Friday, March 30, 2012

Drum Roll Please!

March is a special month. Birthdays at either end and today, well today Stella turns TWO! So a little retrospect is in order.

Who could forget the winsome 8 week old pup that came home with me one late May day in 2010. All 3 pounds 2 ounces of her.

The "Talk to Paw" diva

or becoming a real pack member allowed to have a chew with her elders.

This past year changes were afoot and she wore a number of different hats. All with grace and mostly good cheer.



and grouchy big sis. (whoa Robin, think of it as a "teaching" moment).

All in all a second young dog really has made life more fun for our little powerhouse.

But today it is all about Stella.

There will be extra biscuits, new toys and special little treats for all.

Happy Birthday Stella! You're a good dog and an even better sport!

Parting shot: Someone had to be Stella's fitting mannequin...Poor, poor Jack!
But nothing says I love you like a pink crown and a donkey napkin. ;)
Talk about good sports!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just Because

I had an interesting time of it working with a new to me pattern from Cutting Line Designs. Actually, the pattern is long out of print but through the miracle of Etsy I was able to snag a copy and give her a go.

The pattern is Farewell to Arms, and honestly, I would love to give it a stellar review, but I just can't. It was poorly drafted, the instructions terribly confusing in parts and for me, a real no-no in a pattern, a heavy reliance on Steam a Seam or other fusibles. I'm not saying they don't have their place in a sewing room, they certainly do! I use Steam-A-Seam 2 all the time to hold my little ribbon trims on until I can sew them down. But I don't think much of a pattern that relies on them for finishing techniques. It's just plain lazy. Baste or sew or modify the technique to be a sewing one. It's okay to learn a skill. Ironing sticky tape down is not one in my book.

This started out for me but it was obvious by the time I got the lower portion of the big style shirt on that it would suit my Mother MUCH better.

It was roomy but narrow through the hips, not a strong suit in the style department for this fluffy figure. So I set about making it really hers. The addition of an embroidered lobster on the back

and a special label completed the blouse along with good tight cuff snaps and off it went to MA as a surprise gift.

She likes it. In fact: " Dear, maybe a light blue one for summer wear might be nice". So for now, I won't be saying "farewell" to Farewell to Arms, but I will be making improvements to the pattern just for sanity's sake.

Now a pattern that did work for me and work well, was Simplicity 2636 (OOP).

I enjoyed the look and feel the princess seams provided and I ended up liking the fact they were to the armhole and not the shoulder. The eggplant cotton with it's fine little woven squares makes for an elegant dressy blouse.

Vintage buttons completed it.

And for the trip/summer another pair of Faux Flax pants has been completed. This time in a wonderful Italian woven 100% linen.

On the weaving front, the Hollandia seems to have a dog on the loom and it is 100% my fault. I put that warp on in September to make a quick run of dish towels for the fire departments silent auction. I completed them and also two more along the way which are still on the loom. It's been slow going and I sat down last week and figured out why I hate them. In my effort to get it on, I did a poor job of laying out my treadle tie up. 90% of these towels is tabby. My tabby treadles are over to the far left of 10 treadles. I spend most of my weaving time centered for throwing the shuttle and reaching with my left foot to treadle 1 & 2. It's uncomfortable and I only need the hint of an excuse not to do it. Today I am dropping the treadles, centering my tabby ones at the 5 & 6 spot and putting the design treadles evenly on each side. I have a fair amount of yardage left on this warp, about 7 +-, so it is worth it to get these done and the loom free.

In farm news, it's getting pretty ugly out there. The days this week have all been the same, snow early in the morning, changing to rain, staying grey until late afternoon when the sun might or might not peek out and then a wet finish. It can either be accompanied by high winds or not. Friday was sunny and the wind chilled you right to the bone. Come rain or shine I do try to get out daily with a dog for a walk. Usually Peter and sometimes a pair. Yesterday I took both Robin and Peter out for a good long hike in the back woods. The snow was deep in parts (over my knees) and while I slogged the two tiny titans were able to skip over the surface of the deep parts.
I'll leave you with a few parting shots. Robin is wearing a harness with bells attached. Should he take off I can track him by sound and it's fair warning to any wildlife I might not want him to meet up with. Of course we make a whole heap of noise without the bells!

