Thursday, February 28, 2013

thoughtful Thursday

...If I am my only mirror, then any flaws I see will be doubled; but mirrored by my beloved friends, that multiple and varied perspective gives a more true reflection, and that clarity can lead to potential clearer and kinder knowledge of myself...

...that was written whilst on the way home from Seattle on Monday. To be perceived clearly and deeply, to have our own inner truth be known by another(s), and to have that appreciated and loved, that is by far one of the most best things we can do for one another. Somehow, in the middle of the madhouse that moving a three story housefull of folks entails, all kinds of truthful moments managed to exist, the weekend being rather the equivalent of going on a really long road trip together. And happily, the result was that we all came a little closer together (unlike the road trip from Hell, which I went on back in the 90's; yes the Canadian Rockies are beautiful and no, I never want to see those folks again, but that is another story entirely), without having to be stuffed in an automobile. Sometimes, well actually always, you do get what you really ask for...* Various folks had words to tell me that were useful and thought provoking, and our plucky heroine is feeling well nourished indeed, in a way that has not happened for months, and will be mulling over those bits and pieces for a while to come, and looking forward to when life allows another visit north.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

  -  Rumi

*and sometimes, you get things that you didn't ask for, and sometimes that is a treat, and sometimes that is a horror, but like Cher said "In this life, you don't always get what you want, you get what you get..." To which our plucky heroine responds - and what you do with what you get says a lot about who you are....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

stitchery progress report

While these are not the most elegant of photos, and will be replaced in the end with hopefully something more complimentary, they do show that there are another two t-shirts finished... What can a girl do when it is a cold February day? The Blue Max photo was taken very quickly before I too turned blue. The shirt will be good everyday clothing, which is what is needed most in my wardrobe.
The cave horse shirt has sleeves that really make me happy, for some reason that kind of triangle pattern always pleases my designer brain. I wore this shirt all day as a third layer over a longsleeve grey rayon t-shirt and an indigo corduroy pinafore; it makes the t-shirt look a little bunchy. Trust me, when worn as a single layer, it fits just fine.
If it is possible to continue with steady progress on both my own projects and on my work for others, then before too long it will be possible to retire the threadbare worn clothing in my closet for sturdy new garments that will be fun to wear for the next several years

highlighted clothing is completed, black denim pinafore is half done...
springtime 6PAC
2013 SWAP

 pinaforeblack vertical pique
black denimpinafore black denim

top black reverse applique

topgrey/black knit
black floral printtopblack floral print
apronbridge/third layer apron

pinaforebrown twill
indigo denimpinaforeindigo denim

topbrown knit
indigo knittopindigo knit
brown/blue + Libertytop brown/blue + Liberty

Monday, February 25, 2013

sparkled with unexpected delight which our plucky heroine travels to Seattle Thursday evening, for several days of helping some friends with their move from where they have been living for many years into an incredible house that they are buying.

Now mind, my current health meant that my help consisted of walking over to TJ's and getting more empty boxes and dozens of eggs to hard boil (protein finger food), washing and packing kitchen things, cooking, and a small amount of child-minding whilst the more able adults and stalwart teens ran things back and forth. But the long weekend was a real joy, for a whole assortment of reasons. On Friday, after a day of this, my pals suddenly announced that we were to be going out with them to see a live performance by Cabiri that evening; they had been able to get two additional tickets to see "Gods of the Night".

a sampling of the kinds of theater Cabiri does

The show we saw was based on Babylonian celestial mythology, and it was spectacular, in both senses of the word! The combination of various kinds of aerial acrobatics, dance, color and light was one of the most amazing things I have been gifted to be able to see, and to watch the drama of Inanna's journey on stage was particularly meaningful. If fortune allows, a trip back to Seattle later in the year to see another Cabiri performance would be wonderful; the combination of skill and story are incredibly resonant. I always cherish the bits that I find that are pieces of the world I want to live in, this was an entirely unexpected one.

