Saturday, June 4, 2022

A long Friday


I had to get up very early (for me) today as the washing machine repairman was expected at around 8 am.  

He appeared at 7:59 and was out the door by 8:30, and my machine now has a shiny new belt and a clean drum.  Gosh, just can't wait to do some laundry!  (sarcasm)

I located some 32 ct linen at a local needlework shop- after searching the internets to no avail , I finally manage to find some within driving distance. The shop is only open from 10-2 4 days a week, so wasn't high on my radar but I phoned them on the off chance they might have linen in stock.  I suspect that as well as my fabric, I'll return home with some beads and fancy threads. Bee Hive Needle Arts specializes in counted canvas, so they carry threads and ribbons from all the best places.  I'd visit more often, but our schedules usually conflict with their opening hours, and it's a half-hour drive or so away; with the lead pipe remediation going on in Pittsburgh it can take an hour!  

  Progress is being made on the things I'll need for the upcoming retreat.  My muslin is all washed and ready for me to cut out a Verdun woven t-shirt.  The pattern has been glued and taped together, so that's ready to go as well, although I'll be tracing my size on to swedish pattern paper.  It's easier to work with than printer paper.   I haven't figured out what sort of fabric I want to make the Actual Shirt from yet.  

   The previously mentioned linen has been found, so I can make up kits for the little drawn thread bag. I suppose I should pull together the sewing supplies I'll need, too, just in case something has disappeared in the black hole that is my sewing room. 

   Speaking of that, if you were a length of pleated linen with about 4" of smocking done on it, where would you hide?  I took a class at convention last year for a pleatwork tunic. I've located the extra fabric from the kit, but can't find the actual tunic and instructions from the class.  It's here somewhere; I probably put it somewhere safe.  Perhaps I'll check the suitcase I used...

Friday, May 27, 2022

Still here!


It seems I've taken a bit of a blog vacation.  With Covid still rampaging around Pittsburgh, nothing much has been happening that is worth blogging about.  The man and I mostly hunkered down at home with a few masked forays to a local diner that we felt fairly comfortable about.  I've been going to the gym twice a week most weeks since I started up again in February, after taking off a month during a fairly high-numbers period. 

I've done a bit of re-organizing in the sewing room.  Unfortunately, it has just been enough to reveal exactly how much needs to be done.  I try to spend an hour a day up there, but arthritis in my knees has been preventing me from climbing the stairs every day.   

My age and physical condition have become those which encourage downsizing, so the husband and I have been looking at properties that are either all on one floor or that have a finished basement area that could be reached by installing a lift/elevator. One house we looked at was quite nice (although older than the hubby would like, having been built in the year I was born).  When we came to the basement door, I looked down those stairs, said, "Nope. That's not going to happen", and turned around. They were quite steep and narrow.  We'll probably go back to planning to build a home in a newer development.

Other than the sorting, nothing constructive has been happening in the sewing room.  I made a bonnet a while ago while participating in a sew-along from my Facebook Smocking Arts group.  That turned out well!  Of course, I can't find a photo of it to post.  It was completely hand-stitched, so I did it in the dining room. 😺

My chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild has planned a three day mini-retreat at an area hotel, and I'm looking forward to that.  We plan to make a small hemstitched bag, a joined lace bonnet and start work on a woven t-shirt.  The pattern is Verdun, from Liesl and Co,  and we'll (allegedly) be arriving with a muslin that we can work on together so we each get a perfect fit.  It will be my first foray into adjusting a pattern properly, so I'm excited.    

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Don't Linger, 2021


Here we are on the brink of another new year. 

Remember last year, when we were sure that the Covid protocols would soon be a think of the past and that 2021 would be a great year?  So do I.  Perhaps 2022 actually will be better.

Things that got accomplished this year:

     We had a fence built across the back property line.  I am enjoying the increased privacy it gives us, and still planning some sort of floral display for it.  The area gets a lot of shade during the summer because there is a maple tree and a linden tree between in and most of the sun.  I've been looking at shade-loving perennial ground covers that don't need to be mowed as well as flowers.

   I hired someone to pull the weeds from all the garden beds in the yard.  This is a project that has been weighing on me for two years.  I feel that I should be able to do it myself, but... I can't get on my hands and knees to pull weeds, I can't bend for long, weather that is too hot or too cold will trigger a fibro flare, and I'm highly allergic to poison ivy. Given all that, I gave in and hired someone.  The beds all look pretty good now, and are ready for me to poke some bulbs in here and there. 

    We installed two 4x8' galvanized metal raised beds.  Three square meters of soil was not enough to fill one, so between that and my health being somewhat iffy, not much got planted.  I'm already looking through the seed catalogs for delicious things to plant. 

   My husband gifted me with a Viking/Husqvarna Sapphire 85 in October.  I have named her Sofia (pronounce soFYEah) and installed her in the north sewing room. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the room is in disarray, so I've not done much with her than turn her on, hook her to the web and read through some information on the JoyOS that comes with her.    

   Of course, projects in the sewing room, otherwise known as The Pit of Despair, are mounting up like snow in Tahoe.  Besides masks, I've also got a couple more dresses and two quilts lined up.  Quilts.  I saw one I fell in love with on CatPatches, ordered the pattern, started collecting fabrics (it takes about a thousand yards) and promptly became overwhelmed when I read the instructions.  It has no deadline, so that's all right.  It's called Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage, and is available from Crabapple Hill designs.  The other quilt is also from Meg Hawkey at Crabapple Hill.  It's a block of the month in a halloween theme.  I've purchased the base fabric, several black and white prints for the paper piecing and the Black Cat block instructions.   I'm very good at collecting supplies.  This also doesn't have a deadline. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Not Quite Spring Enough


   It's been chilly here in the wilds of urban Pittsburgh, so nothing has been planted in my new raised beds.

