Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Iceman Cometh

This is an atypical winter, no two ways about it. After our beautiful snowfall, the weather felt compelled to rain all over that beautiful snow. We lost a lot as it saturated and compressed and then the cold weather came. I was going to ride yesterday. It was sunny, it was cold and crisp and it was a skating rink. The horses are slipping and sliding in the feeding areas of their paddock, the ice is thick and it's anywhere you've ever walked or driven. Where it is still snow the crust is so thick I can walk on it. But they can't. It makes for very unpleasant riding and was deemed far to dangerous to risk it for a little hour ride in the woods. It's always about this time that I wish I could pack them all down to a barn in the valley with an indoor arena. But then I remember none of us enjoys going around in circles, nor being shut in every night, nor the heavy expense, nor the drive down daily to visit. Sigh....

Of course it has meant that fiber pursuits are still in full swing. The flag warp will come off today, and a new one will go on next week. The same thing, 5 yards, black and white for prayer flags. The mixed warp has been spread and awaits the winding. It's going to be a bugger due to all the grabby boucle yarns but fingers crossed we'll get a decent wind on. I may have DH give a hand with this one today.

While you will get to see my flags in full when they come off the loom, my Dad is working this winter on some spectacular scarves and what daughter wouldn't want to show them off. Here is the first in a pinwheel pattern (60 Scarves-60 Years book). The colors are eggplant and silver in bamboo.

I've done a bit of sewing, working through the patterns I cut in the beginning of the week. A while ago I said I would never try another Burda pattern. NEVER say never.
I fell in love with both versions of this pattern and since it was on sale for cheap at the local JoAnn's I figured I would give it a whirl.

I had a good amount of leftover fabric from another project so no tears would be shed if it didn't work out. Surprisingly, I really like it.

I need to do a few adjustments, lower the little front band about half an inch, do a better finish than what they tell you to do on the complete neck edge and I will continue to sew that back pleat down.

It made the top fit so much better and keeps the interesting asymmetrical detail in tact. It's very hard to see in this picture but if you look at the pattern link, you'll get what I'm talking about.

A fabric with more drape is really required for this to be at it's best, but I had this nice soft cotton on hand for the first run through. I didn't do the best job getting this back on Rhonda, it fits MUCH better than it looks in the photos. I like the other version just as well but will lose that ridiculous long back shirt tail. I will say Burda does an awful job with directions, that certainly hasn't changed and I'm am rewriting them and adding notes/details to the pattern so the next time I make it, I'll have a better time of it.

I also made myself a Quincy top as a jacket.

The fabric is a nice black and white wool mini check, tropical weight, with a linen/cotton blend collar, cuffs and pocket details.I liked the looks of a metal zipper with this one and added some silk tie scraps that I had just because it made me happy to do so.

It has been lengthened a bit from the pattern. It is comfortable, light and warm with the addition of a turtleneck. It will get a lot of wear.

In farm news, nothing much to report. Everyone is looking kind of tubby and well fed right down to the barn cats. Last Friday Peter ( who is not as agile at 17 as he once was) attempted to jump up on the high guest room bed. He didn't make it and sheared off a rear toenail catching it on the metal box spring frame. There was a lot of blood but no crying and no panic. We have seen toes of woe before and are well prepared. I cleaned it off with a betadine solution, we managed a nice pressure bandage complete with bright teal vet wrap and started the boy on antibiotics. Through everything he stood like a champ and let us do what we had to do with not a single complaint, unlike some silly puppy I know! Off to the vet Tuesday for a look see. No swelling, no infection, no limping and came home with no bandage and just a few more days of antibiotics. He's on the mend but our walks have been curtailed in with this crusty snow and ice. No point tempting the fates.

Parting shot: Sewing buddies Rodger and Peter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Right Fine Dumping

Winter came and it conquered with some pretty decent snowfall amounts, about 14 new inches on top of our 10-12 we had before the day and night of downpour. This shot was taken at the start of our big snowfall. It was all welcome and did help with our 5 inch waterfall deficit. We still have a lot of catch up to do. The dogs had a marvelous time. To them it must be magic that those pee spots get "refreshed" every night. HA!

With snow also comes the general knowledge that everything outside takes longer, be it a drive to town or refilling water tanks. Hoses must be hung back up carefully, snow paths need to be broken, trudging around is slower etc. And then there was the completely lost NFL playoff Sunday. Congratulations Patriots! I will admit to not watching the last 1.12 minutes of the game. I was sure it was going to be tied and go into over time or worse, end with a Raven touchdown. When I switched back,
I was pleasantly surprised of course. The Ravens gave that one away. And congrats to the Giants, who fought for every single point against the 49'ers. It was a great game, well played by two teams that were evenly matched. I didn't have the vested interest in this one and enjoyed every minute of it.

