Wednesday, August 28, 2013

tenday trip: canning fruit for the winter

Soon after our plucky heroine arrived in Mud Bay, there was an excursion to a farmstand out on the road to Steamboat Island. These were beautiful morning glory vines growing just alongside...

A delectable assortment of wonderful homegrown organic veggies, and organic fruit from over the mountains. Cases of peaches and nectarines came back to the house, and Cathy and I planned to fill many many canning jars with fruit for the winter to come...

Juicy fragrant peaches, some to be canned for winter fruit, some to be made into crisp or cut and stirred into homemade ice cream, and some just to eat them up yum!

Gorgeous perfect freestone nectarines, freshly washed and ready to be cut up...

... and put on the stove, to be heated up before packing into jars.

The stove at Mud Bay, with all the burners in use! We canned for the better part of two days.

Nectarines get canned skins-on, which gives an incredible vivid color to the contents.

Some (but by no means all) of our canned fruit. I took home just under four cases of mixed nectarines and peaches, including a few jars each of nectarine-ginger jam and peach-almond-rosewater sauce. This adventure also gave me the chance to try out using the Tatler re-useable canning jar lids, and it was great to find that they are not at all difficult, and the process is quite similar to the familiar metal lid routine. I feel very confident to start using the ones I was gifted with last year, and also feel confident in having the strength and stamina to get back to my home preserving activities, which were derailed in 2012 by cancer surgery and treatment.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

tenday trip: the wedding shindig

in which our plucky heroine revisits the scene of a prior wedding, in order to be the Crone of Honor in the second wedding of my old friends Beth and Karen...

~ :♥: ~
Their first marriage was thirteen years ago, and now that Washington State recognises same sex marriage, they wanted to renew their vows and make it legal. They are just as committed to each other as they were back then.

The two "aunties" with Ceilidh, Karen's niece, who they have been raising since she was five. At their first wedding, Ceilidh was a flower girl...

Ceilidh, the Maiden of Honor, Mindy the Matron of Honor, and our plucky heroine, the Crone of Honor...

Adorable flower girls!! Elli, the brunette, and Laurel the blonde. Elli is daughter to Heather, who was a flower girl at the first wedding, Laurel is daughter to Mindy the Matron of Honor and a longtime friend of the family

Heather, mother of Elli, and daughter of my own dear and oldest friend Sharon; I've known Sharon for over forty years, and Heather her whole life...

The amazing Mindy, woman of many talents and incredible enthusiasm and kindness.

Mindy's husband Bill was the celebrant of the ceremony, here he looks most dapper...

Beth and Karen looking a bit less formal. They each made their wedding clothes, all handstitched, in the Alabama Chanin style of stenciled, embroidered, reverse applique. They created unique and personal designs for each of them

The bodice front on Beth's dress

A smaller motif on the center back of the bodice

Elaborate floral motifs along the hemline

I only managed to catch a small part of the tree-of-life on Karen's shirt, but I really like the way she varied the leaves, some stencilled and some just embroidered (she also embroidered a label inside the shirt that read "something blue in blue floss, very traditional to have for a wedding, which amused me when she shared that bit of information)

Beth also made a shirt for Mindy (the Matron of Honor), with some sweet little mice in love

While I have more than once been at a wedding where there were some handmade decorations and home cooked food, this is the first wedding I've been to where so much of the clothing was also handmade. My own bluerose pinafore was also made in the Alabama Chanin style...

Monday, August 26, 2013

tenday trip: travelog post

in which our plucky heroine has multiple opportunities to choose yes, learn new things, connect with dear friends, and celebrate transitions...

The plan was for me to go up to OlyWa for a tenday, stay with my friends at Mud Bay, be there to celebrate a birthday, be an official witness to the wedding of two friends, take the between week to work on a commission sewing project, visit friends in Seattle, and then be Crone of Honor at the wedding shindig the following Saturday. Somehow, a plethora of additional delightful activities managed to be fit into only ten days, many of which never made it onto my camera...

In 1985 girl fell in love with the Delphi Valley. I feel very grateful to have had the chance to live there the times I did; it remains a true home of my heart. The long vistas down across the fields to the mists and hills beyond are always different and always the same in their beauty...

Highway 101, looking east towards Mud Bay

a slightly different perspective on the giant cattle sculptures
... not to be confused with "Giant Cow" by the Urban Surf Kings

view from Mud Bay Road across the bay to 101 and the hills beyond

view from Mud Bay Road looking north across the bay, and probably my best ever picture of this view...

Blue Heron Bakery has been there for years, they are a local institution, and it was a real treat to get to hang out the first night I was there, sitting around the fire behind the bakery, and hearing such wonderful guitar playing... A few days later I wandered back behind the well house, where one of the old bakery signs remains as decoration.

the overflow from their artesian well, creating a small stream, and blessing the carved stone in the channel. The water at Mud Bay is so sweet and pure, my friends also have an artesian well at their home...

