Sunday, June 30, 2013

topological sewing puzzle

in which our plucky heroine attempts a level 2 challenge...

There was this extra memory foam* and it seemed like a good idea to make another soft cushion to put atop the new folding foam tourney bed... yes I know it is not as long/wide as the undercushion, but it will be enough to add extra padding under my curvy bits, which will make sleeping on the ground a lot more bearable. The challenge is to make a cover for the foam remnants that will hold them together well. I decided on some kind of cover with internal baffles, and have been stitching away on this tonight, now that it is cool enough that my brain function has returned. I have never actually created anything with internal baffles before... hence the level 2 of this particular project... basic folding tourney bed is level 1

* the memory foam bed topper that I ordered was actually too big for the bed, and required cutting off about seven inches in width and length...

image from Kimchi Cuddles

A year ago I was wondering why I felt so worried about my relationship, why there were no messages, and kept telling myself that he was busy in his own life, that it was merely unreasonable fears that were shadows from my own past. It has been almost a year now, since G chose to leave. It might not have been forever, but there was a lot of joy and wonder in the year and a half we did have. Girl is grateful for the good, and sorrowful it had to end, but has no regrets. There are and were many memories of adventure and experience that shine brightly in my mind still, that are wealth no one can take away. Do folks who fortune allows that kind of togetherness more daily, still cherish the wonder? I surely hope so...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday thoughts

Handwork on a tunic for my friend Seb Barnett, basic rectangular construction, but I figured that since ATW is not till the end of next week, that time spent riding transit between now and then meant adding some embroidered embellishment would be an option. Double overcasting on the neckline edge will add strength, and I plan on adding some simple decorative stitchery around the front yoke just for pretty...

There are some small apples on the brushy growth from the damaged apple tree! On consultation with my tree guru, the small apples were thinned to about a big handspan apart, which yielded a small bowl full of green apples. These may go in the freezer till there is time to make some apple pectin, and maybe some lavender blueberry jam...

Gah! almost lost the last hen... had fallen asleep way too early Tuesday night, like at around 8, when it was still light out, so apparently forgot to close the LoneChicken up... woke up about 2AM to the sound of chicken screaming... ran outside and managed to chase off "something"... ran back inside for flashlight, banging shin on clothesline pole that had fallen down in my haste outdoors... spent about an hour looking for hen, found her minus a few feathers... couldn't catch her till I thought to go inside and get the burden cloth (big canvas square) and drop it over her... chicken back in henhouse with the door shut, and now I am wide awake! Next on the agenda after ATW: building a chicken run or a chicken tractor... for sometime this year there will be new young hens that will actually lay eggs, and I want there to be some slightly more secure arrangements.

Really the LoneChicken is not doing well, chickens are flock animals and are unhappy alone. She doesn't want to come out of the chicken house in the morning, and then heads back in there midafternoon even though it is still light out. I don't want a "pet" chicken, my hens are livestock, not pets. She is not tame, and, of course, she is the one that was not laying eggs at all. Really the thing to do is to connect with my knowledgeable friends and turn her into hen soup, a transition I have never done, though I have eaten meat for most though not all of my life. It is a dilemma...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday and Sunday snippets

A request to the universe that there be more social time in my solitary life was answered almost immediately, with an unexpected luncheon with Silverdale Karen and Darylee from Ohio. Much fun and laughter ensued, as well as some incredibly tasty burgers at Dick's Kitchen... last time I was there the special was wild boar burgers, this time it was pastured lamb, with feta-tatziki sauce, mmmmm....

Somehow, I'd never noticed that inside the curio shop Noun ("a person's place for things") there is also a cupcake shop, which my pals decided was the place for dessert! There were tiny "taster" cupcakes not much bigger than a quarter, so several of them needed to be carried across the street to the sidewalk tables, where we continued our conversation. I've been told that if you lick the frosting off a cupcake, then it is a muffin, and muffins are healthy, right?

Noun has all sorts of pleasing artifacts, both salvaged and well-aged, and current handicraft. I almost always find things that would be happy living at Acorn Cottage, but rarely actually bring things home with me. These seem like a Very Useful variant on the standard wooden spoon...

hand-carved "tasting spoons" :
 long handles, small spoon bowls

Our plucky heroine almost always carries around index cards; many of my projects start out as tiny sketches or doodles... this is my idea for the next reverse applique/tee shirt project, another gift, this time for Maeve... sketch is about an inch across, done in the corner of a standard index card.

