Monday, December 31, 2012

Ruminations on New Year's Eve

  Ah, the joys of the holiday season.  I had to go pick up a prescription today.  The pharmacy we use is in a little center that has a Whole Foods on one end and a double-decker area with the pharmacy on the lower level and a bike store, State Store and phone store on the upper level.
   Between the Whole Foods and the State Store, the parking lot was packed.  You'd think someone had announced a moratorium on food and booze sales for the next month or so!
   I did, eventually, manage to find a parking space and pick up my prescription.

  It's snowing now.  This is the third snowfall in 7 days. The previous accumulation is about 7" deep and we could get another inch or so from the current fall.  The Hub and I shall be staying in tonight and leaving the slick roads to braver souls. Our journey home from the Philadelphia area on the 26th satisfied every longing either of us might have had for winter weather driving!  We ran into flurries about a half hour west and by the time we'd hit the 3rd service area there was a lot of accumulation and more coming down at the rate of about 1.25" per hour!  [It took us about 8.5 hours to do the trip that usually takes us 5.5.)

  I don't make New Year's resolutions.  I find them too stressful, and most of the time mine are things that should be ongoing commitments anyway.  Instead, I think about goals: goals I met in the outgoing year and those I'd like to achieve in the coming one.
   This past year I managed to get to the gym for a training session twice a week most weeks.  The weeks I didn't get there I was either out-of-town and doing a lot of walking or I was ill and made up the session when I felt better.  I've managed to drop a few pounds and tone up enough to wear a size smaller jeans.  The training sessions will continue for 2013 with an intention to make it into the gym at least 3 times each week.  I'm hopeful that LAFitness will manage to get the pool heater working consistently so I can do a pool workout every week.
    Not enough sewing was completed in 2012.  In fact, I'm not sure I actually finished a single project!
This must change.  I have so much fabric, so many patterns and so many partially-finished projects in the sewing room that it's ridiculous.  This didn't stop me from adding to my fabric/project stash while I was in San Francisco a couple weeks ago, though.  Ooooh, no.  I shopped at Britex (twice!) and came home with some really nice cotton lengths to be transformed into baby clothes (I have a new great-great nephew and a great-great-niece/nephew on the way) and enough purple dupioni with a coordinating dupioni print to make another Beverley Sheldrick designed sewing reticule.  Before I start that, though, I need to clear out a couple of convention projects.
I'm trying to decide if one older project per week is too ambitious a goal.  I suppose it will depend on what it is- a daygown goes together pretty fast, but my embroidery projects could take hundreds of hours.  I see a schedule in my future.
   Catching up with housework and then keeping on top of it is another recurring goal.  I've never been Susie Homemaker and this larger home is kicking my butt!  I've decided that one thing that would help is to streamline the amount of "stuff" in each room.  My new mantra for household shopping is "are you willing to pack that up and move it?"  If the answer is no, I pass by.  I saved about $500 just today doing that as I decided that rather than buy a couple of chests of drawers for the sewing room, I'd be better served by sewing up projects so they can go on hangers or on display on a shelf.  Quite a bit of fabric will just go away, as it is destined to become wee-care items for the next Smocking Arts convention or garments for my granddaughter.
   There will be more blogging and more photos in 2013.  I promise!  After all, I'll need photo evidence of all these things I'll be sewing, right?  There will also be some garden work to share when spring comes.  (I'm enchanted by the idea of Burpee's new container corn.  I may just grow my own Halloween decorations this year.)

May all your goals be achievable and your new year be a happy one!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Well, Hmmmmm-

I follow two blogs from V and E Historic: a pattern blog and a costuming blog.  Recently, the pattern blog seems to have been taken over by a commercial travel enterprise.  I have no interest in this, but can't figure out how to remove  it.  I also can't contact the previous owner to find out if she is aware of the situation.  When I try to access VandEHistoric Costuming, I get a message that I'm not permitted to view that blog.

In other news, my husband posted this commercial to his G+ account today, and since I have a few Kiwi readers, I had to share:     There's more information at the link, but I thought it was quite clever.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm still here!

  It's been a long summer full of lots of little tasks, but very little sewing.

