Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

You look marvelous!

And to everyone else, having a birthday or not, Happy New Year!

Parting short: Faithful Charlotte, distinguished and proper.

Monday, December 26, 2011

In the Nick of Time

It's no secret that this has been the driest winter so far in these parts in recorded history. And Gene is taking full credit for it. Why you ask? Well, the shelter. It seems that the moment it became usable it started to snow, literally. And as DH pointed out, the universe provided good weather while he was "in process" and it all changed once he no longer needed it. So, there you have it, the fence came down between paddock and shelter as the first snow flakes were flying. Later it all changed to freezing rain and then stopped.

The horses are mixed in their reviews so far. Dandy ( red butt), who loves going for trailer rides and such walked right in, Cooper (spotty bottom) followed but Nick, was completely unsure about the whole thing. They will have a couple of days to get use to them, new feeders and such and then we'll get the guards up in the fronts of the stalls. Come spring the eaves will be closed in and the whole building will get metal siding. This whole project turned into MUCH more than just moving the existing shelter. This new shed row barn got a proper foundation poured with rebar, all new sheathing, good solid footing and of course divided stalls. A whole heap of work compared to just 3 sides and a roof. Building for large animals is time consuming. Safety is always a concern. These stalls are narrow and long so the dividers had to be sturdy and solid. Gene came up with a solution to the higher portion of the divider. I didn't want any horse to be able to reach over and nip at it's barn mate, but I wanted them to have full view of their buddies. We're trying this snow fencing. Plastic, breaks easily but provides a barrier and of course the holes are small. I liked it better than wire ( and the resulting types of needed attachments), and it was a lot less expensive too. We'll see how it works. This barn will only be used in bad weather and at that only for overnights and of course for the occasional sick horse since it does have a small paddock area that can be gated off from the large pasture. Picture could have been better, but I had turkey that was just pulled from the oven before feeding and gravy and mashed potatoes that needed to be attended to.

I hope everyone had a great holiday, full of memories and fun.
We had a lovely Christmas. Good food, lots of opportunity to talk with family and friends ( and each other!), far away. Gifts that ran the gamut of useful, useless but awfully fun, needed and coveted. Gifts sent were well received and one of the best gifts of all, the outfit I made my Mother fit! Whew.

Black corduroy pants and a black and white top. Both made from patterns I tailored down. Pants are from the much loved Sewing Workshop Trio pattern and the top is Indygo Junction's Cowl Neck Shift.
A pattern that is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I added these fun and rather silly labels.

I managed to look presentable Christmas morning in a new housecoat.

My first attempt at a fully lined garment ever. Heck it was my first attempt at any lined garment, full or not. Being a first run through I could have done better in some areas, but all in all I'm happy with my first effort at linings.

In process Gene thought it looked like a choir robe! I have to admit, it did a little. Now, it's a bit dowdy but oh, so comfortable and much nicer than grubby old over sized sweatshirts. I haven't had a proper robe in years.

Parting shot: Robin

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Wisdom of the Holidays

I suspect you are expecting some wonderful reflective Christmas eve post. Forget about it! This is wisdom I've culled over the years and let's face it, Solomon I ain't.

1. Gifting anything with a cord should only be done if that item is specifically on a list.
Just because someone says near or during the holidays, "wouldn't it be fun to have a waffle iron" or "Honey, the vacuum seems to be sounding a little sick." does NOT mean they want to have it appear under the tree. And a dust buster is NEVER going to end up on some one's list. Trust me.

1A. Multiples. Often the same gift is purchased for members of any given family. Two kids wanting the same toy, etc. Please, make it different in some way from the other,
be it color or style etc. That goes for the toys too. If one breaks and they are different, at least you'll know who's it was, not who's they SAY it was. ;)

2. Cash. To give or not to give. I personally like cash, but only from family. From friends, keep it cheap, fun and put something of yourself in it. Family, I know enough about all of you, cash is fine.

3. Tree decorating. Enjoy, don't stress and drink only enough to make the job go quickly. Avoid a Christmas morning hangover. ( We always put up our tree on Christmas eve).