Some of my Seattle friends I have known for years and others that I had only met once or twice, but I've always wanted to spend more time with them. The young children are three years older than when I last visited, and the older daughter is just about eighteen; how thoughtful my friends are as parents, and the attention with which communication happens in their family, is impressive to watch.

I realise that there are just as many subcultures for younger folks as for adults, but the whole passel of friendly teens that came over to help with the move were so very different from the teen world of my own youth, that I went home sprinkled with a dusting of hope for the future. On Saturday night, after hours and hours of packing/moving/etc, we were all draped exhausted on some of the remaining chairs and floor, when the young adults started playing Truth or Dare. I'd only ever read of that game, but this was not perzacktly like what I imagined; rather than discomfort, the idea of the game seemed to be to ask Truth questions that would bring deep, intriguing ideas out where they could be seen and talked about. In only a short while, the teens had included everyone in the room, parents, visiting adults, and the six year old... No one had the energy to even request a Dare, but the conversation went round till it was apparent that sleep would be necessary for the next days efforts. It was, for me, a most unusual evening.

When it came time to head south to Portland and my Acorn Cottage home, there were new friends, stronger connections, and a whole slew of new ideas to mull over...(not to mention some seriously Sore Legs and Feet, and somewhere in there my eyeglass nosepad broke) In time, the legs and feet will rest, the glasses will be repaired; the true lasting effect will be another strand of connection is strengthened. There are extant invitations for visits from up north down here, and promises to return...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

well begun is half done

The gaps in my current wardrobe, as opposed to the aspects that could be improved, are that my everyday pinafores are wearing out, and that there is a dearth of intermediate weather tops, for the days between the multilayered wintertime and the popover dresses of high summer. Something about starting SWAP on Boxing Day, so soon after the winter solstice, leads to our plucky heroine coming up with a plan based on clothes for winter, but by the end of SWAP in April, it will be quite warm indeed...

So, with that in mind, there will be short sleeves on the rest of my swappety-sixpackety tops. My Bang! said Max (homage to Rosemary Wells) T-shirt is finished, and the cave horse T-shirt will soon be as well. That one had as a "new" technique using fusible webbing tape to stabilise the hemline before stitching. My hope is that the tape, combined with the triple zigzag on my new machine, will work together for a hemline that lays relatively flat, a goal that remains still elusive for me in knitwear.
The neckline of the cave horse T-shirt is simply bound with a narrow band of jersey, with raw edges, handstitched in place. If the jersey is folded right side inward, then the natural curve of the fabric will help keep the raw edges down against the fabric, (the opposite of the Max shirt neckline detail)
Just as with machine sewing a binding onto knitwear, it helps to get a nice flat result if the binding is somewhat shorter than the opening. In this case, I gently pulled the binding taut whilst basting it into place, keeping the shirt fabric loose; around the more sharp curves, the binding will lay flatter if it has been pulled a little more taut (as seen in the first picture, the lower corner of the neckline curve looks almost gathered, but once stitched in place and trimmed it simply looks tidy)
Once the wider piece of binding is stitched down near the edge, the excess fabric is cut away, leaving a binding a little less than half an inch wide, and taking care to leave some fabric on the outside of the stitching.  Though this seems very narrow, the other shirts I have done this way are holding up well.

These two t-shirts complete mean that my SWAP sewing is almost half done, with five garments completed out of the eleven. My intention is to complete one knit top, one blouse, and three more pinafores, and then figure out what will be a suitable "bridge" to play nicely with both my grey/black and indigo/brown clothing...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

continuing education

The way to increase your skills and ability is to both practice what you know, and continue to try new things... For this simple t-shirt (made as most of mine are from thrifted bits) it seemed like a fun idea to try a new-to-me neckline binding technique. The clever "reverse binding for single knits", posted on Shams blog, is a technique that I had never attempted before...

