Monday, January 28, 2013

montage Monday - week 4 which our plucky heroine spends a lot of time in the rental car and less time on everyday walkabout looksee...

Tree with a heart knot seems just right for this past week, when my beloved venerable parents arrived here for three weeks. I see them rarely as they live on the other coast, but escaping New England winter seemed like a good idea to them, so I get a nice long visit, with all the pleasure and disruption concomitant.

Though it has been cold here too...

...and a gap in the clouds shines soft light
 on this unusual tree fungus high overhead

while someones words of wisdom lie fenced away,
 most ironically

Saturday, January 26, 2013


riding the bus, look up and read a poem, and my eyes fill with tears, for what is forever lost...

"What does it mean, anyway, to know someone?
There's talk and touch, yes;
There's light on the brightness of hair
and a catch of breath close by in the night.
But there's this knowing too: the music of his chosen creek,
the yellow sheen of wood he worked with his hands."

poem by Judith Barrington -
an excerpt from At Soapstone Creek,
Horses and the Human Soul, 2004

photo by our plucky heroine

Friday, January 25, 2013

a gift for B

in which our plucky heroine completes a much belated holiday gift...

My young nephew B is rather quite fond of Lego. Rather than send him yet another building set, it seemed like a fun idea to create something that would allow him to bring his Legos with him to school, without causing any kind of classroom foo - hence these Lego figure t-shirts. As my faithful readers may remember, freezer paper stencils are one of my favorite ways to add crisp images to fabric. Since my everyday repertoire of imagery doesn't include Lego, a quick cruise of Google images yielded plenty of possibilities. It was a quick project: an hours work or so to draw out images and then cut the freezer paper, and once ironed down onto the t-shirts, it didn't take long to actually dab the fabric paint on with a finegrain sponge. The longest wait is then letting the shirts sit for 24 hours while the fabric paint cures. This evening, I will iron the shirts to set the paint, and then they can be wrapped up to travel back to the East Coast where my nephew lives, when my parents, currently visiting here at Acorn Cottage, return home.

Monday, January 21, 2013

montage Monday - week 3

It was a cold week again, and we got a dusting of snow here in the heart of the city...
snow-brick snow-dust-moss-bark
on the bricks and on the trees

This bus ran from north to south of Portland, but with these colors I thought it should go to Ikea instead!

There are food carts near many of the places where you wait for transit, this one has fire inside a converted gas station, and carts around the edges...

On the way home, the grimy grit of Alberta Street is hidden in the color and light of sunset glow...

A pretty hat, an empty head... actually I rather like these glass heads that my pal V has on her windowsill, with or without hats

Saturday was my hysterversary; a year ago I was in hospital, in surgery, and came home to go through a year the likes of which I hope to never repeat. But rather than stay home and dwell on that, our plucky heroine went to a party, along with her dear friends Ulfred and Elfrida, out at the delightful country home of her pal Vandy. The theme was crafternoon-into-evening, and there was much hanging around and working on projects... Meris is particularly good at the knitting whilst hanging around part!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

utility pinafore

Next up will be a new overall utility pinafore, with multiple pockets! Not sure I will do the shaped pocket flaps as sketched, but it seemed like a fun idea...

This will be made up in some heavy black denim, which with luck should last more than a year or two. I was given it as a gift from some friends who know my favorite colors; when pre-washed it started doing some interesting random fadeout almost like tiedye.

I am cutting out the various parts of this bit by bit, the fabric is pretty tough and I can only cut it one layer at a time. The plan is to morph my overall TNT top half with my pinafore TNT skirt patterns, and add a few custom pockets to the skirt half. This will also be part of my "Everyday Whimsey" SWAP 2013. I've got my fingers crossed that I will manage to complete this by the end of the month.

As trim for this, a very narrow band of patchy goodness, which will be edge-bound and added to the hemline, about 1½ inches up from the bottom edge. The trimming fabrics are both small pieces from my stash of "scrap suitable for trim" - the black/cream is from the edges of a block printed tablecloth bought at least 20 years ago at an import store in seattle, and the black/indigo is from a quarter yard bought at StoneMountain in Berkeley years ago.

This trim is my answer to the StashBusting Sewalong challenge for January; well the pinafore is from stash also, but the trim uses the requisite little pieces:
January: Itty Bits! Sew up those remnants left over from another project, use up some of those tiny scraps that you've been long as it's less than a yard of fabric, it counts!