3A. Baling twine, it's not just for hay any more! All trees, especially those in households with dogs, cat's, ferrets or children can benefit by tying their tree to something solid, like the wall or the ceiling. Trust me on this, I know.

3B. The tree looks just fine with only the top half decorated! Fido and Felix can sniff and such to their hearts content the lower branches without an emergency trip to the vet for that ornament or hook.

4. Christmas Eve company. Avoid a morning hangover even if the champagne is free.
Hors d'Oeuvres are not considered "putting something in your stomach before drinking" unless of course, you eat them all. It is Christmas so sharing is expected.

5. This is the one that has always been the hardest for me to swallow. Not everyone wants to get up at the crack of dawn to open gifts! Can you believe that???
(Maybe they didn't know about items 3 & 4.) Even if it's a lump of coal, it's still Christmas, there is still magic and by god, there likely is something wrapped up under that tree that hasn't been guessed at yet.

6. Give a little locally. Shelters, rescues, food banks are all feeling the pinch this year
big time. In most cases these are gifts that go directly to those in need. Do it, you'll feel so much better about yourself and the world. Even Ebenezer figured this one out!

That's it for the collective wisdom.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, kept just how they wish.

Parting Shots. Stealth Terrier Undercover!

And she gets so insulted when you accidentally sit on her!

Friday, December 23, 2011

And Then...I Came To My Senses

I wanted to title this, "Like a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist" but it was too long and I doubt anyone would remember the line from Firesign Theater. You think they have CD's of them out? "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers" possibly?

To the subject at hand it was my pairing of a particularly technical pattern with a hard to work with fabric. In other words, what WAS I thinking. I had my doubts looking at the envelope but it wasn't until I opened the tissue out and saw just how dang complicated it was.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it in the silk velvet. A skilled seamstress of course could, but me, no. A better pairing for the silk velvet and funky lace/jersey slashed hand-dyed fabric was a simple pattern that let the fabric be beautiful all on it's own without a lot of manipulation from me and I had just the pattern. So, two days later a holiday top is done and ready. Bring on the New Year.

This is Lisette-Simplicity pattern 2059 and I have to say, it's a nicely done pattern and it made dealing with the fabric almost a pleasure.

I added the velvet pouch pockets and I would like to try this pattern in a stable textured knit. I think it would work.

It took a while but 2011 Christmas book did find me at last. In actuality, two found me at once but Brian Selznick's "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" won out.

The story set in a train station in Paris was just too hard to resist (the other has gone on my short list for the future), as were the illustrations.

So beautiful and they tell the story in numerous pages between the text. Love the black pages, it gives it all an air of the mysterious which was the goal I'm sure.

So far the story has been everything it was billed. Total enjoyment!

On the farm front, it looks like the shelter will be usable by Christmas and good thing too, the weather is long overdue for change and it's a coming. We'll be returned to our usual weather programming of snow, rain and dreary days by the first of the year.

Rodger is looking well and feeling perky. His appetite is back in full force as is his good humor. I will also say he is being quite the gentleman to pill. He never puts up a fuss, once in a while a paw may reach for you, but so far, I haven't had my finger pierced or my hand scratched. Yeah!!!

The socks are working well for Dennett although getting them on can be a little bit of a tussle. I put them on in the morning after the walk of the ancients (Peter and Dennett)
and take them off after last out in the evening.

Parting shot: Ear Hats!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Toe of Woe

There is nothing like a big holiday to bring out a good emergency or two. If you're lucky, it WON'T be on the eve of the holiday. I was lucky (knock on wood). What are the chances of not one but two problems presenting themselves within an hour of each other? The Sunday afternoon of discovery......
First up was Rodger, who is in no mood to have his picture taken.

Sometime during the previous 24 hours he had gotten in a fight, likely with one of the barn cats. They usually get along, but lets face it, 3 cats not living together in the same territory is not always all sweetness and light, even in Ashland. The abscessed bite on his neck and the two accompanying scratches were going to need some vet attention in the way of antibiotics. After clean up and inspection with him I let the 9 little heathens in and who is limping but Master Robin, on the same foot as the toe of woe (left front inside) problems in October. In fact that toe of woe was swollen and while not yelp producing was obviously uncomfortable. Well, throw him into the car with the cat for Monday. I was on the horn first thing yesterday to the vet and low and behold, they have a cancellation at 9. I can just barely make it and run frantically through the house throwing dog and cat in their respective crates.