This is the same idea drawn out in pencil, full size on freezer paper, prior to cutting the stencil.
What I did here was to overlay the center front, raglan sleeves and both sides of the center back pattern pieces all round, overlapping at the seam allowances. This makes possible the creation of a design that flows around the entire neckline. Careful measuring will match up the design at the center back

Decided that making certain to have some rhubarb preserves put up before the season ends would be a good thing... bringing these home from the grocery ended up with a discussion; Beth and Karen will try and send small boxes of homegrown produce down here next month, since I shall have various OlyWa folks passing through or staying at the Acorn Cottage bed-n-breakfast almost every weekend.


Middle of Sunday morning, and just as B & K & self are getting ready to head out to acquire more thread, with a side trip to the Farmers Market, when Bill and Jen call. They are passing through town on the way home, and visiting happens...

Bill has some splendid new ink on his forearm: a camas lily with blue blossoms; Jen is pleased with her new shirt; and they drop off the sprang loom for Freydis, and some other weaving tools and pretty things for Aelflaed. There is actually a website for the show that Bill's metalwork will be in. Apparently the show will be up for the whole month of August, in two locations in the Pearl, part at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and part at Waterstone Gallery,  with the opening on Thursday the 1st of August: East-West: The Hammered Metal Object

Once Bill and Jen headed home, there was a short Farmers Market excursion, where three pints of strawberries were acquired, which will pretty much immediately be hulled, sliced and start the process of joining the rhubarb in becoming sauce. A baby cilantro plant now has a home in one of the planter boxes in the side yard. There is some exciting new variegated thread for the pomegranate project. And another weekend with friends is starting to wind down...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

boulder holders

Despite the saying "kids, don't try this at home, we're professionals"... our plucky heroine has, as previously mentioned, every intention of learning to make her own bras, custom fit and adapted to her personal configuration.

here's how the professionals do it...

This project will require not only my skill in franken-patterning, but gathering supplies. While (hopefully) suitable fabric was not that difficult to locate, the other things are not available in local shops. Since ordering the same thing from Canada (closer supplier, geographically) costs twice as much for the wires and three times as much for the postage, last Thursday I ordered the underwires from Merckwaerdigh, an Etsy shop located in The Netherlands that carries all kinds of lingerie/bra sewing supplies, patterns and kits.

The envelope with my order was in my mailbox just before lunchtime today. Four days !! (better, faster, and cheaper) I was shocked. It takes longer than that to send a letter across the USA. I ordered supplies from the other side of the planet, and they get here in four days...

I only need to order a few more needful notions and supplies, (this time from Texas) and will be ready to begin the great bra pattern adventure! It will be curious to see how long those items will take to arrive...


Monday, June 17, 2013

de-tangler is needful

There are days and days when our plucky heroine does not find studio work a delight. Most of the difficulty with fabricating this pendant was due to the shape chosen by my patron, a long lozenge...

The enamel is quite large, for a jewelry piece, being three inches in the longest dimension. The size makes it difficult to keep in a stable horizontal alignment while in the kiln, particularly since it is an angular geometric shape. At 1500°F the glass melts, and metal under the enamel becomes very soft, only retains shape once the enamel cools to room temperature, which is another reason to be careful to balance the counter-enamel on the back.

The painted laurel wreath, (the part I was and still am most happy with) was a challenge to keep even in scale and shape, remembering that the "painting enamel" is more akin to wet sand than to watercolors. I rarely use painting enamel on this scale; usually reserving it for adding tiny details, but here the combined techniques add up to more than the sum of the parts.

And finally, building even a simple closed bezel setting becomes more difficult the more the shape varies from a circle. Still and all, the final result is most impressive, and I hope that the intended recipient feels the same way, since it has taken almost three times my normal turnaround time to complete.

In addition, whilst struggling to complete this commission, I have become aware of an odd and dysfunctional piece of magical thinking, that is getting in the way of my having the kind of life I would like, one where my surroundings support the activities in my life, and one where the work I do moves with relative smoothness from initial contact to delivery...

Part of me resists finishing things and resists dealing with the disorderly clutter, because that part seems to believe that if I have everything in order, and all my projects completed, then my life will be over and I will die. Needless to say, this is a peculiar and inappropriate way of thinking, and I am not quite sure how to counteract it. I have been pushing myself to just work ahead anyway, with mixed and less than ideal results. Recalcitrant projects do not help. I am rather embarrassed to have figured this out, and don't know anyone else who feels this way, or where to look for possible solutions... sometimes the inside of my head is a very odd place indeed!