Tomorrow I plan to sprinkle some seeds on the soil on the north/alley side of the new fence, just to keep the weeds down.  When the overnight temps have warmed up a bit more I'll plant some heuchera and some small variety hostas back there interspersed with vinca and some impatiens for color.  I have lily of the valley and some snowdrops to go in there, too.  People walk their dogs along that alleyway, and I don't really want to plant much that takes a lot of work to maintain, but I want it to look nice.  

There has been progress made in the sewing rooms!  Hubby carried my unused desk down to my "
office" for me and cleared up about 10 square feet of floor space.  I spent a few hours vacuuming and  putting various bits of clutter away in their proper places.  The room still looks like the remains of a tornado strike, but the basic idea of what it's supposed to look like is emerging.  (We shall not speak of what the other room looks like,  I literally can't get in to it because I shoved a couple of things into the doorway so Hubby could get through with the desk.)

  My smocking chapter is gearing up for a little midweek retreat and I've been spending time pulling threads in linen to make nicely edged fabric blanks for our project.  I'd bought a yard from one of the big-name fabric and craft stores that took me nearly 4 hours to pull 3 threads! Four HOURS!  The linen threads were not tightly spun and kept fraying and breaking, so I had to dig around to find the loose end about every two inches.  The other yardage I had came from and it took me less than 45 minutes to do the first two thread pulls.  I ordered more so I can replace the Bad Linen.  I did come up with one handy thing: using a fine crochet hook to grab broken threads is a lot easier than trying to pry the thread up with a needle.  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Garden Day


The past two days were sunny and mild, so the ground is thawed out enough to be workable.  This afternoon I'll be attempting to de-root some new crown vetch growth in the front-side bed that took me days to weed last fall.  If that doesn't wear me out I'll do a bit of rototilling in the back yard.  Phil put together one of the new galvanized steel raised beds I've bought to replace the breaking and rotting wooden ones.  The new beds are a foot deep as compared to the 6" of the previous ones: I may have to buy some new soil to fill them up as the existing soil has compacted a bit.  Tilling will fluff it up some, but not enough.  

The trees here are greening up nicely.  My forsythia have tiny buds ready to bloom, and the lilac has also started to produce some buds.  I'm looking forward to seeing that lilac bloom this year.  (I do wish we had a window or two on the east side of the house!) I pretty much missed it last year as I forgot I had it! 

Once the rest of the weeds have been cleared from that bed I'll be adding some tulip and crocs bulbs, sprinkling alyssum  and wildflower seed in an attempt to crowd out the weeds, and planting a few leeks, scallions and basil just to make things interesting. 

The mint bed, which is supposed to have several varieties of herb, is a mess.  I've been contemplating moving the blue hydrangea from a shady corner of the yard into the center area.  It will get more sun and be more visible there.  It certainly isn't too happy where it's currently planted! 

A New Fence


We've been having a landscapey week.

   After several years of dithering, we've gotten around to having a fence put up along the back property line.  Someone has been yanking out the little ornamental fence we'd installed and cutting through the yard, so it was time to get something more robust.

   I chose a shadow box style as it will still let light and the breeze through but provide a good deal of privacy.  I asked for a full-slat spacing; once about half the boards were up I realized that was far too wide.

   The next day the guys had to remove all the slats and respace them before they finished the rest of the fence. 

  One of our contractors (M) was a landscaper for years and suggested we level the soil in the yard rather than vary the fence slat length. That would, of course, be the more long-term solution to the problem of our crooked yard, but I thought it would be too time-consuming and expensive.  

   I ordered two tons of soil.  (For reference, one ton is about 20 cubic feet; the new garden beds  -that silver thing in the image above- are 18cf each.)  On Thursday, The Hubby did a lot of wheelbarrowing and dumped about a ton of the pile along the fence line and raked it out a bit, then used most of the rest to fill one of my new garden beds after I rototilled the existing soil.  On Friday, M spread the fence line smooth and graded it nicely while J built the gate, then the two of them installed the gate.  I think it looks quite nice, but as you can see by the space between the ground and the fence, I'm going to need to order another couple tons of soil! 

I've been wanting to level out the area between the garage and the higher portion of the yard since we moved here. I guess it is now That Time. It means learning how to install a French Drain, and of course,YouTube makes that look really simple.  I do not believe it. 


   I'm pondering whether to make a sort of rustic corduroy pathway from railroad ties or 4x4s to run over the drain from the gate to the back porch, or whether to use large stepping stones with a gravel fill and densely planted Roman Chamomile. 

   Today, we're getting a nice soaking rain that should help to settle and sprout the grass seed

Saturday, January 23, 2021

First sign of Spring?


I was sitting at my dining room table reading when suddenly I heard a "chip!  Chip!!" outside the window. 

"That sounds like a robin", I thought, so I got up to look.

Sure enough, there was a robin in the flower bed.  He currently seems to be having a territory war with a mockingbird. I feel like doing a Sybil Ludington and racing around the neighborhood yelling "the redbreasts are coming, the redbreasts are coming", but Covid precautions make that a little irresponsible.  Instead, I shall sit here enjoying the continuing "chip"s of the harbinger in my garden.