The prayer flag warp is just about at it's end. I think I can eek about 4 more flags out. I leave a good amount of space for fringe with these little flags so it does eat up warp. I figure I should get about 15 flags. The green wool warp is ready for winding on and threading. I'll use 4 shafts in plain weave, although for some interest I will probably double or triple up threads every 3 inches or so and try to get a little textural windowpane effect in the weaving. We'll see.

I finished off the new McCalls pattern and while I loved certain aspects of it, I truly disliked others. They have you mark everything with circles, squares and triangles. Really, I can match sleeves and cuffs quite well with just a couple of clips and maybe a dot.

The collar, that big collar with the large neck opening is set on a stand. Let me tell you, it was a bugger to get in neatly. It is on the outside, that inside facing is ugly though and the next time I make this, I'll make the collar a bit wider and set it right into the neck and face the inside with grosgrain ribbon or something. The last gripe is the sleeve construction. The top yoke/sleeve is wonderful and the lower sleeve piece fits well, but then it is not really set into an armhole but created by sewing up the side seam into the sleeve seam.

It's just not the nicest construction style for a blouse IMHO. It's okay but not great. I wanted great from this pattern especially since it uses a whopping 3.5 yards. I do love the mushroom fabric, enough that I bought more for later since my hefty stash of it was eaten up on this one garment.

The quilt top has been pieced and is ready for batting and backing.

I haven't yet decided on what type of batting I want to use. Maybe a light wool. I also need to get a binding fabric. I wanted it pieced before I decided on that. It's pretty cute and those squares were quite easy and fun. A nice re-entry into quilting.

I've been reading up on linings and honestly, I am disappointed in what I'm finding in my general sewing books. I have an unlined coat pattern that I want to do but need to line my fabric choice for it.

If I want to bag a lining from edge to edge, a fair amount of good basic instruction. If I want to tailor a men's jacket by hand with linings, interlinings and all sorts of stuff, I can find that too, but for a mostly bagged lining with prominent facings, not so much. I realize how this is probably done but some detailed explanations would be handy to have. I think my old Time-Life The Art of Sewing: Basic Tailoring has the closest information and maybe a peek at some of my coat/jacket patterns with linings may have what I'm looking for in the way of concise steps. We'll see.

Parting shot: Stella, keeping Timmy close on a cold winters day. ;)
For those that may have missed it, "Timmy" is the name of her ball(s). As in , "Go find Timmy, Stella!" Or "Is Timmy lost?" or "Hand Timmy over to me." This one rarely works unless she is absolutely sure you are going to toss...Timmy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day

The sensible ones.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tick Tock

I couldn't help myself this week, I had to grab that vintage inspired alarm clock fabric and get it sewn first in the queue. (It helped that I didn't have a zipper for the black and white wool check blouse slated up first). I felt daring enough (after a good pin fitting with this new to me pattern by Indygo Junction), to use the "good" fabric.

It's actually a very old out of print pattern "The Everyday Jacket" and Fabric of Vision had one copy still hanging around so I grabbed it up.
It is still available here should you want it.

Anyway, it was a relatively quick construction. Sandi has this pattern made up and she gave me a few tips. The neck is high and the sleeve darts might need some adjusting. I did both of those adjustments in the tissue fitting stage. I couldn't be happier with the finished result.

These over sized prints are fun but hard to use sometimes, this was a perfect pair up in my mind.

The fit is quite good and the top doesn't stray into the too voluminous category. And I got to use these beautiful vintage buttons!

I have to say my pattern library has grown and grown again. $.99, $1.99 and $4.99 sales on patterns are the culprit. $.99 is a very small price to pay for some quality dream time even if the pattern never gets made up! There have been some great sales in the last 2 weeks and while I bought a modest 5 patterns at the one I am most excited about is this new one from McCalls!

It may look like just another shirt pattern but I like the shape and the interesting saddle sleeve/yoke construction this one offers, not to mention the pretty necklines in two variations. I fell completely in love with it when I got out the instructions to peruse. This is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern for McCalls and has excellent instructions on how to do common adjustments that might be needed. What I loved is that they aren't canned. They are shown on this pattern and step by step.

