboards in the outdoor lumber stash, which might make a suitable facing for said valance with just a bit of tidy saw work... must go take a closer looksee with a measuring tape when there is a gap in the rain.

Friday, December 21, 2012

hippo birdy

I woke up this morning from an extraordinarily vivid dream about being taught how to throw a boomerang ?!?

It was a day... the good parts were hearing my parents both sing me Happy Birthday, and hearing my sister and her husband sing me Happy Birthday, and getting a phone message whilst I was away from home with my dear Menagerie pals (including Toshi the Wonder Pup) singing me Happy Birthday. There were a number of sweet pictorials and messages online. My Sekrit Santa Swap gift was sitting on the porch when I came home, and thankfully it was not rain-soaked.

Mostly I spent the day by myself, went to work, went grocery shopping (that was nice, one of the cashiers I'd not seen in a long time asked after my health - they remember me, and girl will take all the kindly intended thoughts offered), drove some friends to the airport, came home and cooked a few treats for supper... Splurged on a wee portion of fresh salmon, which was right tasty with some roasted cauliflower and a few slices of polenta. Spent most of the day reminding myself that every day above ground is a good day, and that it was good fortune to have had even for a time a heart-connection with someone else... more than many folks ever have... I am still here in the bright world, even with the ongoing physical challenges that this year has left me with, it is still a world with beauty and kindness that counterbalance all that the dark puts out to oppose it, the light will return...

Headed into the workroom after dinner to get the goutte/jambe setting underway, and Gah! Busy girl forgot that there was a kettle heating on the stove for tea, and the dang thing didn't whistle, but merely burnt up, as in the water boiled out, the burner kept heating until it melted the enamel onto the front burner... I only noticed when there was a bad smell... now I need a new burner ($$). The teakettle was a housewarming gift eight years ago, not sure I should replace it with another of the same, but a teakettle of some sort is necessary useful. I'd like to find one that was stainless steel, not enamel, and one with an easier to clean interior, maybe at one of the Asian markets or the restaurant supply shops downtown...

Our plucky heroine has had enough of the drama and trauma in the last year; and surely hopes that the year to come has more of joy and humor and friendship and love in it, for me and for all the world round, we sure could use it...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

transmogrification revelation

... in which our plucky heroine is smacked over the head with a clue-by-four...
Last night I started back messing with the Ur-jumper - boy howdy is this going to be an interesting ride; re-grading from the size 5 pattern found online to one that fits me. Initial attempt XP1 is not anywhere near there yet, my attempts were overenthusiastic in some areas and not extensive enough in others.
I had a realisation this morning on awakening, after struggling last night with my current minor obsession - re-grading and transmogrifying a size 5 pattern from the 70's to fit my current size and shape... why not, instead of going through all this rigamarole, simply use one of my current well-fitting pinafore patterns, and adapt the details from the Ur-jumper that I find so appealing. Carolyn, over at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, is a master of this concept; she is inspired by the works of various clothing designers, and transforms her own TNT dress patterns into variations that suit her shape and lifestyle.

I think that developing TNT patterns, is one way to allow our creative selves to have a ground on which to dance, rather than having to conjure up the ground first each time. By starting with a pattern that already fits me, I can add in the style lines and details* that I want to have, in one step, rather than the multiple trial garments involved in working with a new pattern, not to mention the additional issues in pattern grading.

Thank you, subconscious brain, for your clever efforts to keep me sane. Girl really didn't want to make up four or five sample garments, just wants clothes to wear that keep me warm and happy in my urban fairytale life...

*shaped midriff panel, dart control shifted to gathers along seamlines, shoulder flanges, large patch pockets, possibly front invisible zipper...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

inside out which our plucky heroine, in the interest of remembering to stop looking at the closed door and focus on the now, turns her winter woolies to turn her luck, or at least her attitude...

because honestly, some days lately have been like this:

(from xkcd)

Started out yesterday by gathering up all the yarn hats that I so busily knit back when knitting (with some of the donated yarn) was all that I could cope with doing, and took them over to the Hawthorne New Seasons, where there was a drop box from this group, which is coordinating getting new handmade warm winter woolies to homeless folks and others who need them...

I decided that part of self-cheering-up might be to make something totally frivolous... black linen! gauze + big grey pom pom trim = a pom pom cowl scarf! (if you want to make one of your own, the directions that inspired me are here) It can be worn long, like a regular scarf, or doubled and short like a cowl. It is surprisingly warm, almost as warm as a wooly neckscarf, and the pom poms are just goofy enough to make me smile...


