Thursday, October 31, 2013

fun with algebra

The rules have been announced for the next iteration of Sewing With A Plan, commonly called SWAP. This year looks to be most flexible, and for a change our plucky heroine will not need to get creative with bending the rules to suit my own peculiar personal style...

it is what I and several others refer to as the
Algebra SWAP 2014 = 3X + 2☆
X = 2t + b = t + T + B = t + d + b
t=top, b= bottom, T=overlayer, d=dress, ☆=wildcard

My revised plan now looks like this:
  • brown set: brown brushed twill overall pinafore, brown/cream mushroom print blouse, indigo dress
  • grey set: grey corduroy pinafore, grey asian print blouse, grey/black/indigo stripe dress
  • black set: black denim overall pinafore, black/cream microstripe hemp knit top, black denim jacket
  • wildcard: black raincoat
  • wildcard: black/cream pindot wool pinafore

For the official rules in more detail, look here (the site is currently in transition to a new "cloud service, or something etherial like that, so it may or may not be easy to access) SWAP sewing will take place between Boxing Day and the end of April. We are allowed a potential total of three garments not sewn in that time span:
One garment may be previously sewn; another may be purchased.  If you have an item you're working on now, you may include it, OR you may stitch up one item from scratch before the official sewing date of December 26.
I will be including my black denim overall pinafore as a previously sewn garment.

As combining SWAP and 6PAC last year worked so very well, and most all of those garments are in ongoing everyday rotation throughout the year, my intention is to do the selfsame thing again. The suggested assortment is:

winter 6PAC
1 - warm topper! coat, thick jacket, heavy sweater, something for cool temperatures - ideally a dark neutral
2 - lighter topper - cardigan, shirt - a colour
3 - a top to wear under the toppers - in a light or dark neutral
4 - another top to wear under the toppers - in the colour or toning shade of the colour
5 - a pair of trousers, dark neutral
6 - another bottom, dark neutral

and my iteration, at least for now, looks like this:
  • black denim jacket
  • indigo dress
  • black/cream microstripe hemp knit top
  • brown/cream mushroom print blouse
  • grey corduroy pinafore
  • brown brushed twill overall pinafore

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

close your eyes and fly

Bee's dress has a peter pan collar, which, while a currently popular style detail, is not something that I have made before, and is not included on any of my previous garments... I found this Useful Tutorial which will allow me to easily add this collar to my current pattern...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday snippets

in a patch of random sunlight, out in front of the porch, the clerodendrum "fruits" are looking pretty ripe. Might have to pick them to freeze, to try dyeing with the "other blue" sometime later in the year...

The tree seems to be native to Japan, and there is a rumor that the red calyxes can also be used as dyestuff."The lyf so short, the art so long to lerne"  There are more things to learn and try and do than there are days in a lifetime. How can anyone ever be bored, our plucky heroine wonders... between waking life and the dreamlands, there is never a lack of wonders...

turn towards the south, and there was this amazing web caught in the light, just off the side of the house...

and so... I was inspired to finish a project I started several years ago, a seasonal decoration for the time of falling leaves, pumpkins, and spiderwebs everywhere... I had originally glued together some round wooden bits, and realised that a bit of black paint, and some pipe cleaners, were a lot easier than my original plan involving beads and drilling holes and lots of articulated wire... (good thing the housey-spiders are not this big)

some iron wire, an old embroidery hoop, and a doily that was a longago gift from the mother of a friend, combined with a little krafty-silliness to add a bit of seasonal whimsey to the front door of Acorn Cottage

My old friend Charlotte posted a link to Fire Water Earth & Air, a song by Julie Felix, who I'd not thought about in decades... the river flows and we lose sight of our former delight, which continues both in memory and along in time... Julie Felix is still alive, and at age 75 is still performing. This is what she looked and sounded like back in the days when we were all young:

and a more recent performance:


Friday, October 25, 2013

little red dress

...our plucky heroine is tired of wearing SCA clothing for Halloween, so shall make a new costume all in the next week... the fun red dress and cat-face apron that Bee wears at the beginning of Bee and Puppycat:
It should be fairly simple to adapt my standard dress pattern for the dress, as all that will be needed is to make the dress knee length, and the sleeves shorter and puffed, add a white peter pan collar and buttons, and a frill for the bottom of the sleeves. The animated image looks like the frill is a flounce and not a ruffle; flounces are prettier, I suspect that ruffles are quicker and use less fabric. Then I need to make the apron... Fortunately I have fabric paints in suitable colors for the catface, which can be simply stencilled onto the apron bib, and then there is all that frill/ruffle/flounce to do there as well... Alas, I don't have any little white boots, so shall have to make do with my regular boring footwear.