Next up in the everlasting project list: back to cloisonn├ę in the workroom, and another gift reverse applique t-shirt...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday snippets

A long road home it is indeed, from the land of illness. Still walking that path, trusting that there will be places to rest along the way, that there will be good folks to pass the time with... There is home and there is Home, and may fortune allow a long long trail yet ahead, with some shiney-brighnessess to sparkle. A year ago I'd just walked through fire, and the one I loved was still by my side, not yet gone to another... Now I walk alone as Kipling's cat, though not all places are alike to me.

If you fall asleep reading Neil Gaiman's Anasasi Boys, your dreams will be full strange, though like the cottonwood fluff in the air this season, those dreams will fragment and blow away on waking...

This morning girl went back to the King Farmers Market. There were more of the sweet Diva cucumbers, and tiny dark purple new potatoes. There was kale to make into kale-bulgar-feta salad. There was lamb bacon still too spendy to bring home. And there was a marimba band...

That particular sound, reaching out across the park to where I was walking, sends waves resonating back in memory. I remember the first time I ever saw a marimba, it was a table in the front hallway of my highschool pal Zen, an elaborate artifact of rosewood and metal, covered in stacks of mail, and books, and things...

It was years later that I ever found out the way that wood can sound like a bell, and that particular flavor of sound always feels like a festival to my ears. (well other than when it is part of gamelan, which is a whole 'nother kind of thing indeed, being more like the song that the universe is always singing) Mostly today, it was antinomical, made me think of Oregon Country Fair, and the drumming that is the heartbeat of the Fair, and how much I miss being there, particularly this year. I had to hold hard to remembering that right here right now, everything was okay, that just because I don't get what I want, that what I do get is still abundance, food to take home and eat, a roof to live under, a body that still walks around in the bright world.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

two random Thursday thoughts...

I've been much taken up lately with the idea of making my own custom bras, not just the simple sports-bra style that I've made for the last twenty years or more, but decorative fancy/pretty ones, like I'd long given up hope of every having. I went to Nordstroms a few months ago to try and get "fitted", and they didn't have anything; then went to a small boutique nearby on Alberta "The Pencil Test", where it was discovered why it has been so difficult for so long, the size(s) that actually fit our plucky heroine are not common. There were a few to try on, but nothing that was "just right"...

I have TNT garment patterns, why not add in lingerie? There is a fair amount of information online, and I just checked out two books from the library. In the back of my mind I am cogitating on frankenpatterning... Like anything else, as far as custom sewing, it involves a lot lot lot of trial and error to get the pattern right, and a fair amount of fitting, but the actual sewing sounds to be not that time consuming (once the pattering is sorted out) This will be a rather long term project... even more complicated than my t-shirt project, which took about four trial patterns to get right... but just think how nifty it will be!

One of the difficulties is that even here in Portland - City of the Independent Fabric Stores, most of the particular supplies are not available. I ended up finding a few of the needful fabrics, and one of the several plush elastics at Mill Ends (still need to scope out Fabric Depot), but just ordered underwires from Merckwaerdigh in the Netherlands, for my DIY bra experiments. Why is it cheaper to order from across the planet than from Canada??

Huzzah for Sharon Rose! Girl is seeing some gradual improvement in my baseline pain, acupuncture is definitely making a difference. While recreational walking is still not really an option, necessary walking is getting easier, and today the up and down stairs was almost normal. The strange neuro-pain in my left arm, which occasioned the horribly drama-llama visit from the 911 boys, is easing off, hopefully not to return.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine shares some brightly colored things...

Did not get as much studio and house work done over the weekend as desired, as some 24hr bug took me out, and made attending my pal Emily's 50th birthday potluck picnic a definite no-go. Not my best weekend ever...

By midday Sunday was feeling rather less like a dogs breakfast, so headed out to the King Farmers Market(much smaller than the big downtown one, so I am less likely to be stepped on) Though the budget did not stretch to exotic mushrooms, or lamb bacon, I brought home some tasty berries, local new cucumbers named "Diva", and a green I'd never seen before called agretti, which is related to tumbleweed (tastes crunchy and green and slightly salty in a good way)

Monday's breakfast was rather self-indulgent: french toast made with some of the last of the homegrown eggs, and fresh berries. Did you know that if you cut strawberries vertically, they make a heart shape?


Since not attending the shindig on Saturday, the ingredients for my potluck contribution were all still in the fridge, so there was nothing else to do but go ahead and make up a batch of Calico Confetti Coleslaw. Usually I only make fancy coleslaw for parties (my everyday recipe is just cabbage carrots oil and salt), so this is a real treat.
To make the slaw, chop or grate 1/4 head of cabbage, 1 red bell pepper, 1 to 2 carrots, 1/2 apple. The original recipe calls for jicama, but since that only shows up occasionally, and never organic, I substitute a crisp apple. The original recipe also calls for half a jalape├▒o, but since I am a capsicum weenie, I leave that out. For the dressing, mix 1/2c mayo (or olive oil), 2 tablesppons or more of chopped cilantro, 1/2 c fresh orange juice, then salt and pepper to taste. The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoon sugar, which could certainly be added if you were making up a big batch, but I find it unnecessary.

