Tuesday, March 21, 2017

glorious mud


in which our plucky heroine gets her hands dirty...

I signed up for a just for fun, free, Beginning Ceramics workshop series at the library, 5 short sessions of making things from clay, a crafty medium I last played with as a child. Definitely outside my comfort zone and skill set. (usually the art workshops at the library are one afternoon, not five, and usually more "dry" media, like origami, or book arts, or knitting groups)

A dozen pottery buttons (the raw clay showing the texture of the canvas we rolled the clay out on, yet to be fired and painted) might be a really fun addition to my wardrobe in the future...
This is an experiment, as I have no idea if they will even prove durable enough for use after they are fired, but it would be so nifty to have buttons I made on a sweater or cardigan jacket I made.

I was inspired by some beautifully funky pottery I saw on the internet; this odd little sculptural form will hopefully become a tiny clay flower holder. The pieces in these three photos are my efforts from the three class sessions we have had so far.

Next week we get to paint underglaze on everything we have made so far (which will have been bisque fired in the interim), and the final class, in April, we get it all back, fired again to set the color and with a shiny clear glaze over it all, and will talk about it.

and... as an appropriate soundtrack, an old favorite:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday media etc


in which our plucky heroine improves slowly...

Here is a thoughtful and visually beautiful bit of media:
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So slowly, I began to regain some energy, some tiny modicum of enthusiasm. Instead of dragging through the days, desperate for an afternoon nap, I make it through 'til evening and cook an actual supper instead of just simply opening a box of soup.

Does this correlate with the lengthening daylight, or as is more likely, with the clever ministrations of my beloved acupuncturist doing her best to encourage my immune system to wake up and do what needs to be done. Difficult to be feeling cheerful when within the last week one good friend had a stroke, and two others were diagnosed with cancer. Grateful for my five years as a survivor, and hoping for the same for those dear to me.
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Stitchy stitchy stitch... the other hemp knit top is finished, and has been washed and worn again twice. I am liking the slightly rough linen-y texture, and just delighted with the narrow dark grey/pale blue stripes. Very narrow stripes are now going on the list as one of my fashion basics; I loved the only striped knit I had previously, and I hardly want to take this one off, I like it so much.
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And should all this be too serious, and something just plain silly called for, here is a very silly bit of media nonsense:

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions planted-
2 2 stencils x-
3 black/cream knit top x x
4 grey/blue knit top x x
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 - x x
8 - x x
9 - x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x

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Friday, March 17, 2017

delectable stripes


in which our plucky heroine continues making progress on a renewed wardrobe...

Today's project is working on my second knit top, this one made from striped hemp jersey, which is behaving much more cooperatively than the marled hemp jersey did. Narrow 1/8" stripes of charcoal grey and a very pale blue will coordinate well with all my pinafores.

At this point in time, once this basic top is complete, if I get three more garments finished I will meet my minimum goal of meeting the requirements for SWAP 2017. If I finish those three by the end of March, I have a whole month (all of April) to do something a bit more intensive/spectacular, which is my hope. I really want to make the Alabama Chanin style cardigan that is currently taking up a big spot in my visual imagination, and that would be a most useful springtime layer.

Finished the hand-stitched neckline binding tonight, just need to do the same to the cuff edges, and hem the bottom edge, and it will be finished. For this one, my aim is a very basic wardrobe component, not highly elaborated, but with the visible hand stitching being a subtle embellishement. Given how much I wear my black/grey striped cotton turtleneck, a new stripey cool weather top, in a slightly different colorway and style, will surely become a wardrobe staple.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday thoughts


in which our plucky heroine enjoys the softer spring weather...

Last week I managed to get green onions planted in the upright planter just off the front porch. It is easy to start new plants by simply cutting the bottom inch or two off a grocery store bunch and planting them out one at a time. By doing this, one or two bunches of green onions can be kept growing, if not indefinitely, at the very least for close to a year or more, increasing allium self-sufficiency.