Of course, the fabric I was using was very different from her example; I figured that using a narrower strip would just give me a narrower binding, as proved the case. Rather than using a ½" seam allowance for the initial stitching, ¼" proved to be suitable, and I cut away the stitching from the hemline of the grey t-shirt that I used for the revised center panel on the cave horse shirt, which left me with a nice even strip, that was only about 1¼" wide. My new machine, 'lil Nina, really showed her stuff, as the dashboard allowed me to set a zigzag stitch that was barely wider than straight stitching, which gives just enough stretch to the neckline stitching.
Initially the extra fabric beyond the binding didn't really curl up, but a bit of judicious stretching and patting and it now looks rather like some kind of double-piped edge, and will be a good addition to my edge binding repertoire. A great Big thank you to the amazing Shams for this, as well as all the other wonderful sewing information that she shares so freely!

Monday, February 18, 2013

montage Monday - week 7

Our plucky heroine hadn't done quite as much photography as usual these last few weeks, since much of the time whilst my parents were visiting was taken up with well, visiting, and the kind of plain daily life that is something I dearly miss. We spent quite a bit of time just being together, talking, and reading, and a bit of watching DVD's together too. We all found that we quite enjoyed the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford - (I'd read the books years ago, but barely remembered the stories) My dad, at 81, might not gallivant around quite as quickly as he did when I was a girl, but he is still a voracious reader, and I was quite unable to dissuade him from taking broom and rake to my front porch and entryway, which look immensely better now than they did when my parents arrived.

It is hard to tell, but it seems that dusk is just starting to come a little later each day...

and in addition to my ever beloved mossy landscapes...

there are definite signs that springtime is on the way!

This downtown doorway is quite an elaborate confection of metalwork techniques; it must be something to see if all illuminated in the nighttime.

Mended patching in the concrete at the far end of my street makes a kind of abstract landscape, with tiny moss accents.

This patina rusted object has a strange kind of beauty, I always wonder why it is so easy to see the wabi sabi beauty in an aged object, and so difficult to acknowledge it in one another...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday snippets

Marian gave me this lovely mohair yarn as a holiday gift, and my Mom is very fond of mohair… so… I decided that a simple cowl would make a great gift/early birthday present.

Knitting in the round, and switching directions every five rounds, would work up into a kind of corrugated shape to take advantage of the fluffy mohair. As it sits in my lap while knitting, it looks rather like a cloud, hence the name: "Cumulus". Indeed, this project took barely more than a day, and can be posted off to my mother in time to keep her warm this winter, for while it is rising spring here, it is still winter in New England

As far as my own progress: have two new t-shirts cut out, with stencilled and block printed decorative embellishment. These are intended to be fun everyday clothing. After sorting through my current wardrobe (I moved everything temporarily while my parents were visiting, which was a great way to remind myself of what I actually have) I have revised my SWAP and 6PAC plans a bit. I already have many more wintertime tops (long sleeves) than springtime ones (short sleeves), so the new tops will all be short sleeved ones.
My initial plan for the grey T shirt was to have all the pattern pieces either stencilled or painted, for a kind of tribal-patterned effect. I was inspired by Vogue 8817, but my attempts to create suitable patterned fabric fell short of my imagination, and I KNEW that if I actually put together the pieces, it would languish in my dresser unworn. So, keep the patterned sleeves, add a cave horse stencil patch, and cut out a new center front panel. Since there was not a large enough piece of either of the two grey fabrics, it was time to cut into a third thrifted t-shirt. The three different greys are similar enough in hue and value that the differing colors look intentional (I hope). The indigo blue shirt is cut from a thrifted jersey bedsheet, so that top will be all one color, though I intend to bind the edges with some of the grey that is a good match for the taupe-grey stamped and stenciled graphic.

revelatory arc

in which our plucky heroine unburies bones long underground, in hope that they may be a Useful Framework...