And for your crafting pleasure... another freezer paper stencil tip: to center a design on substrate, I mark the centers before cutting the stencil, then carefully cut suitable notches in the paper, to allow alignment before ironing into place without getting close enough to the stencil for the paint to go awry. Here, the important thing was to have the design centered on the fabric, so I ironed a crease in the center front, and then aligned the notches...

Applying the paint to the stencil ends up looking like this! I use a very finegrained sponge for small stencil projects, and apply several thin layers of paint.

Voila! Not bad for almost a weeks-worth of small evening chunks of time, cutting all those tiny dots was really slow, but I am quite happy with the results... Now this this can go on to be my next carryaround handwork project. (The center front crease used to locate the design is still visible)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

lots of dots

One handy thing when cutting freezer paper stencils, besides having a very sharp blade, is to have a suitable substrate... I use a Very Small plastic cutting board, which, while not suitable really for kitchen work, is excellent for this use; the rather dopey flower shape (which is what makes it less than ideal in the kitchen) means that it is really easy to turn in various directions, which helps when cutting out tiny dots... and as you can see, there are lots of tiny dots in this particular stencil, some less than 1/8"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

a slightly better day

Though my arm is still hurting, our plucky heroine seems to have made it through the night and is still alive. My nextdoor neighbors came over this morning to check in on me. Did I mention that I love my neighborhood? Today is an improvement: not so much with the sleeping for no good reason, and a bit more with the productivity. Having my friend E come over for part of the day was a big help, we had planned this get-together weeks ago, to encourage each other on projects that are for one reason or another being stubborn. Consequentially, there is a noticeable amount of paper recycling debris gone from my tabletop, and all the wires are bent for the current enamel project - E made good progress on her linen undergown (gussets are always the hardest part)

Since the weather is so warm and sunny, it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and paint the plywood cutout that will be filling the gaps around the bathroom vent fan. Like most every project around the homeplace, it takes forever and a day to complete, but done in small increments is still done... This project (replace old dysfunctional & loud vent fan with new improved EnergyStar quiet fan) started in May 2008. Once the plywood is painted and attached to the ceiling, one small project can be checked of the very long punch list. There are four more bathroom repair projects (replace shower surround molding, replace sink, undersink fill in, and mosaic backsplash), and at least one of those will also be completed this summer...

Saturday, June 1, 2013


in which our plucky heroine has a terrible horrible awful no good day... Mostly I try and post about the good stuff, and not share the less than good. I realise this is all first world problems, but right now girl just wants a hug, and some company, don't you know...

This evening, I noticed pretty bad pain in my left arm. So I called the nurse consult line, because I didn't know if it was nothing, or a "life threatening emergency". They told me to call 911. So I had the firemen here, and then the EMT's, and they checked my heart with their machines, and my heart seems normal. I figured better to be a fool than dead of stupidity.

I started today feeling off, and instead of my usual productivity, spent most of the day asleep instead of the decluttering, house chores and studio work I'd planned on.

The memory foam (that I bought from Costco online to try and make the bed a little more comfy so I will sleep better at night) is soooo smelly that I ended up needing to drag it outside into the sun to try and air it out. That foam is heavy and awkward for one small gal to horse around. I entirely discombobulated the futon frame also, while trying to put it back into place once I realised that keeping the memory foam inside was making the entire house smell bad.

Got the new phone (which arrived yesterday, and no thanks to FedEx for screwing up the delivery big time so I needed to take three hours to go pick it up) sorted out, mostly, so that is a plus, and once they mail me the instructions manual I will be able to figure out how to use it. It is still a very Basic Moron Phone, but all the buttons work. Just not the same way that the old phone did. Instructions will help, I hope.

In addition, this last week some critter killed and partially ate one of my two remaining hens. In the morning while I was taking a shower. I'd not wish that kind of end on even my least favorite being. And, based on that there are now no eggs at all in the chicken house, it was the one hen that was still laying... I feel bad for the one remaining hen; chooks are not happy as solitary creatures.

Hopefully I can get the homeplace a bit less of a rubbish tip, and can turn this bad attitude around. The only bright spot was that my kittycorner neighbors came over once the firemen and ambulance left, to check in on me and make sure I was okay. I love my neighborhood.