Ready,set, go!

Bump on a log

Big woods, little dog running like the wind. ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Defense Against the Dark Days

Just because we "spring" forward doesn't mean the days are any sunnier. In fact, it's just longer periods of lighter shades of grey! I know I P&M'd about us needing more moisture, but in these parts it seems like it almost always saves the soggy finale for March and April, just when you're ready for blue skies, warm breezes and a trail or two that wasn't so saturated a single ride over it will ruin it for a season.

But a girl has her defenses! Other than Bog boots, yellow ducky rain slickers and shedding blades these brighten the dreary days:

Yep, cottons, light, airy and full of possibilities. There is nothing so alluring as a length of beautiful fabric, a skein of silky softness or a wound warp. At least for the fiber inclined. Boaters, golfers, gardeners etc. all have their special ideas of spring time allure. I know the horses are watching and waiting for grass to grow and everyone takes advantage of a warm, dry deck. It may be the middle of March Madness but here it is spring fever.

A new farrier finally appeared. Trims have been accomplished and everyone is much happier for it. Dandy was getting terribly klutzy as were the other two. He was kind, quick and conservative with these first of trims. Hard to see how the horses go in the snow and mud, but hopefully next time will allow for a better look see at the full mechanics of each horse. None of my boys is complicated when it comes to hoof work
but still it requires some finesse to get angles and such correct for each horses particular way of going.

Other than that, it's been pretty dull around here. I am slowly gearing up for my spring exodus back to the homeland. (LOL, we're talking Massachusetts here). Things are being put in order, lists and instructions starting to appear to help Gene out over the month plus of solo farm sitting. No doubt my Mom and Dad are putting their own little lists together of things to do and see and , well, dine on! Hopefully they will have a project or two for me.

I'm also starting to load my Kindle up, so if anyone has some good book suggestions I'm all ears. Perhaps some non-fiction that was particularly good? What reads were a struggle to put down?

Parting shot: Stella, exasperated with little brother Robin.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Water Logged

Which is probably a good thing after our low snow, low moisture winter. This is shaping up to be a typical spring. Wet, muddy and fairly miserable. Can I say again how much I am loving the new little barn? I need not slog though ankle deep muck to get to flooded feeder tubs. I just go to the windows outside the paddock, pull the hay feeders through, fill them and slide them back in the stalls. They keep the hay off the ground and the horses all have somewhere not mucky to stand and eat. Heaven for all of us.

This of course is the least favorite weather pattern for the small and useless furkids.
I use useless in the most loving way! Everyone that has a short smooth coat wants and needs a little something extra for those forced outdoor marches.

I am always amazed that what takes ages to do on a sunny warm day is accomplished by 8 dogs in less than 5 minutes flat. Hmmmmm.....

Tuesday early morning saw 9 plus inches of the heavy wet stuff, just enough to nix a breakfast date in town. By 4:00 p.m. it was 4 inches with a heavy layer of slush. YUCK!
For spring I think this area should be renamed "The Mudsprings".

Precious little has gone on here, lots of make work. Picking up, organizing the buildup on counters and end tables, pulling books for donation and old clothes that have seen their last winter here at least. The cats were all hauled to the vet yesterday morning
for check-ups and rabies. It was challenging for the barn cats but all in all they acquitted themselves quite well. Buzz was paralyzed by fear, but he never offered to scratch or bite. Juno probably would have been purring in ten minutes time, but a pre-school group was due for a field trip there within the hour and we wanted the cats on their way home before that circus arrived. Rodger of course was cool and calm, walked out of his crate purring and said a cheery hello to everyone.

The rest of the crew will have their rabies shots at the end of the month. Dr. Beth (who use to do big animals) is making a house call. We'll do the all the dogs needing it and also the horses and donkeys. She's excited, I'm excited and vet tech Nic is excited since he's going to vet school in the next year and large animal experience is helpful. I have a nice crew when it comes to ground manners so a good intro for him. Any mistakes are usually met with just a surprised look.

A little sewing has gone on and a little prayer flag weaving and not much else. The prayer flags you've seen a ton of times, but this sewing pattern is new. Simplicity 2841.