Long long years ago, in a life that is unimaginably distant from now, psychedelia was, while not everyday, still a familiar part of life... In the same way that one cannot go Underhill into Faerie and return unchanged, so it was then, on Journeys of another sort. Those who managed to navigate from Then to this unexpected Now will witness the truth of my memories. As best my aged mind can recall, the journey had parts... the Drop, the Rise, the Peak, and the Coming Down.

This is so much like the story of F and G. The Drop was the night that he stayed here after 12th Night 2011. The Rise, that time when you feel that something is changed, but you are waiting for the sparkles to begin, that was the months at the beginning while I was in Califonia, and the chatting online, and then the gradual incline into intimacy... the Peak was for months and months, all those good times: the travel and the visiting and the daily life bits that I so cherished and never ever took for granted. The nights he would drive me home from up north, the singing in the truck... the photograpy walks and the time by the river... but it ended, unlike tripping, in a way that felt very sudden.

The Coming Down, that is the part that I must do alone. Psychedelic coming down was always that part where you are really really tired and yet still cannot sleep, there is a kind of gentleness needed, that makes me remember that I need to be gentle to myself about this, however long it takes. The best sort of coming down music has a kind of a soothing rocking quality, the only thing you can eat is very gentle food, like tea, or broth. Coming down is like the long end of the mathematical curve, and instead I got a curve with a steep cliff in it, and am still rather banged up from that. I need some kind of arnica of the spirit, a balm for the plucky though bruised girl that is still here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday fragments

Seemed like today was the first day of spring... the sun was shining on the yard, shining with all it's might, or at least as much might as a February day could muster. So there was nothing to it then but to hang the first load of laundry outside for the year. 'Tis a small but certain pleasure, the scent of sun-dried sheets, and one that requires only some modest effort (and the good fortune to have sheets, a washer, and a yard to hang them in) to indulge myself.

Not only was it the first outdoor laundry dry day, but it was also the first bicycle errand day. For some reason I have yet to feel tired of heading out to do local errands on two wheels, even if it is only taking the recycling away, and picking up a few groceries. While my cranky feet, while improved, are still not where I would wish them to be, and they remind me so most loudly when I must climb up or down stairs, like the steep one up to the paper recycling bin, the rotary motion of cycling, combined with it being a transport that takes most of the weight off my feet, means that it is much less painful than shanks-mare.

Yesterday was the holiday that once again is for "other people". Most surprisingly though, while walking down the street, a young woman handed me a folded piece of paper and wished me a Happy Valentines Day. Though I suspected it to merely contain a bit of advertisement, the pink crayon heart on the outside led me to open it, where I found a few lines of Walt Whitman poetry, including the words "...but now i think there is no unreturned love, the pay is certain one way or another, (i loved a certain person ardently and my love was not returned, yet out of that i have written these songs.)" The world is always sending messages of importance; I need to remember always that the equation always balances. Always. Whether or not I know how it does, and whether or not it does so in the way I would desire. Simple physics, the law of conservation of energy...

Making progress on my black overall pinafore, and had the semi-brilliant idea that adding some teeny rivets would be a nice detail, to reinforce some of the pocketing. Despite wearing dresses most all the time, our plucky heroine is still the little girl that wore coveralls as a child; while I doubt very much that Carhartts makes shop pinafores, my aesthetic leans more towards downhome than downtown, and that is the effect I am going for. Oregon Leather had some small silvery rivets in packets of a dozen, and that will be plenty for this particular project, though knowing they are available, I may go back for more in the future. Mayhap the brown twill pinafore would look well trimmed with black rivets?

more than one way to skin a cat

Lil' Nina has been getting a chance to go through her paces, as our plucky heroine sends all kinds of fabric under the presser foot...