I have been thinking about making some faux ice cubes to carry around in a baggie, y'know "here's some stuff for your stuff"... I think that gelatin would break down at room temperature, but maybe agar agar would work? Do they sell agar at asian grocery stores?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

it's my bag...

In which our plucky heroine joins her online pals around the world, over at Stitcher's Guild, in the "bag making virtual event"

However, since my somewhat grandiose idea of making either a travel bag or a purse/tote bag set would require more time, and since I spent half the weekend away at the AnTir Heraldic Symposium yesterday, my plans needed to be scaled back considerably. Yesterday involved no sewing at all, but did include a chance to play with egg tempera*, visiting old friends rarely seen, and a truly delicious medieval feast... Today's sewing: two rather small zippered bags, suitable for keeping EDC more organised and prettier... The cylindrical one is for assorted writing sticks and suchlike, and the triangular one is for my epi-pen, inhaler, and first aid kit

Supplies for the triangular bag: cut out pieces, and a little "red cross" applique.The larger cylindrical bag (intended to hold pens, pencils, and suchlike) was made following this tutorial, and I used various indigo scraps, including the sashiko acorn motif from a top in my very first SWAP. It has piping inserted around the circular ends of the bag. The smaller triangular bag (to hold my epi-pen, inhaler, and first aid kit) was made following this tutorial.  I used some rather heavy-duty zippers, but that rather adds to their funky look...

Both were quilted down to either fleece or flannel to add substance, since I didn't have an fusible interfacing handy. The quilting and inner layer help make the outer fabric a little more substantial.

On the triangular bag, once the inner and outer shells were assembled, the bag is turned inside out and the inner lining is handstitched to the bitsy seam allowance of the zipper. The cylindrical bag is assembled entirely by machine stitching, with the zipper being sandwiched between the lining and outer layer, pinned, basted and stitched...

  • What I like about these is that they are a nice extension of my style, and remind me of some of the small bags I've seen in Japanese crafting books.
  • What I dislike is that I feel as if I could have done a better looking job if I had hand stitched these, and not tried to make these on the sewing machine... I'm not sure it was actually faster, since these two small bags pretty much took me all day.
  • What I learned is that neither of these two different methods* give me a tidy looking zipper insertion. I am wondering if the method where you insert the zipper into the body of the bag first, then stitch in the ends and bind that inner seam at the last, rather than having the inside be clean finished with a funky zipper? I shall have to try one more time, and see if I like that better. (or, of course, one could sew all the seams to the outside and bind them, that would work also... so many variables)
  • I also learned that small scale piping is not easy to have look well. I fought with it all the way. I was very very careful not to stitch my fingers whilst wrestling with the zipper foot and the circular ends of the larger bag. I don't know if this would get easier with practice, one can hope, since piped edges really add both style and structure to bags...

I still intend to make both a purse and a tote bag, but need to do a bit more research and design work first.

* oh, and in case you wonder... Egg tempera is really fun to play with! Yesterday at the Heraldic Symposium I took a short class in the morning: Historiated Initials in Tempera, (taught by Antonia Crivell). She gave a short talk and demo, then let us try out the medium ourselves; each person was given a page with "coloring book" outlines of period initials to paint.
Though this was as far as I got in the time allotted, with the beginnings of shading and none of the whitework detailing, it was so much fun! Girl just loves making tiny detailed artifacts. Not sure how to include yet another art form in my busy life, but just might have to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

i can haz futur...

Today is Happy Reprieve Day for our plucky heroine... got the results back from scary biopsy test done last week and the answer is "good news, no evidence of dysplasia or malignancy" I can now actually be able to sleep, and contemplate having a future that includes being alive for a while.