Jen, Bill, Cathy, and Toshi walking home from the bakery. Not sure how the camera shifted the reflections... the bridge is really quite solid, and doesn't have a scary gap down to the water between the road and the railing.

This is the venerable Amanita Trout. She was adopted from the animal shelter sometime in the early 90's as an adult cat. I sometimes refer to her as the cat that will live forever, she has had some amazing adventures and is still going strong and hunting bunnies...

Whilst in OlyWa, the chance to spend time playing in Jen Ariadne's glass studio was irresistible... We took a trip out to Franz Glass in Shelton, and it was a lot like being in a candy store, with bins and bins of glass cane in all colors! Jen is both an inspiring artist and an excellent teacher. Those who know me know I have a minor obsession with eye-beads, and continue to practice learning to make dots. These are probably the most successful I've managed so far; girl is particularly pleased with the two beads on either side of the center, with their multi-layered eyes and paired dark dots in between...

One of the many adventures on my trip was taking public transit from Olympia to Seattle (which took almost four hours). I started out at TESC, took a bus downtown, another bus to the 510 park-n-ride, another bus to downtown Seattle, and finally one last bus ride to my dear friends home in Madrona

Going through downtown Tacoma heading back to I-5, the suspension bridge cables make a pattern against the sky

Once I got off the bus in Seattle, and after lunch in the food court at Uwajimaya (a special treat), girl decided to walk over to where it was possible to catch a bus to my friends home... turned out to be a much longer walk than expected, but there were some scenic fragments to be found downtown

(and that is probably enough travelog for one day, there will be more in the next few days, as the wedding shindig deserves a post, and the canning fruit project was most photogenic... but girl is tired and there is a lot left to do here at Acorn Cottage tonight...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Wind Rises

... our plucky heroine is excited... there is a new Miyazaki film... it has been released in Japan, where it is currently # 1 at the box office, despite the controversy about the subject and content... it will be shown in Toronto and Venice at their respective film festivals...

I wonder if it will ever become available in the USA, since Disney seems to have a tight grip on what Miyazaki films are distributed here, and only with their version dubbed into English. (I saw fragments of Arietty online in the British version, and it was sooo different; actually I usually watch my Miyazaki films in Japanese with the English subtitles, just to avoid the "Disneyfication") The subject matter is not the lighthearted or fantasy topics that would meet their family-friendly paradigm, but Oh how I want to see this, the tiny taste from the trailer shows the incredible beauty from the hand of an artist I consider a living treasure...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

button button

And now, on to the next garment: the black and white pinstripe blouse, which is an Eileen Fisher top that I found at Goodwill... It is rather too small in the torso, being a size S, so I have been cutting off strips from the lower edges and inserting them to make it wider. There will eventually be six narrow gores, which will allow the blouse to button down the front, with the concomitant effect of removing the loose lower panels and making the entire garment more like a blouse than a tunic top. But since I need and wear blouses, and this one has particularly excellent linen/rayon crinkle fabric, I am not at all sorry.

The other thing I am doing is that I am replacing the buttons. For some reason, the original garment has rusty brown color buttons that do not all match each other, and that stand out as the focal point of the top. Not my cup of tea, and not one of my chosen colors either. So, off with the russet buttons, and instead, simple matte black buttons instead. That way, the buttons will recede into the background.

Friday, August 16, 2013

fun with Photoshop which our plucky heroine goes a bit wild with the "clone stamp"...

After all the comments and suggestions over on the Stitchers Guild message board, I couldn't resist a quick stab at Photoshop which allowed me to come up with these neckline variations:

this is the current lace tee neckline:

this is the neckline as I originally cut it, before adding the binding:

this is Terry's suggestion, to widen the sides by a third the width to my shoulders:

this is what (I think) that Ruthie was suggesting:

At this point, after thinking about it for a while, I am pretty much set on neckline #2 for my TNT choice, the neckline as I originally cut it out (before I added the binding). Am now in the middle of looking through my own photo archives and thinking about how necklace construction and components either reinforce or counteract various lines and shapes on the body. Never too old to learn new tricks of thought, and to continue to grow as a designer...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

playing with proportions, or baby bears neckline style

in which our plucky heroine attempts to line things up...

Yesterday when I showed my new lace tee shirt, I referred to my attempt to find the balance point as a way of getting a more becoming neckline. Online agreement was that the longer neckline was, indeed, an improvement. (there were even comments that I looked both younger?, and more athletic?!) There were, as well, several suggestions that the neckline be made wider, in various ways. I decided that it would be an interesting exercise to actually draw the lines and look more specifically at the neckline proportions...