  I spent last week in Atlanta, Georgia with a bunch of stitching pals at the annual SAGA convention.  I returned home all fired up to get some stitching done!  I flew down on Tuesday night so I could have Wednesday to bop around and relax.  I'd thought about taking the Atlanta tour, but was afraid I'd be worn out halfway through the day and then grumpy for the rest of the week.  Wednesday evening Peanut Butter and Jelly Kids presented a fashion show of handsewn dresses.  The models were sweet and the dresses were lovely.  I won a doorprize!  The kit has everything I need to make this little dress except for the piping and the thread!

Jane's First Day Dress courtesy of Fine Stitchery

   Thursday I took a full day class with Susie Gay where we made a beaded scissor keep.  Mine is about half done.  I just have a bit of embroidery to do, some button stitch around the tab of the tassel, cording to twist, and then I can put it together.

   Friday was  a half day class with Bobbi Chase.  We made a sweet little one-piece undergarment for a 14" doll.  I'm hoping mine will fit my Mary Frances doll.  If not, I'll have to size up the pattern a bit and make another one.  It's so easy and quick to do, even though the entire thing is hand stitched.

Fine Handsewn Undergarments by Bobbi Chase

Saturday was another full day, this time with Jeannie Baumeister.  Our project was the Drawn Thread Lace Baby Dress.  Pulling small areas of  threads on linen is very intense work!  I didn't get as far along with this as I'd hoped, but I will finish it.  This is a photo of the dress top.  A partial thread is pulled from the center front of the fabric, then the area is hemstitched, a length of lace insertion is added, and then a piece of gathered lace is stitched on.  The flowers are tiny bullion roses and lazy daisy stitches.
Check the link below for Jeannie's post on this precious little dress.

Photo used by permission of Jeannie Baumeister of the
Old Fashioned Baby

  My Sunday class was quite fun.  We learned to make buttons using small wire circles (toy wheel frames, really) , wooden button molds and thread.  I get the idea of how to make them, but had problems in class doing the spiderweb stitch.  I'm left handed- my spiderwebs were upside-down, which means my button front wasn't very pretty.  Fortunately, these are so quick that I can take my samples apart and do them over.
   The photo below is Bobbi Chase's model board for the class.

Button board for Dorset Buttons

  All in all, this was an enjoyable convention.  I didn't win a basket (again), but everybody else at my table did!  I met up with some other Pittsburgh area women and we're discussing plans for a new, official chapter in Allegheny County.  Both flights were quick and uneventful, just the way I like them. 
  I'm already looking forward to next year's convention in Frisco, Texas.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cat Wars, Day 500+; Detente?

  Bes was playing with a little catnip bird that somehow wound up in my shoe.  Loki noticed him and wandered over to see what Bes had good that Loki didn't have.  He sniffed Bes' head, Bes reared back, then relaxed and they rubbed noses, then Loki wandered off.  No hissing, no biting, no smacking, and so far no spraying.
  Can the zombie apocalypse be far away?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

garden update

  As I read my various usual blogs, I notice that many of us seem to be having trouble with allergies this year.  Yup, me too.  I love looking at all the blooming things, but breathing seems less joyful.   We've had a lot of rain over the past few days.  I hope this will wash much of the pollen out of the air, but I fear it will  just encourage more blooming and sneezing!

   The days before the rains came in my husband and I managed to trim the lawn and rake out dead things from the front growth area.  We also purchased a small raised bed unit and I put a coat of marine varnish on the boards for a bespoke custom-made herb bed I ordered last year.  They need two more coats for exterior use, so it will be another week before that can be assembled, filled and planted.

   It all seems to take so much time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A dirty world

Today, there is  topsoil, mulch and compost.   Somehow, this doesn't look like as much as it sounded like it would be.  It's supposed to be 3 cubic yards.  I've also got a cubic yard each of the mulch and compost, and that pile is about the same size as this.  Good thing it was cheap.
  Time to put on my shoes and go move some of this stuff around a bit.  It will be interesting to see how much I get done as I've not slept since yesterday morning.