My inspiration for this is my beloved (but ancient, very threadbare, and no longer wearable) overall pinafore, which I refashioned in 2009 from the overalls that I made for my very first SWAP in 2005...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

thoughtful Thursday - a $5 piece of fish

Our plucky heroine loves fresh fish, but rarely allows the indulgence. I know how healthy it can be, but the cost is almost three times the cost of local chicken, and on the kind of budget that is needful, it is a rare treat. Sometimes though, I just cannot resist... When I saw that there was some black cod in the fish case at the grocery, I just had to bring a small piece home... and it made a delectable, if expensive, breakfast today.

It is not surprising that ocean fish is so spendy, while the fish require no care in the raising and growing, simply getting the boats and crew out where the fish can be caught is a resource intensive activity, and getting the caught fish to market as well. That this is an available food is a function of our current culture, but since I love it so and it is so very healthful, being full of useful omega-3, I will allow myself the extravagence once in a long while. Black Cod, also known as Sablefish, is not endangered and is in the best choice/good alternative category on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list.

It was cooked in the most simple way, hot pan cold oil, laid skin down and the pan covered... once the flesh turned more opaque than translucent, carefully flip over for a minute or so, then eat with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The skin is thin and crunchy, reminding me of salmon skin sushi... Indeed black cod is similar to salmon in nutritional profile, but with a very different and almost buttery flavor. Yum! and sorry for no pictures, I ate the fish for breakfast before I thought of the camera...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

stitchy stitch

harristweedCame home from 12th Night with a little bit of loot... Can you read this?... it says "Harris Tweed - Woven in Lewis" and I have three yards to play with. Much more narrow than factory woven goods, it is "all wool and a yard wide".  I am thinking a jacket: some kind of interesting combination of period techniques and modern styling... rectangular construction, maybe lined in silk... might need to have a bit of trim around the edges/collar with velveteen, or even some leather elbow patches!, just because... Not going to be made up this spring, but thinking for autumn, which will allow plenty of time for the design ideas to percolate

My beloved pal Jen, knowing my fondness for the grey+black combination, gifted me with this pair of beads; I foresee earrings in my future, that will coordinate with my Wintertime 6PAC.

Our plucky heroine will concede that there is a mortal lot of fabric scattered round about Acorn Cottage... and while it is all rather too disorderly right now, it does mean that most of the materials to create new clothing are close at hand. The "Stashbusting  Sewalong" is just what the doctor ordered...

I have planned currently and am working on the "Winter 6PAC"*, the "Stitchers Guild SWAP 2013"**, and am looking towards the "Spring 6PAC"***, for a total of either 15 or 16 garments. All of the basic fabric for these will come from stash. The only wardrobe sewing purchases that will happen this year will be related needful supplies, such as interfacing and thread.

Stashbusting Sewalong
click for more info

* 6PAC = Six Piece Awesome Collection, the wintertime one is two inner layers, two outer layers, pants (and a coat)
** SWAP = Sewing With A Plan, eleven garments, rules change every year, this year it is two five piece collections with a bridge garment
*** my springtime 6PAC will be three inner layers, two outer layers and a jacket

Most but not all of the 6PAC garments will also be part of SWAP, and visa-versa, there are a few specific to each of the three plans. It sounds like a lot of clothes, but I have a very small wardrobe, and after a year or two, the clothing needs replaced as it is worn beyond repair.

Monday, January 14, 2013

montage Monday - week 2

the cold weather makes outdoor photography a bit dicey, but there is always something interesting to see, and our plucky heroine shall continue her attempts to pay attention to the world...

One sunny cold day, while on the way to the library, these rose hips caught my eye...

On the stairwell up to the acupuncture office, there is a small ledge with this sweet papier-mache maneki-neko. Had I remembered to bring the camera a few weeks ago there was a sprig of holly tucked in beside, which really set off the red details. You will just have to use your imagination...

Once up the stairs, the waiting room offers not just a place to rest after the climb, but refreshment as well. I have not tried to find out if this cute little robot tea holder is actually intended for use, or just for decoration...