 My current project for both SWAP 2013 and the springtime 6PAC is an "overall-pinafore", being made up in some very heavy black denim, of the sort usually intended for workman's gear. My usual stitchery technique for everyday pinafores were causing difficulty with the machinery, so 'twas needful to come at the edge finishing from a different approach...
from the outside, this looks as expected

Normally the raw edges would be either flat-felled (if seams) or turned twice and stitched down (if edges), but that was creating overly thick and stiff seams and edges, and causing tension problems even with a jeans needle in the machine. It has only been a year or two since the serger came to live here, and a bit of inspiration, and a trip to get some dark thread cones, the problem was (hopefully) solved. Instead of all the folded and stitched seam/edge finishing, the raw edges (either single or doubled) have been serged and then edgestitched (with foot #5 ♥) and topstitched. My hope is that the serger finishing will prove to be durable commensurate with the fabric; don't yet have the experience over time to know...

from the inside, the serged edges are visible.

Once this is completed I will be about a third of the way towards completing SWAP. I have a grey knit top cut out, that will be getting some fairly simple painted embellishment in black. I intend to try again with the peplum blouse, in a black cotton/linen; the peplum flare will be reduced and there is an exceptional set of grey and black lampwork glass buttons made for me by my beloved pal Ariadne that have been waiting for a home... When those two are finished, it will be time for the indigo/brown half of SWAP, and some of the indigo part will be the rest of my springtime 6PAC.

springtime 6PAC
2013 SWAP

 pinaforeblack vertical pique
black denimpinafore black denim

top black reverse applique

topblack linen
black floral printtopblack floral print
bridge* ??

pinaforebrown twill
indigo denimpinaforeindigo denim

topbrown knit
indigo knittopindigo knit
brown/blue + Libertytop brown/blue + Liberty
??third layern/a
for the purposes of my sewing plans, in concordance with my personal style, pinafores count as "bottom" pieces, as they are worn in lieu of pants or skirts...

*Bridge is a garment that is exactly that, as specified in the SWAP 2013 rules: "The 11th garment should be a jacket or other piece that coordinates with both collections, both in style and color." 

**Third layer can be a jacket, a cardigan, a vest, or some other garment...

Monday, February 11, 2013

goal progress

as an antidote to my most recent whinge-y post, let's look at how our plucky heroine is doing... it's been a bit over a month into the new year now...


notice the positive -
I do this in an informal way, (have for years) maybe a notebook to write things down every evening would be a good winding down before bed idea?
find things to say yes to -
Ummm, I listened fairly well to K's suggestions about home reorganisation, and I agreed to let R attempt to edit my writings... this is a difficult category for moi
show up and do the work -
I am being more rigorous about immediate followup on work leads...
nurture new life in the cracks of the old -
??? still grieving, tired of grieving
organise space in my home -
sent a lot (8+ grocery sacks) of paper to recycling, and 3+ bags of things to Goodwill. Met with K and have a start on a new vision of how the interior can be organised
spend time with friends and family -
three week parental visit, plan to spend regular time with E on stitchery things
make time for creativity -
??? maybe use the hour in the morning before breakfast?


household economy improved -
see "show up and do the work"
canine companion? -
realised that the "empty space" in the bedroom would be a great spot for a dog crate...


I've had a cold for the last three days, the kind where your eyes tear up even when you are not sad, and the face feels like it has been stepped on by a large herbivore. My beloved parents left for home this morning, having successfully escaped Blizzard Nemo by being out of town visiting me. My visit to the dental school this afternoon for teeth cleaning went rather well until the demon periodontist showed up and reduced me to tears...

Why are they (periodontal instructors) always so nasty? I do my best to be a participant in whatever health care I can wrangle for myself. I already brush my teeth 2x or more a day using proper technique, I do floss once a day, and I am reasonably well educated and articulate, so browbeating me like a naughty child is not a good way to be helpful. I am, however, poor as a church mouse, even more after my cancer oddessy, and really, my mouth is in pretty good shape considering. Maybe, lady, you never had to deal with the kind of empty piggybank issues that I do, but I'll bet a lot of the other clients at the dental school are not in much better financial shape than I, and your chairside manner SUCKED! Telling me that my teeth will "probably" fall out if I don't have surgery that I can't afford is not helpful. Maybe figuring out what might be possible would have been a better approach. All the dentist instructors have been wonderful, and my dental student is great, but the last periodontist I saw there was equally nasty, they seem to glory in telling you that there is no hope, which is entirely counter productive.