It's out of print but still available on the Simplicity web site. This is my first Khaliah Ali pattern and I am terribly impressed with it.

Very well designed and makes quite a handsome tunic to my eye. I will say the instructions are good right until you have to start fiddling with that neck.

It was slow going but the result is well worth the work and once you have that ah-ha moment about what they want you to do, it's all just fabric manipulation. I'll certainly use it again. Might add some inseam pockets because, who doesn't like pockets??!

Parting Shot: The always regal Peter. Looking pretty good for 17 isn't he.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events

It's not quite as bad as the string of gloom and doom that follows the characters in Lemony Snicket's books, but there were moments. :)

Enter silk burnout.

I used a simple pattern I had used before. Lisette 0405. I had a vision, it clouded finding the notes I had made about the pattern, most importantly, the one about cutting the garment longer than the pattern. Tummy tickler shirts simply don't work when you have an actual tummy.

The series of unfortunate events occurred when I tried to lengthen the shirt. It reminded me of a Geico commercial. It goes something like this.

Not paying attention, shirt cut too short,
Add ruffle to bottom of shirt
Husband and wife share 15 minutes of hyena like laughter over short shirt with ridiculous ruffle
Ruffle gets removed and sewn on as panel, on wrong side
Ruffle gets removed again and sewn on as panel correctly
Sleeve gets pin basted on
Shirt still ugly.
You don't want to wear an ugly shirt
Don't cut shirt too short.

Of course if I could find a pair of harlequin tights I might fit right in with a traveling carnival. HA!

I've put it away for the time being. The poor fabric has been tortured quite enough for a while. Thanks for the laughs though... Instead I made up a little test cami pattern.

It needs some tweaking, but I slipped it on (and all the good mojo it contained), and was quite happy wearing it around yesterday under my sweatshirt.

Then of course there was the last unfortunate event in the series. One bout of warp has fallen pray to a certain rotten little scamp. Never ever take for granted that when things are quiet all is well in the world of house dogs. It usually means someone has done something so heinous the others recognize it and go into hiding! Luckily,
I saved most of it. There may be a thread or three that is broken, but this is not following any set pattern so who would know.

Parting shot: Guilty as charged.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Faux Flax

Liesl's well traced pattern of my linen pants worked up PERFECTLY.

Of course there were no instructions, but it is also a fairly simple pattern. The pocket band gave me some headaches and the first one I had to rip out twice before getting it right.

The waistband was also a little challenging. I figured out they constructed it in two pieces, not the usual single waistband that may have seam in back. Once I accepted this, it was pretty easy to get it on and looking like the original.

I did have a little help with construction order. Way back I mentioned on one of my blog posts about the new ( at that time) Thread's Sewing Guide.

I liked the book when I bought it and felt it had a lot of good information, but was sceptical it was as good as my old favorite by Reader's Digest. Over the past months, I have found myself using it more often. No sewing book is ever really complete, not this one, not the Reader's Digest, but I'll tell you, this one comes darn close. The RD failed me in construction order. I didn't need long drawn out chapters for these pants, nor was I tailoring menswear. I just needed a down and dirty guide to the easiest way to assemble pants so I wouldn't be undoing something along the way. The Threads Guide to Sewing had it. It was just right for bringing order to my 7 piece pattern. They also have one for shirts.

Both handy to have especially if you are buying European patterns that may or may not have instructions in English or making your own up.

Over the week the other items to hit the sewing machine were the Sewing Workshop's Tosca Dress taken all the way down to a blouse, or at least a little "over blouse".

I managed to bring up those armholes something like 7 inches and keep the shape and grade of both neck and sides in tact.

It's the shape and drape (this one in a very nice rayon) that make this piece so fun. The big pleated pockets had to go but two smaller patch pockets did manage to make it on the top; side and back.

I resurrected the Burda 7220 pattern because this lovely India made cotton was yarn dyed, so the drapey neck would be the same inside and out.

A little fun was had with some bias cuts for yoke and the front bands and apologies because this was thrown on Rhonda crooked. The small embroidery detail is truly centered on the back yoke.

Still left to do over the weekend is the silk burnout. I saved the most challenging for last.