The beautiful planter box is all made from salvage: it involved some leftover pieces of cedar fencing and some 2x lumber. The bottom is the galvanised mesh you can just see bent up in the front, and the box is lined with fiberglass screening which keeps the dirt in and lets the water drain freely. The tall wooden legs rest on leftover bits of stone or brick to level the planter just under the drip edge of the porch roof.

Currently, a wodge of bird netting is draped over the planter box (visible as sparkley mesh in photo) to keep rogue squirrels from destroying my planting. I will have to think about what will serve well as the little green onions grow taller.
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The snowdrops are almost ended for the year, and their place in my heart is now filled with the small white violets, the next spring blossom here. There are some in the front garden bed, and small clumps mixed into the front lawn, which every year I mean to dig up and move into other garden beds, and always forget to...
When I went to put the hens to bed tonight, I noticed that there was just the tiniest hint of green on the apple tree in the back yard. Maybe this year I can acquire another fruit tree for the back yard, maybe a quince, or a pear to replace the one I lost...
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My black/cream marled hemp knit top is finished. I was hand stitching down the hemline when I noticed this scrap from cutting out the pieces was all curled up into a cord, just like they describe in the third Alabama Chanin book. I decided that it would be a good addition to the neckline, just a tiny bit more embellishment, really quick to stitch into place.
It's basically a very simple "reads as grey" knit top, and is quite comfortable to wear. The hemp knit is surprisingly warm for how thin it is. I am giving up on my initial idea to overdye it a medium brown, since as is it fits in well with the current swap, as well as under all my other pinafores.
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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore green onions planted-
2 2 stencils x-
3 black/cream knit top x x
4 - x x
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 - x x
8 - x x
9 - x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Grrrr... Jersey can go to the hot place


in which our plucky heroine dislikes some fabric...

While I love the ease of wearing knit tops, some knit fabrics are more amenable than others to work with. I enjoy sewing with ribbed knits, as the structure of the ribbing means that they fabric lays flat. I only used ponte* once, on a vest for my Mom, but it too was easy to work with, since it is a double knit and very stable. The most annoying knit fabric to work with is jersey, since it is a single knit, it wants to curl. This is a function of the structure of single knitting, whether in the form of fabric, or in knitting with wool by hand, where single knitting is called stockinette stitch.

Last week I started in on a simple black/cream marled hemp knit top. This fabric has an interesting visual texture and is a lightweight knit. My thought was that it would be an appropriate layering garment for winter, as well as being good on it's own in the transitional seasons. However, the cussed fabric rolls on every cut edge, and not just a little curl, but it will happily roll up several inches or more. This makes it rather quite annoying to work with. Nonetheless, I manage to get the main pieces serged together...

Somehow when I then foolishly serged the neckline binding in place, (rather than basting and stitching, I inadvertently stretched the neckline, which looks unattractive, as it makes the binding stick out rather than lay neatly flat. I had to remove the binding, cutting off the serged stitched portion, that will make the neckline larger, which is not the look I want.

A larger and wider neckline opening can be filled with a floppy cowl, or can become a wide deep scoop necklines, or in this case, I created kind of double facing, and sandwiched the cut opening between two pieces. Extending the neckline edge inwards on the double facing pattern pieces I created restored the original neckline. Yay! I think that the hand stitchery is a nice rustic detail on a pretty basic long sleeve knit top.

I had been trying to avoid starching the knit fabric, but it is unavoidable; there is no way to deal with the edges of the fabric otherwise. Those applied cuffs would literally curl into what looked like a heavy cord, were they not starched prior to my working with them, as would that tidy looking neckline facing, and that would make stitching them in place rather difficult. Heavy starch makes working with the curling jersey fabric a lot easier, rendering it almost as stiff as quilting cotton, but it takes time to do, requiring multiple applications of starch, makes a mess of the ironing board and of the surface of the iron.
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despite the snow this morning, there are definitely more signs of springtime every day. The days are getting longer, if not a lot warmer (yet). One or two eggs each day from the goofy hens. Many yards with sweet crocus blossoms, which reminds me... need to get self to a garden store and get some pea seeds,, because it's time!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine makes ragged progress...

springtime is on the way - the hellebore flowers are such a pretty sign of the changing seasons... I really would love it if my front garden could have some of the speckled ones, and the greenish white ones, as well as these pink flowers on the single hellebore in my garden..