Now will go out for a walk on this pretty autumnal day, maybe get some flowers to celebrate, and probably take an afternoon nap to try and catch up a bit on all the sleep I have not had in the last week! Girl is doing a happy dance - I like my life and want to continue to enjoy it for the next thirty years or so...

graphic from the webcomic xkcd

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday shifting

This weekend, thanks to the company of my friends Beth and Karen, one of the Big Scary Chores on my great big list of "things to get done" has been dealt with: we sorted and organised ALL THE FABRIC. It turns out that our plucky heroine has a fairly modest collection, compared to some of my analog and virtual cohorts, and since I make all my own clothing, it doesn't feel at all excessive, particularly now that it is all neatly folded and mostly visible. The only fabric stored in bins is the jersey, the larger remnants, and the linen scraps, everything else is on the shelves in the sewing/guest room. Having all the fabrics visible will help a lot with designing future projects, as well as with wardrobe planning, and with luck and intention, serve as another seed crystal to refurbish and unfuck my habitat!

By gathering all the fabric in one place, this has also freed up the shelves in the workroom, which will gradually take on their true role, intended from the beginning, of becoming the wall of art and craft supplies. My intention is to bit by bit over the winter, to re-sort, cull, and organise the warren of stuff intended for artisanry here at Acorn Cottage. This will vastly improve the teaching possibilities, and allow for much personal creativity to blossom, when the ingredients, supplies, and various tools will be readily to hand. Tool Girl will be doing a happy dance...

The tall Ivar shelf unit is part of the fabric storage area, including some partially completed projects, and the bottom shelf with "ugly" fabric for making sample garments. There is room still on the shelf for millinery supplies, and other specialty notions and fabrics.

This is a little more than half of my stash, these are mostly the large pieces of woven fabric suitable for making into clothing. All the wool is on the top shelf, and there is room above it; I plan on going out into the yard and cutting fresh bunches of fragrant myrtle leaves and stuffing them here and there among the wool to deter moths. The large pieces of knit fabric are in one large plastic tote, about equivalent in quantity to one of the shelves on the bottom right.

Friday, October 11, 2013

it's a sign...

... in which our plucky heroine keeps her eyes open whilst rambling round and about in our fair city...

← This is always a good idea... didn't stop in the shop to see what they were purveying, but it surely was a day for uncommon signage

In case you were looking for a place to park, saw this sign up along on NW Flanders...

Y'know, they seem to happen all on their own, without any additional input... do we really need to generate them??

There are still figs on the Violette tree in the front of the house. Not at all sure if any are forward enough to be edible, but they are a lot larger and darker than usual at this time of year, and our plucky heroine shall hope that at least one or two of them will be... black figs are my favorite. This tree might move to the backyard, there is more sunlight there, and a different way to shade the front window can be figured out...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

our regularly scheduled program this may be obvious to most folks, but it took years to figure out how to remove the screens from the windows here at Acorn Cottage. It never occurred to me that removing half the window first was part of the process! The screens are not removable from the outside of the house, that is one of the things that baffled me in the first place. They are spring loaded and only come out once the sliding portion of the window has been removed, which, for obvious security reasons, can only be done from inside the house as well.

My initial thought had been to wash them, but I wanted to brush off the worst of the dust first; once I did that, by "scrubbing" both sides with a dry scrub brush, they looked like new, so I just put them back... I suspect that now that I know HOW to remove them, they'll not go nine years between cleaning, so not get anywhere near as dusty. The screen itself is easy to clean, just make sure to either have the breeze at your back, or use a fan to generate one, to blow all the dust and pollen away...
I have been rather charmed by Bee and Puppycat, and if the red fabric I remember having in stash somewhere is still there, I will make up a Bee costume for Halloween... truly, her dress in the first scene is not that different from my regular dresses, and who doesn't need want a catfaced apron!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday troubles

in which our plucky heroine holds on to her hat, or, we interrupt your regular broadcast for this special medical bulletin...

So, happy campers, when the doc says this will only hurt a little* "like a pinch", I seriously wonder what "a pinch" feels like in his world... maybe if I grew out my fingernails long, and REALLY didn't like someone, and pinched them HARD in a very sensitive area...