In other news, I'm hoping my farrier problems are behind me. In late November Morgan trimmed up everyone. I knew he was working out on a ranch beyond Christmas Valley, but he was hoping to make it out this way every couple of months. We set an appointment for Mid-late January. Not unusual for winter since the guys neither grow a lot of hoof in the winter nor do they get ridden. January came and went, calls were made and never returned. I waited and waited. It's an old story. Even after almost 10 years if I can't rely on someone ( no matter how much we love you Morgan)
I've got to do the best I can for the horses. The first recommended farrier said yes and then cancelled and then this week gave me the name of the second one on my list. I would have called him first actually but he lives in Eagle Point and I figured wouldn't want to travel so far. Well, it turns out Farrier Dos already has a client on the mountain, someone I don't know, and is more than willing to take on some additional work up here. HA! I've got 2 other people with 8 horses waiting and hoping this one works out. I'm sending up a small prayer to the powers that be!

Parting shot: Feel free to rub tummy at will and with abandon.
Robin loves to pull out and nest in the folded flannels I have on the bottom shelf.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Easy Come, Easy Go

We have had quite the odd winter. It got cold, it stayed dry, and now, late in the season
it just can't decide if it wants to attempt winter or relinquish itself over to spring. The snow of last week, all 2.5 feet plus of it, had diminished to less than half of that by Friday night and by Sunday, bare muddy patches of ground were apparent everywhere but in the usual shady spots. Yesterday called for rain and snow, we got neither until snow showed up late last night. Nuisance snow, an early spring time specialty up in there parts. Makes a morning drive to town a white knuckle ride and by 3:00 p.m. you are wondering why you didn't go to town.

The weekend brought time for some sewing and warp making. I have one more bout to do on the board. I kept getting lured outside by our temps in the 50's and the bright sunshine. Just seemed perfect for dog walking and sitting on the porch steps listening to the birds and squirrels. And of course, watching snow melt!

I managed another pair of cargo pants.

Lots of lined or pleated pockets including back pockets, a snap flap of course and tons of top stitching. Two spools worth of top stitching. I can slam this pant pattern together in about 3 hours from cut to hem, but with the pocket making and decorative stitching I added a lot of time. It was worth it and Brother Ed did a fantabulous job serging.

I also did a test run through of a Connie Crawford pattern. Butterick 5261 and I have to say, I like it! It's a little big, but with some tweaking I can grade it down some.

I can wear tops like this all day long, cool in the summer because they don't cling, roomy enough in the winter to wear a turtleneck under and with the raglan sleeve a very good range of motion in the shoulder. Excellent for weaving or riding or just living in. This is closer to RTW construction (Ready to Wear), with it's lack of facings and such. A winner for a basic every day kind of blouse.

I gave myself a little splurge too last week. I have this pair of linen pants that I adore.
They are FLAX Design and are now long gone in the style and cut. Liesl, one of the gals that works at Fabric of Vision was able to make a pattern from them ( and not take them apart) so I can duplicate them, over and over again!

What a great service and very reasonably priced. The pattern itself is on a special non-oven type of paper sort of like Tyvek that will last forever, everything is marked clearly and comes in its own little pattern envelope.

How perfect!

This is what the "too sew" pile looks like for this week.

In farm news, nothing much to report. The local vets (and probably those up and down the west coast) are alerting everyone to the rabies outbreak in New Mexico.
Here it is in total from my vet.

There is a massive Rabies outbreak in New Mexico, near Carlsbad. Since Christmas, 22 skunks, 1 fox, and 1 dog have tested positive (rabies testing can only be done on deceased animals, as it requires examination of brain tissue). Thirty-two dogs, unstated numbers of livestock and at least one cat have been euthanized because they were exposed to infected animals and had no current rabies vaccination. Twelve people have had to receive post exposure treatment.
With the rapid transit of people and animals these days, inapparently infected animals could show up anywhere in the country any day. Please make sure all your animals - cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, goats - are vaccinated and up to date.
If you are considering travel to this area any time soon, you might want to reconsider. Leave your pets at home and stay away from the wildlife and local pets!!

So the take away message, get those critters vaccinated no matter where you live.

Parting shot: Stella, Stella, with your ball. Who's the fairest pup of all?