Yesterday was definitely a counterbalance to the previous whingified days... in the afternoon, the faint bubbles of new ideas surfaced with this idea for a sewing theme pendant, all set about with charms... salvaged and scavenged and fabricated in-studio... there will be tiny little painted enamels and layered metal bas-relief, and needlefelted whimseys. I anticipate trying some new technical experiments in 3-D micro enamel. Whee!

And later that evening, after a work meeting, my friend D came by with a dear little container of holiday cookies and fudge, and a holiday card that when I opened it, required a Great Big Squee! (guess who is going to see Great Big Sea?)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday musings which our plucky heroine looks both backwards and sideways a bit...

The good news is that my tiny* snowy owl pendant, completed and packed to ship in the wee small hours of the night, went to the postal orifice today and will arrive in plenty of time to make a little girl very happy on Christmas morning. I am quite grateful to her parents Osric and Epone, for their confidence in my work and the commission to get me back in the studio... There are another few bits of work also in process, and the work is starting to become engaging again. There are a few small bubbles of new ideas rising - not even real sketches yet, but there will be...
* owl pendant is just under 1" in diameter

Very slow progress on the holey T shirt project, the sleeves are almost as big as the rest of the garment. After this one is done, I suspect that there will be a bit of a break from the reverse applique, as I am feeling a bit ready for a change... maybe back to bus-knitting, as the weather certainly is chilly enough. Time to hunt through the yarn stash for something appealing...

Apparently my family is rather surprised that I have not planned any sort of shindig at all for my birthday, which is this Friday... yes, I know, the Mayan Apocalypse, the day the world ends, etc etc (big whup). Well, for me the world ended twice this year already. Once with a cancer diagnosis in January, (followed by radiation treatment in May) and once again in July... When I think of where I was a year ago, filled to the brim with happiness and unknowing, I just cannot think of what celebratory activity now might be both possible and pleasant. This is not how our plucky heroine usually feels during her favorite time of year.  Girl has survived a year of walking through fire, is still here, still making things, but life still feels quite diminished. The things I do want are neither illegal immoral or fattening, but they either no longer allowed, or impossible to arrange; not sure what, if anything, on the short list still allowed might be a treat.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

SWAP and 6PAC overlapping

Making progress on the "holey" long sleeve t shirt; all the body pieces are finished, now just need to design and complete the sleeves, and then it can  be put together... Given the change in the weather, and a look in my closet, am somewhat altering my winter 6PAC plan here...

pants - dk neutral
::: black V8499
top - dk neutral
::: black TNT t-shirt, mixed grey reverse applique
top - complement
::: indigo/black TNT t-shirt,
outer layer - dk neutral
::: black/cream wool ur-jumper (part of SWAP)
outer layer - complement
::: grey corduroy pinafore
coat pants - dk neutral
:::  black/brown flannel V8499

I don't need any more vests, since there are plenty in the wooly cupboard in various colors, some knit and some stitched. I am not ready to tackle making a coat this winter. Really, what is needful is some more clothing to keep my lower half warm; pants or leggings to wear underneath my skirts and over my boots will be quite welcome. Rather than simply finishing up my UFO rose pinafore, if warmer ones are made instead, it will both further my SWAP plans and help keep me warm... (wool and corduroy being warmer than cotton jersey)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

raindrops are not falling on my head...

... but rather on the new rainhat that our plucky heroine made yesterday (to replace the one I lost).
My kind friend E ran me over to Rose City Textiles yesterday, our local, awesome, source for technical fabrics of all varieties. Goretex is not my favorite thing to run through the sewing machine, but it is doable, and a rain hat is a need, not a want, in a Portland winter, at least for anyone who spends a lot of time on foot out in the weather... I used my TNT hat pattern, (which is actually intended as a rainhat), and tried two new things with this project.

The pattern calls for using a double layer of Cordura nylon as the "interfacing", for which I have always substituted Timtex, but this time I went with the Cordura. It definitely makes the hat lighter, and is more flexible to manipulate through the sewing machine, but it is also much more difficult to get the slippery outer fabric to lay smoothly over the slippery "interfacing". The two layers do, surprisingly, give the brim enough stiffness. I think that for any other kind of hat project the Cordura would be much easier to deal with; the "not sewing through the carefully applied seam sealer or the expensive breathable/waterproof fabric" aspect of this project is rather challenging. The results, though, are just right for this climate.

The other thing I tried was using kitchen parchment paper* as a release when applying the seam sealing tape. That process is never easy on a curved surface, and balancing my hat in process on the big ham**, and carefully holding a piece of paper over where I am ironing was kind of a challenge, but the parchment worked much better than the fabric press cloth I used on my last hat two years ago; it is easy to see through the paper to what you are doing.