*Today was my regular three month oncology checkup, and my once a year colposcopy*, and this time instead of an all-clear, a dubious area has been biopsied, fingers crossed that it will not be anything scary, won't know till next week. Biopsy down south hurts like the dickens, and getting it cauterised afterwards ditto. It still feels rather like I have cramps, though all the relevant parts are gone.

and now, back to your regularly scheduled medley of crafty goodness, kitchen mayhem, and life with dual sewing machines in the Acorn Cottage zone...

* definition of colposcopy (not to be confused with colonoscopy!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday snippets, or return of the proto-pickles...

in which our plucky heroine, though still being trompled by the Dread Rhinovirus, continues to make assorted progress around the homeplace...

The typographical infinity scarf that I have been busy for days hand rolling the edges is finally finished (girl, though insensibly fond of handwork, is not fond at all of tiny single thread stitching on springy silk); we finally got a break in the rain so I was able to get outside and photograph it, along with the stripey top. The silk chiffon scarf can also be worn doubled for a shorter cowl, which will be nice as it gets colder outside, and it is ideal for travel since it folds up to almost no space at all.

For those interested in the detailed how I made this, it was easy but tedious: the scarf was made from a half yard piece of 52" silk chiffon from Fabric Depot here in Portland, and to do a handrolled hem, I followed the instructions in this tutorial. Since the salesclerk tore the fabric on grain, all I needed to do to prep it was to carefully trim off the tiny whiskers along the torn edge a bit at a time before the handstitching... Once the two long raw edges were hemmed, I simply overlapped the selvedge ends about an eighth of an inch, and whipstitched them down on each side...

These are pieces two and three of my Autumn 4PAC/6PAC... (next up is a grey corduroy pinafore to replace the sadly missed bird pinafore, and a travel tote bag to be made up during the October SewAlong over at Stitcher's Guild)

City Farm PDX, just down the road from me a few miles, has some of their fruit trees on sale for 50% to 75% off, and I can get a 'Oullins' greengage plum tree for $6, if I can get it home! Have arranged transport with a pal with a vehicle, and have been reading up about planting, and how to and when to suitably prune said plum...This will be a good addition to the backyard, 'tis supposedly a favorite sort of plum in England and Europe, and good for both preserving and eating fresh

fingers crossed that the new batch of little pickled cucumbers will behave well (end up in the fridge and not in the compost like the last batch...) so far so good, it has been nine days and there is no mold, there is quite a bit of bubble formation, and the proto-pickles are turning a more olive color. I scalded the glass jar with boiling water this time, instead of just washing it well and I think that made a big difference.

"In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness."
~  David Foster Wallace

Thursday, October 3, 2013

lots and lots of solder dots

...sigh - over last weekend while my pals were working on cutting back the undergrowth, they also picked a bunch bucket full of the feral prune plums. On the first of October our plucky heroine started on a huge batch of spicy Chinese style plum sauce, and then between studio work that required soldering all the things, and this gorram cold, the mixture sat on the stove for three days, being boiled up once a day but not getting canned. Now there are little dots on the surface that might be mold, so it all has to go in the compost, wasting all that work and all the various ingredients. Dayum! That would have been a years worth of spicy/sweet condiment... sick girl is now verysad girl. I went to see if there are any plums left outside, but as suspected they were all blown away by the high winds and bashed to flinders on the ground...

One of my kitchen tenets is to put effort into making high-flavor condiments that can then be used to add savor to simple meals throughout the year; plum sauce takes the place of things like ketchup, and hoisin sauce, and if homemade, has no weird ingredients that require a chemistry degree to decipher, just things like tamari and garlic and vinegar and cayenne, and plums... hmmm...there might be a batch of last years plums still frozen at the bottom of the chest freezer

(sadface) dread rhinovirus is still stomping on my head...

when I was talking about soldering all the things? Well this is just a little bit of what that looks like in process, filigree takes a long time and many many steps...

lots and lots of solder dots

...and this is what all the soldering was about - a Birka style, twisted wire filigree Laurel medallion, now on the way to someone far to the south of here