As it turned out I needed to do a small FBA (full bust adjustment), and how nice was it to have the lines already marked out on where to cut and how to do it. If one had never done one before, this walks you through it painlessly. Good job! Now let's see if the pattern really works in fabric. The grey print mushrooms have made it to the cutting table. Another of my many favorite fabrics.

In general news, we are having a series of weather events. They keep predicting high winds and I keep waiting for them. But we have had snow and rain and all sorts of messy stuff in between. The horses are making good use of their stalls. Gene and I took pity on them yesterday morning and I opened the little paddock and stall area back up to easy access. They came, they each took to their own stalls and they stayed, only moving out for bathroom breaks. The boys are quite neat really if they can come and go at will. I left it just as it was for the overnight.

The dogs all had fun playing in the snow. Robin, like his big sis Stella, had himself a grand time un-burying hidden toy treasures, then either tossing them about or parading the find around, prancing like a (very) little pony. I watched from the kitchen window for a good 15 minutes until the games were over and everyone noticed they were cold and tired. They piled up on the deck to wait for the door person, who I might add, is very well trained. ;)

Parting shots: Family Portrait.

Them's that plays together, stays together!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do Over

Well, I was sure optimistic thinking I could get that blouse recut and sewn all in a day.
I suppose if I didn't have the steady stream of interruptions (just about all with tails),
or the twin lures of beer and football, I might have had a chance. As it was, the final touches and press were completed yesterday mid-morning.

Was it worth it? Yes, I think it was. I loved the fabric enough to go the distance, USA made and organic.

It was the perfect opportunity to try the short sleeved version of this pattern out. Boy, are pintucks easier on good crisp cotton as opposed to double gauze! I may not have gotten back to this nice Simplicity pattern had it not been under duress. It's in the rotation though now as a TNT pattern. I had to get creative in a couple of spots using the pretty and annoyingly wide printed selvage edge. A small concession.

A few more flags and some work on the warping board with the wools round out the not so productive but quite busy weekend.

Seems there is nothing like starting work on your summer wardrobe to taunt Old Man Winter out of hiding. We actually had measurable snow! Donkeys needed coats

and the horses spent Sunday night locked into the new shelter. And for those eyeing those stall gates, each one has a leather break-away on the handle. It will give long before the tape or the hardware. It's not pretty but it works well and my guys are very respectful of fencing. These are not hot, none of the new paddock is.

I checked once on them before heading up to bed Sunday and yesterday morning they were all peaceful, waiting like gentlemen at the fronts for the hay delivery lady. No one felt the urge to run me over getting out of their stall as I opened each up. Always a good start to any early morning foray in the dark. I had to actually scoot them out to eat at their usual places in the main paddock. While the building is still unfinished on the outside, the inside is quite a luxury for horses that are use to spending 24/7 outside and using trees for protection (even though they had a run in).

I want them to be dry and have some protection from the winds but not much more. This fills the bill wonderfully.

I am loving the hay feeders.

I thought long and hard about what and how to feed from. Horses do best when they can eat in a natural position, in other words, from the ground. Hay is not grass, stalls get dirty and hay gets wasted. Tubs would get flipped or worse, pooped in, hay nets can cause leg tangles that low but these plastic holders are just perfect for my guys. They slow them down, I can hang them low and the holes are too small for an average hoof or leg. Plus being tied outside the stall window allows me to pull the empty up and over to the outside without having to enter each stall.

Easy to refill too, which hay nets are not! So far I'm quite happy with them.

Parting shots: Snow Day Play

The heartbreak of icy paw.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sergers: The Case for Demonic Possession

I'll grant you, I shouldn't complain too much about my serger. It's been reliable, it's been a workhorse and it was a gift. But I'll tell you, when they go south, they end up close to Patagonia. I spent 3 hours working on mine on Thursday. I learned a lot about it too, like how to re-thread the thing multiple times. I got pretty fast too. I learned tweezers and a threader are things of beauty for this piece of equipment and I also learned, that demons possess it on occasion. The gremlins are still a bit active, but they have been subdued. I need to conquer tension adjustments and I'm betting that should completely banish any residual devils the machine might have. For weaving it is very handy, for garment sewing almost a necessity. I have many sewing machines, all I'm pretty comfortable with tinkering about, and one serger that still mystifies me concerning its inner workings. At some point this year I think it prudent to add a newer one and keep this one as a spare or have the luxury of one set up for light threads, the other dark. If anyone has some serger wisdom, I'm all ears. I'm looking at the little Brother 1034D which seems well priced, pretty reliable and well liked. I think Brother in general puts out a nice product for the dollar.