I wish that I was not so close to the edge that incidents like this knock me off my center. Our plucky heroine feels balanced precariously in what only looks like an okay place, and doing what I can to rebuild and shore up and find a way to continue...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

swappety progress

Our plucky heroine has spent most of the last several weeks either working or doing visity things with her venerable parents, which has left little time for personal sewing projects, hence progress on SWAP 2013 and the Springtime 6PAC has slowed to a crawl. Add in the learning curve on a different sewing machine, and a project that might usually take three evenings has taken almost three weeks. As the fable says, though, slow and steady will get you there in the end...

The second of the six tops for 2013 SWAP (which is also top #1 for Spring 6PAC) is now finished. I adore this fabric, a printed Alexander Henry cotton voile, it is almost comparable to Liberty Tana Lawn, and the print design "Trios" has a wonderful mid-century feel to it. I chose to take my TNT dress pattern and cut it off at blouse length, which gives a sort of peplum effect to the top. Having never made or worn such a style before, it was one of several experiments that this particular project entailed. The top fits comfortably, but the style is not one that I feel is particularly becoming worn as an outer layer, the same flared bottom edge that allows it to fit my curves, ends up cutting my figure in half, which makes me look even shorter and stouter than I really am.

Fortunately, that is not my intention as to how this will fit into my wardrobe... blouses and tops are almost invariably worn beneath a pinafore, and in that way it ends up adding a delightful splash of color to my everyday style. The colors in the print will coordinate easily with black and grey, there is a kind of dusty aqua that will look well with indigo, and the odd yellowish grey will probably end up being friends with brown. Overall, I call this a win.

Working on this project was a chance to begin to become familiar with "Nina" (the new sewing machine) There are quirks to every machine, and I am still figuring out what makes her happy and what sewing habits I will need to change. One thing that I am really loving is the ease of changing presser feet on the Bernina; they use an entirely different system than my previous machine, and it is absolutely easy-peasy! I have never had a foot before like #5, the blindhem and edge stitching foot. Combined with the ability to change needle position incrementally from right to left, it has made some aspects of stitchery soooo much easier. One example is that I decided that hemming the bottom edge of this top so as to create minimal bulk was important, as that would show the least whilst it was worn underneath a pinafore. Because the #5 foot allowed/guided me to stitch amazingly close to the folded edge, I was able to successfully and quickly create a "stitch and turn, twice" micro hem, a technique I have read about but never been able to do easily. It will be a pleasure to continue to learn my way with the new machine, which has so many capabilities beyond those of my stalwart everyday former machine.

Monday, February 4, 2013

montage Monday - week 5

there is so much strength in the bonds of love that we share, by birth as well as by choice, despite grief and sorrow and trauma, if fortune smiles just enough, we do not always have to walk alone. Our plucky heroine is incredibly grateful to have a chance to have her venerable parents visiting for almost three weeks...

the year wheel keeps turning,
and under winter rain, blossoms begin

and it sometimes feels like our old skins
are too small for who we may yet become

there are yet more journeys to undertake

and some joy that will always overlay any sorrow

the light of conviviality still shines bright

as new memories create new geology

Sunday, February 3, 2013

see the sights

It was a rare sunny winter day last week, when our plucky heroine took her parents sightseeing... we drove down the Columbia Gorge

and along a small part of the Historic Columbia Highway

where there were a myriad of waterfalls large and small

we stopped at Wahkeena Falls

and at Multnomah Falls

and after our journey...

we, like the birds, came back home to roost...

by the time the sun was setting