I added in six small attachment loops around the seam where the crown of the hat joins the brim. They are not really visible, but will allow me to add decorations to the hat without compromising the waterproof function. I added a loop and hook to the chin strap, so as to be able to add a "hat leash" as my friend R suggested. No more leaving technical rainhats on transit for this gal...

*"parchment paper" is a silicone surfaced paper used in the kitchen for various tasks, and easy to find in the paper/foil/plastic wrap isle in the grocery store.

**moonlighting in the photo as a hat holder, it more usually acts as a pressing aid,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday musings

Not only do I love the process of enameling, but the idea that artwork of my hands can last for centuries adds another layer of meaning; our plucky heroine attempts to make things that are worthy of that timeline...

The kiln has been hot for most of the weekend, as there are two orders due before Christmas. The two pieces are quite different: one a modern pendant, and the other a piece of 13th century style SCA regalia.

My clients are having a small pendant made as a gift for their daughter, who loves snowy owls... Option D was selected, and this weekend I started working on the enameling. After placing and firing the enamel for the background sky and owl, I began to start applying the details. Limoges painted enamel is done using extra finely ground glass mixed with lavender oil. The painted details are then refined using a damp 20/0 (really really tiny) paintbrush to compact and move the enamel. It is a good thing that our plucky heroine does not drink coffee, a great stillness of hand is required

After several additional firings, the owl design is completed. The painting enamel is fully vitrified and fused into the background; the entire design is only an inch across. Now all it needs is for me to fabricate a suitable setting for it, and send it off in the post to arrive in plenty of time before the holiday...

The other piece is more complex, a two part pendant brooch, with really tiny enamels, the smaller enamel is only 3/4" x 1/2", the heraldic designs (Goutte de Sang and Jambe de Lion) are the insignia of particular awards in the SCA Kingdom of An Tir

(click picture for closer view)

I always love to show how the working sketches that I make begin to translate into material objects. Now that the enameling for these pieces is completed, the next step will be to fabricate the settings that will protect the enamel and allow them to be worn as jewelry. There will also be time this week to work on some slightly larger pieces using my beloved cloisonné techniques, with the design elements outlined in narrow silver wire.

Truly, the long drought of work, combined with the long and ongoing convalescence, has taken a toll on me; only realised when this last week, when workshop time spent has returned part of my trueself to me once again. The last few mornings when I awaken there is something drawing me forward into the day: what technical challenge can I solve today, and how much beauty can I add to the world today...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday snippets which our plucky heroine is all too absent-minded...

Alas, yet again, whilst out doing errands, my dear rainhat ended up being left behind somewhere. Sigh. It was turning into a sunny-ish day and I took it off. And probably left it sitting on the seat next to me on MAX, whilst engrossed in talking sewing with an elderly woman in the next row. I've not had much luck with lost hats, they pretty much do not get turned in to lost and found, so I can only hope that whoever finds it needs it... I can make another one, but it means spending more money on Gore-tex, and hours to travel over to the industrial zone to get some... Sigh.

This weekend is all about working on some new orders, need to be done and sent out before Christmas. Having a bit of work come in is very welcome, both for the income, and for the chance to get back to enameling for the first time in a while...

An Tir checky is always a challenge. This is how it looks when I start. Remember that the backing metal here is only about 3/4" across. Enamel is very finely ground glass, like beach sand, but smaller.
After a lot of time pushing the tiny enamel grains around with a 10/0 brush (very tiny) the first layer is ready for the kiln. There will be at least four layers or more before it is ready for adding the heraldic details... tune in tomorrow kids, for more pictures

Monday, December 3, 2012

old school colors

in which our plucky heroine ponders the equation that a whole lot of time spent in med-fu waiting rooms = handwork keeps me sane...

The start of the second winter 6PAC TNT longsleeve T-shirt; indigo over black, stitched with brown; leftside center back done, rightside center back in process (white chalk marks where the upper layer will be cut away; when the shirt is constructed, the visible gap will actually become the center back seam).

The original inspiration is this shirt, made from an incredible two-layer fabric with unique textural patterning. I am using a different style and scale of pattern than the interpretation seen here, and think that the body of the shirt will work quite well with the vertical stitching and cut-away bits. Am wondering about some alternative, less linear, design for the sleeves though...

Monday musings

Our plucky heroine is noticing that there are bits of brightness, that I need to push myself to not just pay attention but to actively follow the pathways that seem appealing; that if effort is expended, it does shift reality. Girl has wound down to a point that it is not about maintaining forward momentum, but the necessity of generating some forward momentum. Stamina is still lacking. Motivation remains difficult, though I suspect that if when the house ever returns to a state of reasonable order that will be much changed. A year of neglect is not turned around in a few days, and the incredibly wearying constant pain is quite troublesome (feet + knees, and now new for this week, add in sacroiliac, whee!)