6 miles down the mountain dog is throwing up. 9 miles down the mountain the cat has peed in his crate. Cat is soaked in pee, dog in puke. It was the ride from hell for all of us. The cat had to have a bath and he was grateful for it. He sat while they bathed him
never once yowling or scratching. Wounds cleaned, antibiotics dispensed and we're done on him for the moment. Then it was onto Robin. I had done a quick paw clean so
he was fine that way, but we decided to do an x-ray and see what the heck was going on.

It would seem that Robin actually fractured that toe back in October and while it is healed there is a tiny little bone fragment and some calcification. Likely he hit it wrong rough housing outside with his sister hence the lameness which was gone by the time we arrived at the vet. Of course it was!. If it becomes a real problem it's an easy fix. Remove the first joint of the toe. Sounds awful, but the inside and outside toes of a dogs front foot are not the real weight bearers, the two middle toes are. And did I mention, he's a whopping 10 pounds. Not like removal on a Newfie or a Mastiff! It could be years before anything is needed if at all. The ride home was much less eventful and since my wallet MUCH lighter we could go faster too. ;)

Parting shot: Stella, still so captivating to photograph.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Can This Shirt Be Saved?

In a word, no, probably not. Not that I didn't work this 5 ways from Sunday either. I did.

A first run through on a pattern for me can be a thing of joy, and usually is pretty successful. The worst thing about this is, I could have fixed it in the pattern piece stage so easily if I had checked a few things a bit more closely. 10 demerits at least for laziness since it was nice fabric I grabbed from stash.

The problem is the armhole. Too low, too big and it won't allow for easy arm movement. More fabric was needed between armhole and bust point to make for a well fitting garment. Simple as that. I've taken a few pics for you can see on like pieces. One is the vest pattern I just finished (tan tissue) and the other the same piece from this Camp Shirt pattern. Remember that smaller armhole will fit closer to the body and gives more fabric to the bust area. Quite a difference really.

And on Rhonda, you can see how nice and close to the body the arm hole is on the vest and how much bunching there is on the shirt sleeve going through it.

Since this pattern was traced from a master pattern I can easily redraft the armhole and sleeve using the Simplicity pattern and a french curve. I like many things about this little camp shirt pattern. Enough to do it.

I have also taken the measurements from bust point to the arm hole, depth etc. so I can get a better idea on future patterns what the minimums are for comfort and fit.
They recommend taking your measurements in quarters, NOW I understand why. Too often designers think as we go up in size, our shoulders become football player proportions, our arms longer and lower. It isn't a matter of increasing things over all, it's knowing where we tend to get fluffy and draft up for those areas while blending areas that don't increase. Thankfully, there are ways to fix it depending on the style and cut of the garment.

Most of this beautiful fabric will be recycled into cute little coin purses or possibly enough might be salvaged for trim on something.

At last here is the lovely fabric Benita sent. If I can get this camp shirt fitting well, I would like one made in this. How fun!

Parting shots: Do You Hear What I hear?

Do You Smell What I Smell?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finally, A Vest Pattern to Love

Those that have followed for a good long while may remember that most of my sewing failures have been vests. I've had a tough time with that article of clothing. I LOVE vests so that may have been part of the problem as I was very fussy about the cut and style and of course, factor in my beginner skill and maybe a poorly drafted pattern or two. All in all it made for a year of bad vest mojo. I bought Simplicity pattern 2155 when it came out this late summer and have been looking at it quite often. I have good luck with Simplicity patterns overall so I was hopeful. I had some nice wool in the stash (printed with rose buds on one side, plain herringbone on the other), that I liked a lot but wasn't so in love with that if it didn't work out I would be left sobbing and hand wringing over it.