  Answer: not much.  As suspected, the base soil, aka "the yard" is about 1/2 inch of poor clay soil on top of fill dirt and gravel.  I can't even get a garden fork in more than a couple of inches.  It's off to the hardware store for some landscape picks so I can pin down black plastic to kill off weeds and grass, and some shallow pots to plant flowers in until the soil loosens up some.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

  Today I took cat #3, Kali, to the vet.  She usually runs as far as possible when she sees the cat carrier come out, but today she just made a token escape effort, then sat down in patient resignation.  Poor kitty.
   She lucked out.  Our vet doesn't give cats boosters will-he nil-he, so she didn't need a Feline Leukemia, parvo or distemper shot.  (She's strictly an indoor cat).   We also discussed how the 'old' cats aren't integrating well with the addition of Bes, the 'new' cat.  We've had him for 14 months now, and Kali still can't stand him.  The past few weeks, though, she's been venturing downstairs more often, and has even come up onto my lap when Bes is also on the sofa.  It seems that our using the same brush on all three of their faces serves to spread the pheromones around and sort of acclimate the cats to each other's smells, according to a recent study.  
  Another study has shown that if you put cats in separate areas for 8 hours (such as overnight), they have to sort of re-familiarize themselves with each other at the end of the separation, and some degree of aggression may lessen.  I think I may encourage Bes to sleep on a t-shirt or the like which I'll then put down near where Kali likes to nest at night.

  In sewing  news, there isn't any.  I've hardly been up to the sewing room for a month other than to sort some books and magazines.  I haven't even been tempted by any new patterns or kits recently!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Reads

  Today I received my copy of Trish Burr's  Colour Confidence in Embroidery.  It's a gift from my father-in-law.
  Pity I don't have a lot of time to sit and read it today, but I'll get into it soon and post a review later.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review - Home Sweet Home

  I love projects!  I love to plan them, to pick out the materials and threads and find the frames.  If I had as much enthusiasm for stitching the things as I do for buying them, I would have no empty wall space!

  A few weeks ago I purchased a new project book from Country Bumpkin.  It's called Home Sweet Home
and is a delightful sewing box in the shape of a country cottage.  Worked in various threads and stitches on linen and lined with a pretty print, the box's roof opens to reveal a treasury of handworked tools including an emery, a needlebook and a tape measure cover among others.  (The second link will take you to the catalog page which has a link to a video slideshow of the box and most of the tools.)
   The author, Carolyn Pearce, has done a good job with the instructions for both the box and the embroidery.  As is usual with Country Bumpkin publications, the photographs are wonderful.  Small illustrations of related motifs such as strawberry plants, insects and animals are scattered among the pages as well, which makes the book a pretty one to page through even if one is not an embroiderer.

   What's that I hear you asking?  What about the Gentleman's Nightcap?  Well, I've been involved in painting rooms and just haven't got up to the sewing room lately.  The tiny  motifs of the cap are difficult to stitch with the rather thick Gilt Sylke Twist, and this has made me a bit wary.  I shall, however, get back to it soon.  Now that we're getting a bit more sunny weather I'll be able to stitch without having to fiddle with lighting and I'm hoping that makes things go a bit easier.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two colors?

  Got going on the painting yesterday.  I got all the hardware removed from the bathroom walls, wiped down the baseboards and trim edges to prevent cat hair (sort of) and masked off the edges and the division between upper and lower colors.
   The aqua went on wonderfully.  I will be using this Behr Premium Plus again.  It's a little spendy, but it goes on very smoothly and really does cover in just one coat.  Once that was dried a bit I started painting with the not-quite-white.  I spent ages sorting through various whites at the paint store, looking for one that was pretty much white, but not completely titanium white, with a little bit of warmth to it.  The one I decided on turns out to be the exact same shade as the primer coat the builders used!  I wish I could have that sort of luck when I'm actually trying to match colors.

Here you can see the aqua paint and both colors on the upper wall.  (the one on the right is the new application.)


Seriously, how close is this match?  There's no way I'd have been able to do this if I'd actually needed to!