The first thing that I noticed is that where I first cut the neckline it would have been as wide as my face and as long; that the width of the edge binding in the way I stitched it to the neckline makes it a bit smaller (the binding shows up a bit darker around the edges in the photo) What this tells me is that I could either use a different technique to finish the neckline edge, or cut the neckline a little larger all round, to good effect.

Going back to various wardrobe photos, it is clear to me that there is a definite difference in how the shape of the neckline affects how much I like or don't like how I look in the clothing. Proportion really does make a difference. A wider but shorter neckline makes me feel rather like the side of a barn, as it puts the focus disproportionately on width. A neckline that is wide, but deep enough, looks more balanced, but is not always the most practical choice. A neckline that is a good width, length, and shape makes me feel like my head is in proportion to my body, and really does seem to bring the focus up to my face, rather than sending the eye back and forth in a horizontal direction. Even so subtle a thing as what jewelry I am wearing also makes a difference, the length and width of a necklace, the lines made by a scarf, and definitely the difference made by the style of a hat. I will be continuing to explore this concept (and am even considering changing the necklines on some of my other dresses to improve the proportions) as I work my way through sewing my Autumn 6PAC...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Autumn 6PAC - the checkered lace tee shirt

I think that this is a first for me, to have completed one thing for my 6PAC before the end of the first month... of course, it is a pretty simple project - the checkered lace tee shirt:
This is how I will be wearing it later this month, at the outdoor wedding... It works perfectly to visually cover my shoulders and upper arms, but will still allow any cooling breeze to find me. I had to lighten the photo quite a bit, since black on black just doesn't show up well on camera. My bluerose pinafore with the Alabama Chanin style applique and beading will coordinate with the rest of the wedding party, who will all also be wearing clothing made in that style.

Oh... I almost forgot something important: my hat!
Can't go to a sunny outdoor wedding without it...

I cut the neckline rather lower than I usually do, after reading about "finding the balance point" and where the best depth is for either a necklace or the lower edge of the neckline. I did my best to find the spot that was the same length from my chin to the binding as from my hairline to my chin. (and I think that I will forgo wearing a necklace and instead choose some more decorative and elaborate earrings, the neckline looks better, I think, without a pendant - interesting how seeing a photo gives a different perspective than just looking in the mirror)

Monday, August 12, 2013

a small indulgence

I've had these tiny molded glass vintage acorns on my wishlist for a really long time, finally just couldn't resist, and a small package was waiting in my mailbox today. They are pendant-beads (hole visible in center acorn)! I have an idea for earrings that these can become. A number of years back I ran across a photo of an antique pair of exquisite silver acorn and oakleaf earrings, that were quite exactly my SCA badge. While I have no intention of attempting an exact copy, and certainly don't have the dosh to purchase them, I found the design and the variation in scale to be immensely inspiring.

When there is a gap in my work schedule, there will be some playtime at the workbench, to hopefully create tiny oakleaves... I have some ideas, but not sure what will actually work at that scale, and how best to combine various components into something wearable. The original looks to be a combination of cast and fabricated. If I can work out the details, I can have some acorn-ish jewelry (earrings and/or pendants) for sale, as well as an addition to my own small collection of acorn earrings

Every now and again online there are posts about "Keeping Portland Weird", which often feature, among other things, Darth Vader on a unicycle playing the bagpipes... well, this Sunday whilst downtown waiting for the bus home, I kept hearing a piper playing, somewhere, faintly, down one or another of the canyons of buildings and streets... The music got louder, and I just managed to see him wheeling and playing while rolling through the intersection a block away. Sometimes I really love where I live!

Though I much prefer the old folk-style arrangement of this song to the new one they are using here, it is great to run across music and performers that I loved from back in the Club Passim folksong days... David Buskin and Robin Batteau doing a new version of "Warm"

In the chill before the morning, I put my hand upon your cheek
and your skin is soft as velvet, your face is flushed with sleep...
and the rain outside my window plays a sad and lonesome song;
It feels so good beside you, I've been in the rain too long...

Warm, we keep each other warm -
we keep each other safe, and sheltered from the storm.
Love, we may not be in love
but looking at the "loving" that I see, I'm happy just to be so warm...

We're neither of us children, we both have been around,
we both know what it feels like getting lost and being found;
and I'm learning to be grateful for the moments I can steal
from the coldness of the nighttime to the way you make me feel...

Warm, we keep each other warm -
we keep each other safe and sheltered from the storm.
Love, we may not be in love
but looking at the "loving" that I see, I'm happy just to be so warm...

Sunday, August 11, 2013


The world is full of wonders large and small; remember last October when our plucky heroine found an entire huge flower arrangement...