I'm so glad I went for it. I love just about everything, although the collar instructions could have been better. That waterfall collar needs to be coaxed into that shape and the directions never go back and tell you how, but I figured it out.

You know a pattern/garment is a winner when you wear it around with only one button and don't want to take it off to complete the rest.
Note to weavers, this is NOT a thrifty fabric pattern. It requires between 2.5 and 3.5 yards of fabric at 45 inches depending on size and nap. This will made again, with fabric I've saved and some pattern tweaking.

On the weaving front, 3 beautiful somethings have left here as gifts and are winging their way around the country and not a one has pics I can show. Sorry! But Hey Baby Delta got quite the workout around here and I had a lot of fun with small mixed warps all done in plain weave. Dennett sleeps in the loom room. The thump and bump of weaving upsets him so we moved him to the living room for the duration of these projects. It meant I had to be quick and economical with them. He's back in his usual spot, happily snoozing away most of his day. If he makes it into 2012 he's going to be right around 19. A very old dog indeed. He's a little wobbly some days so we are trying gripper socks on him around the house.

Jury is still out but it looks like it might work pretty well for him. Anything to keep him as mobile as possible.

One thing that did make the finishing a little faster was a new drying rack.
The floor models just don't work for us so I was delighted to find this one on etsy. It hangs on the wall and is nicely made with good sturdy dowels and hinges.

When not in use, it folds up. MUCH better than stuff thrown over the shower stall frame. ;)

In other news, I was thrilled to help a friend out with a blanket for their almost 2 year old grandson. It was so cute too. A big fleece John Deere tractor panel with another plain fleece for backing. I got the two of them together a lot nicer that the usual cut and tie they make these for and did a little custom label complete with tractor ribbon. I love breaking out the embroidery machine!

I'm betting this will be much loved for a long time. I certainly hope so. Stella wanted
it for herself. She does love anything made of fleece to curl in. They all do.

Benita sent me this wonderful horse print fabric in which the picture simply won't load. There is a lot of it, enough for both a cute camp shirt and some pillowcases I think. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'll be working on a photo of it for the next post. It's so pretty.

And that brings us to the parting shot: Peter, another of the ancients, turns 17 in 2012.
Still handsome after all these years.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Industry of Elves

Have you ever thought about how hard an elf must work? I bet a lot of the wants of children are last minute. And imagine having to retool the Santa workroom for molded plastics. I bet THAT was a learning curve! I was watching one of the kids stations the other day. The Polar Express was on and I must catch it at least once (usually more) a season. Anyway, the commercials were plentiful and geared to a crowd much younger than myself. Imagine my surprise and total horror when I discovered they had actually made a small plastic dog that poops! It POOPS! What kind of toy is that? You put a peanut looking thing in the front, pump his tail I think and it comes out the back end. Good grief why would anyone waste their hard earned money on something like that? Dolls that wet were bad enough, what is next years toy going to be? Cat with Hairball? Bulimic Barbie? She throws up on cue. I was disgusted to say the least. This is the best toy makers can do? Does Santa's elves waste their time on such..crap?

I've been in elf mode myself although my efforts don't come close to Santa's. What needed to be sewn is sewn, bought is bought and only the wrapping and/or shipping awaits. The fate of a few peoples Christmas will soon lie in the hands of the USPS. Comforting I know. ;)

I played Santa yesterday to all my friends at the Web-sters. While my yarn buying has drastically reduced, it remains one of my favorite places and the staff is always first rate. This years little token was beautiful needle cases in fancy ribbon, satin and wool.

Easy to make once you get by the slippery satin and of course a perfect way to showcase a truly spectacular ribbon.

Since the staff there runs the gamut of knitters, crocheters, weavers and sewists I knew each could use it for a needle or two.

Other gift making can't be shown, but I have put in a few hours getting some already cut patterns made. Both shirts are Sewing Workshop Patterns, one Liberty with it's interesting side seams and the other, Zigzag with the nifty yoke/collar construction.

Since this is the second time around for these two patterns they went together easily, although the Liberty pattern paired with the lightweight wool suiting was a struggle in some ways.