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Cutting the new stencil - I decided that a new Alabama Chanin style cardigan would be a good wardrobe addition. That means some new stencils, since I get bored with using the same designs, and I like creating or choosing motifs just a little different than what is commonly seen. I am trying out this new mylar from the art store that opened up a few blocks from here, and hoping it is not too thin to work well, since it is thin enough that it is really easy to cut!... I'll be doing some trial stenciling first, before starting in on my actual garment fabric. For the striped sleeves, I can just lay out strips of masking tape, which is even easier than using a cut stencil.

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My new pinafore - grey corduroy, worn here with a teal batik stripe everyday dress (also new this year, but not for SWAP). This pinafore will be a good transition piece into spring; the darker colors seem more wintery to me, but this one will coordinate with future blouses and everyday dresses in paler colors. I have some striped grey and white set aside for a springtime dress, and some fun conversational prints for once I get a TNT blouse pattern.

Really, the hemline is level, but the camera lens makes it look very lopsided. I am enjoying stitching up my "sewing kits", and dividing up the cutting out from the sewing up seems to work well. I enjoy sewing, but really dislike cutting out for some reason...

Now I need to focus on getting the knitwear components cut out, two new tops, two pairs of petticoat pants, and then the pieces for the reverse applique shirt jacket. Once all of those "kits" are prepared, I can return to the fun of adding new garments to the wardrobe.
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Something to listen to - pick up a teacup and take a moment...

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March SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 grey pinafore x-
2 2 stencils x-
3 - x x
4 - x x
5 -x x
6 - x x
7 - x x
8 - x x
9 - x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

revising the SWAP


In which our plucky heroine finally has a tiny bit of spare energy...

I have been sick since January, and most all of my vocation and avocation has fallen to the wayside. Currently working on the grey corduroy pinafore a few minutes at a time, since it was already cut out. Sewing already cut out "sewing kits" takes less brain power than cutting out new ones. Cutting fabric, like running the torch, or the kiln, or cutting metal, needs full brain/body function. Sewing a TNT pattern that has no surprise technical challenge, not quite as high on the food chain. The grey pinafore will be done in another day or two still needs the bodice and skirt attached together, and all the raw edges bound, as well as an additional layer of trim binding to help stabilise and decorate the hemline. That technique worked really well on the brown twill pinafore, and I may just start adding it into most of my sewing in one way or another.
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Have been doing some more thinking about my 2017 SWAP components, and playing mix-n-match using post-it notes. The necessary bottom garments, which I have christened "petticoat pants" have been recalcitrant to be integrated (technically they do coordinate, but when I try and visualise the "outfit" they just seem irreleveant) I suspect that once I actually sew them, that they will prove every useful in the still cold weather we have currently...

I decided that a narrow band of stenciling along their hemline edges will help them coordinate better with the rest of my clothing. The blue one will get a brown stenciled border, and the brown one will get a black stenciled border; nothing fancy, but will likely help them coordinate with the tops and pinafores, and will also help me feel a little more enthused about working on them.
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Have also an fun idea for an Alabama Chanin style cardigan jacket that I want to start working on. More cardigans and light jackets will be a great addition to my wardrobe. Blue top layer, brown under layer, black stenciling, grey stitching. Floral motifs on the body, and striped sleeves... vaguely inspired by this Gudrun Sjoden sweater, but in my low contrast dark value colors instead. If I can manage to finish this by end of SWAP, I will use it in place of my cave horse shirt jacket, thereby freeing up the "previously sewn" category to be used in either the tops or the pinafores probably for the black/cream floral woven top I made back in 2013, which will coordinate beautifully with the grey, the brown, or the black/cream pinafores