Today's project will be the front foyer, followed by giving the master bathroom a good scrubdown before I slather those walls with paint.  (It will not match the primer coat already on the walls.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's looking fishy

  The teenager made it through the night in the general population, but I'm not seeing any sign of the new
fry in the tank.  This, of course, doesn't mean much.  It's probably hiding from all those big fish with big appetites (especially the betta).
  We're having some high winds here today.  I guess there's a front moving in from the upper midwest as we're supposed to drop about 20 degrees and get some snow this evening.  No wonder I haven't seen any more robins around.
  The exercises I did at the gym yesterday have given me a muscle tension "migraine".  I don't know if wielding a paint roller is going to help stretch them out, or if it will exacerbate things. I guess I'll know tomorrow!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New kid on the block

  My baby fish is two months old now, so I decided to release him into the general aquarium population.  He's big enough and fast enough to avoid being eaten, I think.  Imagine my surprise to find a new fry in the tank!  I quickly turfed out the big un and tried to snag the newborn, but that little sucker is fast.  I did manage to scoop mama fish up in a net and pop her into the fry tank, hoping to see the miracle of birth.  So far, all I've seen is the miracle of poopin'.  Meanwhile, the fry is managing to avoid becoming dinner by snugging himself down between bits of aquarium gravel.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Time Flies

  It seems to have been a couple months since I posted anything.
   The baby fish is big enough to be turfed in with the general adult population.
   My cats have started getting along somewhat better: the two males have even been spotted playing together nicely on occasion.  Miracles do occur!
   Little in the way of sewing or gardening has been going on.  It's been too darn cold to play outside, plus there's a chance we might have to relocate so I'm not thrilled with the idea of putting in a garden for someone else to harvest.  Cheap and cheerful is likely to be the main theme of any planting.  
   I've started on an Elizabethan embroidery project that uses Gilt Sylke threads.  They're a little more awkward to stitch with than thread that doesn't have metal in it (understandably), but the results are very pretty.  This has been put aside for a while so I can finish painting the house, though.  If we need to sell it, it should probably have actual paint on all the walls rather than just basecoat.  *sigh*  So long, pretty colors, hello neutrals.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

  The kit for the cute dress I was thinking about ordering is already sold out.
I guess I can cross that off my list!  How fortunate that I still have a multitude of things
to choose from up in the sewing room.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Happy New Year to All!

  I don't make new year's resolutions as such, but I do tend to think over things I've done the previous year and how I would like to improve or reduce them.  I have a load of stash fabric, unfinished (and unstarted!) kits from previous years that I would like to finish and display, and collections of things to make garments for my granddaughter, many of which she's grown out of already.  Besides sewing, I've also got various embroidery and cross-stitch projects and some beading kits.  
  Why then, knowing I have All These Things already in my house, did I wake up this morning designing a shirt for my husband in my head?  Not a simple shirt, either...  [he reads this, so I can't go in to more detail, but be assured it's got stitching and beads and hand-made buttons on it, so far.]
  I logged on to my computer to do my daily reading, and in the newsletters I receive, I've already fallen in love with three kits.  One is for a crewel wool design and I'm pretty sure I would never work it, so that is at least off my Lust List.  The others, though, are just too cute.  One is a little pincushion which was featured in the Wooly Thread Newsletter.
The other is a kit from Martha Pullen Company and is a cute dress that I think Madison would love.
  OH, The Temptation!
For now I am holding strong.  I'll write down the ideas for the shirt so I can work it up in the future, but I won't buy the fabric yet.  It's a holiday type shirt, anyway, so no big rush.  In the meantime, I can stitch up a couple of shirts that are already languishing in pieces in the sewing room so the man can wear them.
The little pincushion... I added that to my Amazon wish list.  If it's still available when I'm ready to work it, I can buy it then.  If not, I'll consider it Not Meant To Be.
  That little dress is going to take a bit more thought, though.  It's stinkin' cute,  for starters.  The style isn't like Every Dress at Walmart,  the fabrics are high quality cottons,  and the child is getting close to the age of being too big for a birthday dress.  (If I bought it now and whipped it out quickly, it would also work for Valentine's Day)  [big if; I've met me.]  [[But my goal is to stop procrastinating...]]
   I guess I'm looking forward to a busy 2012 replete with finished "vintage" projects.

In other news, when we returned from our Annual Christmas Pilgrimage to my son's house I discovered that one of my mollys had given birth to a teensy little fishlet.  The guy at the fish store said there were probably more than one to begin with.  Small Fry is now residing in a fish breeding cage in the aquarium to keep hungry adult from mistaking it for lunch.  S/he was about 3 mm long when I discovered it and is now double that.  Like human babies, they grow quickly.