Sergers aside, I did get some sewing done. Tuesday was spent cutting. I like being able to grab a project and go. These are the fabrics that made it to the table this week.

Quilt pieces, I couldn't resist these fabrics and wanted to see how the squares would look. Such happy fun prints.

The coat lining was finally cut out and I'm gearing up for my first attempt at winter outwear.

Some lovely black and white wool mini check was cut into for a Quincy top. I am going to have a lot of style fun with this. Black collar, large black roll back cuffs and some pockets. I've cut this pattern just a bit longer than usual since I am viewing it more as a jacket than a top.

The retro looking alarm clocks will be made up in a comfy pocketed duster of sorts. I love these kinds of patterns actually. They are fun, comfortable and can be pretty versatile. The trim is a rich plummy brown silk matka.

Last up was a light cotton top from a Vogue pattern.

This is what I was serging when demons took over. Maybe they were angels, because this top is doing nothing for me. I thought the squared off V neck would be nice looking. It isn't.

In fact it's neither fish nor fowl and I disliked the scrub top look so much I have recut it into a sleeveless version of a well liked Simplicity pattern. Today's project to get done and set aside for warm weather wear.

There has been weaving going on too.

I'm into flag 8 of the prayer flag warp and progress has been fairly steady on the mixed wool warp. Half the bundles have been measured on. The idea of going right from swift to warping board worked out.

It's a little slow but still faster than making balls and then putting the warp on the board. I've enjoyed it too, as the yarns are so pretty. These need to be tied up into a bundle and a new one started with the rest of the yarns left.

Bulbs have been planted (finally!), rocks moved into place for a marker, some general outdoor clean up, a fun dinner out, some good time for play and reflection. A full week
indeed. And tonight, Patriots vs Broncos! ;)

Parting shot: Caught red pawed, hot footing it off after stealthily stealing Stella's ball!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thank YOU One and All

Thank you everyone (both on blog and privately) who sent words of comfort, sympathy, beauty and wisdom. You all helped to ease the immediate grief in ways I could never, ever explain in words. Heartfelt hugs to you all and all your fur friends too!

Needless to say Sat and Sunday were lost days, but it is virtually impossible to have a sustained pity party around here with all of this

and this.

So things are getting back to a new normal PDQ. Peter had a rough time too and I made a trip to town Sunday so he could get out for a good long car ride, some visiting and just feeling special. It helped us both.

Now, I had promised some weaving content before we derailed and I've actually made some additional progress.

Having the Julia in the house proper is working as far as use but the location is very poor for lighting. I've had to move the clip on light from my warping board to the loom. A pain really, as it also needs to do duty on the board for the shawl warp. This warp is for single prayer flags and I had decided not to do pattern wise what I have done in the past. I pulled a simple pattern from "Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave" by Tina Ignell. There are so many projects of interest but I thought this pattern (Flowery Wool Rug page 117), would translate well down to mini size for the flags and it has!

It is dense, it shows off the given flag color much better and is just more stable/less sleazy than the previous warps. I'm doubling up the weft yarns as I have multiple cones in the same color families. Not always the same exact color so there will be some depth. I ran red first as it is an easy color to spot threading mistakes with. There were none. The tie up though was pretty funny. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what sunk and what raised on the draft. The light bulb eventually clicked on
long enough for my to write it down and we were in business again. Geesh, I need to warp these looms up more! ;)

I've opted not to do a traditional long flag for Dennett, but I did want the silk that is being woven into his flags to be different and special. Sandi at Fabric of Vision came to the rescue with a little piece of saved silk taffeta given with hugs and comfort and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.

There will be all sorts of single prayers in this run, not just for Dennett.

I was hoping to get Hey Baby Delta loom warped but it didn't happen. I did have time to think about how best to handle those multiple little skeins of different wools. They are low yardage although there are 12 of them.

I am going to wind the warp directly from the swift in a random order.

I think it will be faster than doing 12 tiny balls and then winding. I'll drag the swift attached to the bench over to the board and give it all a whirl this morning. The sett will take a bit of playing around with and I'll make it as wide as it will go doing a length of 4 yards +-.

In sewing news, not much mojo there, but I'm gearing up for another cutting session.
A few new patterns and a few old favorites. I love my denim cargo pants so much I'm going to repeat the multi pocket style in a nice deep brown brushed twill I have. They will be top stitched, although not in a contrasting color, just close to the same brown.

Parting shot-Stella: Watching you watching me.