Sometimes, just being in the right place at the right time is enough... This flower was in the top of the trash basket behind the floral counter at New Seasons when I was on my way home after grocery shopping. I picked it up and looked a query at the busy clerk, she nodded and made a shooing gesture... The lily had a broken stem, it would never become part of a bouquet. It will, however, last for weeks, and sweetly scent the back half of Acorn Cottage...

I just love having cut flowers in the house, it gives me a feeling of abundance, because, well, they are "just for pretty"... and having them to look at everyday is a recursive reminder to pay attention, to actually notice the world around you every day, the world that contains beauty and delight and humor, not just electrons and horror and sorrow...

(Okay, enough soapbox, back to the sewing machine for this girl)

Friday, August 9, 2013

2013 6 Piece Autumn Collection

I seem to have started on my autumn 6PAC already, though it is already turning out to be a bit different than I had initially thought... Though I definitely don't need any more tops, I found that I wanted to make a lace top to go with my bluerose pinafore, since I will be the "crone of honor"* at the wedding of two of my friends later this month. Didn't want to wear my one "party dress" yet again.

And, the Eileen Fisher top remodeling project gives me a second top.

Looked in closet to see what was near the end of lifespan, and noticed that the brown corduroy pinafore with all the pockets is looking pretty shabby, so a new brown pinafore is in order - the plan is to use the brown brushed denim twill, and the overall-pinafore pattern for that one.

I also still miss my dark grey bird pinafore that wore entirely out, so will use some more of that fabric - it doesn't wear like iron, only lasts about three years, but I have enough, so... am thinking about combining some Alabama Chanin style applique on the bodice, was thinking about doing that with some madder red jersey in the pomegranate stencil, but am not sure I want to introduce red as an accent color. I tried it out on my digital sketch, and it might be too obtrusive?? (I pretty much don't ever wear red, because I have roseacea, and I feel like anything red calls attention to the red areas on my face) Maybe if I do some embellishment in grey on grey it will look less obtrusive and a bit more subtle/sophisticated?

The other things I'm hoping to have time to sew are some new basic dresses, one in a narrow striped cotton (black with grey and blue) and a popover dress in grey rayon in a textural windowpane-ish plaid. The idea is to create some highly useful, go with most of the things, layers. These sorts of dresses get worn either on their own or underneath pinafores.
It was a sort of whimsical idea I had, to play around with Photoshop and figure out how to add images of the fabric to the sketch of my wardrobe sewing ideas... I figured it out, and learned a few more things to do with the program, practiced by doing all six of the sketches. Now to see how much sewing I can accomplish in the next three months. I also really want to make the next iteration of the bra sewing project, havn't forgotten that either. There are four major sewing for other folks projects as well, that need done in the next two to six weeks. Girl will be busy, and should spend a lot less time online!

* am too old to be the maid of honor, not qualifed to be the matron of honor

Thursday, August 8, 2013

dreaming of autumn - reconstruction

our plucky heroine found an splendid Goodwill score - an Eileen Fisher top, which will be an excellent addition to my autumn wardrobe.

The style: a narrow button-front tunic, with long sleeves, a band collar, and fairly deep side slits. The fabric: a highly crinkled linen rayon blend, black with tiny double pinstripes. Of course, it didn't quite fit me... the shoulders were good, the sleeves were good, but the two sides of the front didn't meet... close, but not there...

center back of narrow band collar

This was too excellent a find to leave for some more svelte* girl to take home. The need to partially deconstruct the shirt has given me a chance to examine how parts of it are put together, in particular the intersection of the side seams and the side slits, and while it is not anything remarkable, it is worth my taking notes to get an equally smooth result in future efforts. My plan is to cut off some of the length to add narrow side panels, and possibly also narrow triangular gores in the back, so the top will skim over my curves, and then re-hem the lower edges.

views of the side seam before and after adding side panels

* svelte is an archaic Norse word for "starved"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

more Tuesday tidbits

our plucky heroine saw so many interesting pieces in the East West : The Hammered Metal Object show...

there was quite a range of styles and techniques

the juxtaposition of forged metal and delicate blackwork embroidery

applied texture - polychrome fabrication

exquisite repousse in foliated designs

sculptural forms in lively radial design

precise inlay and onlay

a step by step example of raising a teapot from a single sheet of metal

this is not an abalone shell, this is a sculpture of an abalone, made from copper.


on Saturday afternoon, Bill spent several hours on my front porch, working on class homework for the workshop he was attending that weekend: "Traditional Japanese Wire Inlay Workshop with Master Satoshi Hara". By sending the students home to continue working in the evening, they were able to learn even more technical knowledge the next day. I look forward to seeing and hearing about the process when next I talk with Bill... I spent that evening working on an enameled regalia order currently in process...