On Saturday evening, rather than eat dinner at the 12th Night hotel (which turned out to have been a very good call) my pal Cheriti and I went to a local japanese restaurant for sushi instead. Very tasty...

sometimes at events I get a glimpse of enamels I made years ago, and now when that happens, I can get pictures! This small enamel pendant (about the size of a nickle) is another example of the detail possible with Limoges painting techniques, that would be impossible in cloisonne at that scale...

There were some really excellent exhibits at the Artisans Display at the event; these folks are doing some well detailed and well researched pewter casting

I found this exhibit of herbs and their uses to be really fascinating...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

12th Night

At 12th Night it was a treat to see friends from near and far, and to hear what things have been happening since I last was at an event. I even had some new clothes to wear on Saturday, unlike most years... (I rarely make new SCA clothing, since my historical wardrobe is already far more extensive than my modern clothing.) The main reason, other than just socialising, to attend the event was that my friend Ulfred (Jarl Sir Ulfred Draumfjallr) was being made a Companion of the Order of the Laurel: a high honor and since he already is a Knight, a Pelican, and a Royal Peer, this elevation made him a quadruple peer (very uncommon)
here he is looking very solemn, with his lovely lady wife, (my dear friend Elfreda); 
they are waiting for the ceremonial procession into court for his elevation
finished-quad-peerEarlier this year I had been commissioned to make the enamel for Ulfred's Laurel medallion, (which are often custom made for the particular recipient). My friend, and fellow Laurel, Conochbar (aka Bob), collaborated with me on this project, and he created the elaborate setting for the enamel.

Now and then throughout the weekend, there were also a few inquiries about future enameling work, (which I need to follow up on) and mention of the possibility of reviving open studio time here at Acorn Cottage. Our plucky heroine would like that very much, the only thing better that working in the shop, is working in the shop with other folks there!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I am always so pleased with how much detail it is possible to get using the Limoges enamel technique. This very tiny enamel cabachon is now a very tiny pendant jewel, and will be going to a new home tomorrow...

It started out as a sample piece for the future sewing charm necklace I intend to make this spring. An assortment of charms will ensue, some enamel, some fabricated with pierced and overlaid silver, and some various found objects... I am tempted to acquire a few of the Very Large Snaps, just because they would also be a fun addition to the mix...

But for now, there are enamel projects in the queue that will bring in some needed income, and that must come first... Still, there will be time around the edges of work to make progress on the amusing idea of sewing charms... I wonder what other kinds of charms I could make?
This second picture is specially for my Mom, who suggested that I include something to show how large, or in this case small, my projects are. Good call Mom!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

a new girl in town

I waited 'til almost dinnertime before the UPS truck arrived, with a really big heavy box...

oh look! Look Sally look! See all the funny foam!

inside the box is another box, and inside that is something all wrapped up in bubble wrap...

its big, its heavy, but it isn't log...

Safely here after days in transit... it is my new sewing machine!
I look forward to learning all the nifty things she can do... the very best kind of presents for our plucky heroine (aka Tool Girl) are things that can make other things, and tools that are an improvement on current tools are the most awesome of gifts... My parents love me!

holey moley, and a pinch of wishful

Finally a break in the weather, and our plucky heroine is at home all day, waiting for the UPS delivery of my Mom's sewing machine; she isn't really using it much, so is sending it to me... between house chores I managed to get outside to take pictures of my holey t-shirt:
The shirt by itself is a bit much, though there was great care taken to avoid any inappropriate motif placement... All those dots are cut circles in the upper (indigo) layer of the shirt, showing the black under-layer. There are many parallel lines of stitchery holding the layers together. Actually the whole shirt ended up being stitched together by hand, and there is very narrow edge binding on the cuffs and neckline.

Side view, showing the floral reverse applique on the lower sleeve, and the other side, with the floral motif on the upper sleeve instead.
Pretty much, this is how the shirt will look when I am wearing it, as it is designed to be worn under a pinafore. The double layers of indigo and black will add an extra bit of warmth, acting as a sort of thermal mid-layer.

After seeing Margy and her kappogi apron it was necessary for me to get in the wayback machine and travel back to November 1966, when Sunset Magazine published an article on "make your own Japanese apron". Our city library has open-stack archives going back many decades, and I was able to xerox the relevant information. The magazine article includes a pattern diagram for how to cut out a complete apron from two yards of 36" fabric (when I was young and learning to sew, most fabric was that width) as well as instructions on how to construct the apron.