On the more positive side, there are two pieces begun in the workroom, that are intended to be completed in the next week, so as to be shipped off to their new homes. Snowy owl, and a lovely bit of SCA regalia. Hoping that the tide of no work at all is turning a bit... Had a just lovely day Sunday with the delightful SR, who is interested in my custom clothier skills. If all goes well, this could become an ongoing relationship like the one I had with M for a decade in OlyWa, but trading sewing (rather than housekeeping) for bodywork. The idea of being in less pain, even temporarily, is like a shining star on a foggy night...

My dear pal Rois bought this grey cardigan online, the lapped collar is very nicely designed and hugs the back of the neck in a most warming fashion; since it did not fit her, she gave it to me, knowing that I could refigure it into a suitable shape for me. It need the sleeves shorter, and the hips a bit wider, and, of course, it needs pockets. My plan is to cut the cuffs off the sleeves, and use them for welts on welted pockets, and to insert gores in the side fronts and backs. There is probably some suitable fabric in stash; I recall some grey Polartec that would not be amiss combined with this cozy wool-blend. Somehow, the myriad boxes and bins and piles of fabric bits need to be organised and sorted and culled, so that when mending needs to happen the pieces are easy to find.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

if wishes were horses all beggars would ride... which our plucky heroine contemplates wishes...Was looking through a few posts from a year ago, when in some ways my life was very different. It was BeforeCancer. But in some ways the me of then is still here, in shards perhaps, but shards that still reflect the light.

I had intended to participate in SWAP 2012, and some of the garments I'd planned will instead make their way into SWAP 2013 and the concomitant 6PAC's.

I wrote up a wishlist, back then in early December, and while most of the wishes still live in the land of possibility, a few made their way into the bright world. Last year I wrote:

Gave this one a bit of thought, seems like most of what I wish for, that can be given, involves more the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual stuff.
  1. company while sorting/organising supplies - the sewing room, and the workroom both need attention, and I make much better progress with someone else there to keep me company, is a lot more fun to sort fabric etc with the option for tea and chat...
  2. garden beds built/load of garden soil & compost acquired - a truck with an open bed, or money for a dumptruck load, and a number of strong shovel wielding folks. I have a plan, just need helpers.
  3. debris hauled away - this involves someone with a truck, and help going all round the outdoors of the homeplace, to remove everything that needs to not live here
  4. massage - for many years I had an ongoing every other week massage trade, housecleaning for bodywork; I miss that. Even a modest amount of attention paid to sorting out the knots and such that have accumulated in the last six  seven years would help me a lot
  5. bicycle maintenance and tuneup - I have no experience with how to care for my bike, having only fairly recently started riding again. Would love to learn more, and know that the useful tool of bicycle will be adjusted and cared for properly
  6. standard concrete block - in sets of four or six... why, 'cos I have a number of plastic barrels destined for rainwater collection, and they work a lot better if they are elevated. Concrete is damn heavy to cart home on the bus.
  7. wooden kitchen cart - to add additional counter space here, will make having more than one cook in the kitchen a lot easier. FORHOJA has drawers for storage
  8. install the hard flooring - this is a big project only because it involves removing the entire contents of each of the two bedrooms before the flooring can go down. Probably a weekend for each room, one day to move stuff out, one day to put flooring down and move stuff back in (just a guess, the rooms are pretty small, but there is a lot of stuff. Or...
  9. wooden shelves on the walls in bedroom and sewing room - more shelving will allow better storage of fabrics and other supplies, as well as guest bedding
  10. cross country train trip in a sleeper car - I want to visit my friends and family in New England, I love train travel, and it would be an adventure instead of an ordeal.

Crossed out #7 and #9. The wooden kitchen cart is in my kitchen now, and makes even more of a good difference as suspected a year ago, with drawers to hold eating utensils and placemats and napkins, and a lower shelf perfect to hold the dishpans when not in use. Last winter G came and helped with some of the housecarpenter-ish projects, like filling in the holes in the workroom ceiling left by Demolition Boy years before, and also putting shelves up on the wall above the guest bed. There are aparently some possibilities for #4 and #5 in the circles of friends here in Portland, inquiries are being made.

Our plucky heroine is grateful indeed for kindness and cleverness and the community all round. After all, a year ago it was uncertain that I would even be here this year to be thinking of wishes mine and wishes otherfolks...