To get this wool in particular to hold a crease for sewing and such, I spent a lot of time with the iron on steam and a press cloth. It made for getting nice miters a bit more time consuming but I am very happy with the results. An iron is a sewers best friend.

Elf Gene has been making progress on the horse shelter, although I wish it were done.

And there he is, working hard on the getting the metal roof on! I'm told while I spent
yesterday afternoon and evening in town, the other side of the roof was almost completed.

He has had a surprising amount of holiday orders and really has looked some days like a little elf himself in a very messy workroom. I'll spare you that picture. For those of you compulsively neat it is of nightmare proportions to even see it. I keep the door closed myself most times.

The horses have donned their beautiful curly coats and I delight in burying my fingers into those lush soft curls.

It has been perfect weather for riding and I have managed to slip in a few short ones during this past week. It's been cold, but oh so refreshing and the horses have all been playful and fun on their outings.

So now it's on to the time of last minute, be it shopping, wrapping or cooking. Holiday music reigns supreme, pine boughs grace our door and our mantle, clove studded oranges await hanging, cider needs mulling, stockings need filling and cheer abounds even if the blog may be a bit neglected. I hope each and everyone of you is savoring the season in some wonderful way.

Parting shots: 2 Chicas and an Amigo

EARWORM ALERT: (Hummed to the tune of the Little Drummer Boy)

Little Beggar Donks ..fa rump a dum dum
I have no gifts for you.. fa rump a dum dum
My finest hay I give ...rump a dum dum, rump a dum dum...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Kitchen Sink Post

These are the posts that have a little bit of everything thrown in. Sewing and weaving projects are off limits right now since it's been all gifts. This one is going to actually start near the kitchen sink!

After I painted my kitchen I mentioned that it would be fun to do some vintage dishes. I was tired of my old set. Like all of my dish sets, it was pretty cheap and I do that on purpose. I never feel guilty about changing them out and moving them on. So the hunt was on for some fun vintage dishes and I settled on restaurant ware. Many manufacturers used similar patterns and so, I was able to find an assortment from Syracuse, McNichol, Jackson and Shenago china companies.

I have multiples of all of these and again a well stocked china cabinet. I'm still on the hunt for some fill in pieces but we've been enjoying them a lot.

Cold weather gear. For most of us, winter is starting to settle in and I feel it's worth mentioning products that have worked for farm use in our cold and wet area.
Bogs Boots! I am heading into year 3 on these boots and I can't say enough about them. They keep my feet warm and dry even though I may be out there for quite some time. They are very comfortable too. If I had a complaint it would be I wish for a little more heel for riding.

Neoprene gloves. I found a pair of diver gloves in a heavy neoprene in one of our local outdoor stores. They are tops for keeping hands dry and I do a lot of work with water outside in the winter for the critters. They are not terribly warm, so if you find a pair, get a warm thin liner glove too. I didn't like the high snug cuff so I cut it off. It's still snug but not like one would need for a wet suit.

Lands End turtlenecks. Still the nicest made for a good price. I have LE t-necks that must be 10 years old. They wear like iron, keep their shape and while over that much time and use, still look pretty decent color wise. I buy the men's since they are cut longer.

Dog beds. If you have dogs or cats that like the sofa and chairs, throw a bed on them. They will use them and it offers some protection to the furniture both with mud/grit/hair and the nesting and scratching my dogs love to do ( and spin around 3 times at least), before they settle into snooze mode.

Rodger the cat likes them too, he just doesn't always get a free one in time. Musical beds anyone? They are easily washable and hold up remarkably well no matter what the make.

I love new little gadgets and doodads. Either for sewing, knitting or weaving. Clover has come out with some fun little clips that have proved useful on the sewing and the weaving fronts.

They really make working with slippery or fine fabrics easy. No more distortion or pin marks. You can also get them in packs of 10.

That about covers the non-gift highlights for this post! Except of course...Parting shot:
Grrrr Baby Grrrrrrrrrr!
He's really not growling..we took advantage of dry lip and stuck them up there. Robin was quite happy to stay like that as long as I was rubbing his tummy. Such a mellow fellow!