Not quite the same exact styling as the pattern Margy used, as the sleeves are not elasticised, but according to the article, they made up a number of these aprons for their staff home economists to wear while working in the magazine test kitchen...

Maybe I need to make one of these to wear not just when cooking, but when working in the studio - wish I had some suitable vintage Marimekko fabric in my stash!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine is very grateful that all went well with my oncologist appointment today... the quarterly checkups are not my idea of fun, but that I don't need to come back for another three months is a good thing

  • On Wednesday, my mom's sewing machine will arrive, after a gruelling midwinter UPS transcontinental trip - we all have our fingers crossed - it is sooo much more machine than I currently have, and it is going to live here from now on (small dance of gleefulness while singing "bernina-bernina" to the tune of The Mexican Hat Dance )
  • a few weeks ago dear Rois gave me a sweater... it is toasty warm, but the quality of the zipper is not what I prefer for outdoor gear (really Merrel, what were you thinking) The metal zip was hard to connect together, and cranky in use, so replacing it with a proper molded outdoor zip seemed like a good idea, a project currently underway.
    By the time I am done reconfiguring this garment, it will look only a little bit like the original sweater: added triangular gores for more me-like shape, replace zip with more functional less fashionable one, (and yet to be done but on the list) add pockets, and add some decorative patches...

    The removed zip will become raw material for some zip-edged textile jewelry, using applique and needlefelting. I am thinking maybe an Appaloosa, or a Fjord Horse might be fun and funky.
  • Between working on jewelry projects and sewing projects, I managed to sneak in a little time to make up a muslin of one of the intended SWAP patterns, the AthenaTwo blouse. Not happy with it, glad that I tried it out first... I think that making this into something that I will actually wear is not worth the effort of fighting with the pattern. This leaves me needing to come up with a different option for the woven fabrics set aside for this project, and I think that instead, I shall convert my TNT dress pattern into a blouse.
    Spent a bit of time while traveling around on the bus today thinking about what might make that functional... my idea is to raise the neckline an inch or so, add an underarm gusset, and add a front placket to make room for a front opening/buttons/snaps. If I cut the "skirt" panels to end up with a top that is the same length as my other tops, it would work, and fit, without fighting... My thought is that what makes a blouse/shirt useful to me is that it fits nicely under my pinafores, adds variety in color and/or texture, and has a collar that is comfortable to wear. I can surely come up with varied collar patterns suited to the chosen fabric(s).
  • It seems to me to be a bit one use only, but I really want this set of tiny bottle brushes... tool junkie time, but in fact I have two flower vases made from test tubes, that are soooo difficult to clean and that are in everyday use here... would it be frivolous to buy this?
  • This last weekend B/K shared a tidbit of information with me, that Smartwool makes compression socks! I will be looking into getting a pair to try out, as they would be at least partially wool instead of all synthetic, and might be more comfortable in the summer. There is another company as well, Dahlgren, that makes compression socks from a merino/alpaca blend, which sounds delicious.

Monday, January 7, 2013

montage 52: week 1

Our plucky heroine rather does like this idea, found over on Chez Larsson (Benita is posting once a week, some photos from that week) to do for a year: a once a week montage of whatever images caught my jackdaw eye: would encourage me to be a bit more rigorous about carrying the camera around...

I did end up bringing it along on the recent trip south to spend the turn of the year with friends in Eugene... (thank you B for being willing to drive back to my house from the grocery store when I realised it had been forgotten) it was a treat indeed to get out of town, and spend time with friends not seen often. The sky on the trip down was quite spectacular, with shifting multiple layers of clouds like mokume, and particularly from the back seat, entirely unphotographable.  Shall be content then with an almost silhouette of J, knitting, and the windshield of the beetle adorned with OCF stickers

There is a small forest of really large timber bamboo next to the house; from the backyard you can see how very tall the bamboo is compared to their home

there is a splendid staircase in the center of the house,
all decked out in vermillion and patterning

spoon rack, spice rack and sunlight in the yard;

sword rack, skylight, bamboo, and mirror~ everywhere you turn there are interesting things to see...

more skills combined than I can count; two of my most highly admired artisans in conversation...

portrait of an author reconfiguring string...

and last but not least, because it is the internet after all, an obligatory cat-and-baby photo: not sure how Hrothgar the Ancient feels about baby Sonam...