Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oh Deer!

Yep deer, earlier than I can remember in the 13 years we have lived here. And most of them are in mid shed and looking pretty darn scruffy too.  And not surprisingly, after I posted about the lame turkey hen not appearing, she did! She limped out of the woods on Tuesday, had a quick peck around the bird feeder and limped back. This has been happening with the hens, singles appearing and not staying long. My guess is they are all on eggs and each is getting away when they can for some quick foraging.

It has been a stressful week. A gross understatement. I can only imagine the long road to recovery the injured and their families will be traveling in both Boston and West Texas and the grief for those lost. As a Massachusetts native, who has grown up on the Boston Marathon and the Red Sox opening day being a Patriots Day tradition, the bombing events hit close to my heart. Next week I'll board a plane and spend a month there, surrounded by those I love in a place, that no matter where I live, will always be my first home.

While the TV or radio was on almost constantly in the background, I kept busy stash busting.  Some productive sewing went on, if little else. I perfected the raglan pullover, bringing it down a couple of sizes and lengthening it.

 I used another fabric from stash for the neck lining and pocket trim. I had planned for some pillows but decided that the striped fabric would make fun pants. Of course I had to cut out the pants to make sure that my pirating of the collar/pocket lining wouldn't take too much away. I hadn't bought this length for a garment. So pants got made too and then a new to me Decades of Style pattern (Tunic with Kimono Sleeves), warranted some attention. I love this pattern for the options it offers to use two or more smaller cuts of fabric. Often I see a fabric I adore but the price for enough yardage to make a blouse, or tunic is prohibitive. A pattern that allows for a yard of this, a yard or so of that is a treasure, especially when it's so darn pretty and comfortable. I made two of them right in a row.

 The dark brown version uses some of my old linen curtain fabric and a one yard piece I bought 14 years ago in Montrose CA.  Finally, a purpose for it!

The lighter version is a beautiful butter colored linen and some heavier organic cotton print. Hemming has not been done yet in either of these pics.

 I made some changes along the way, lengthened the sleeve just a bit and made the center panel a slight a-line.  The proportions of this blouse are interesting and it is one of very few patterns in my stash that look better shorter than longer. My stash is looking pretty meager. I'll have to work on that! ;)

I'm just about ready to go, Peter's medications have been doled out for each day in pill containers, directions for feeding horses tacked up in the barn, dog food loaded in, suitcase down and in packing process, some simple meals frozen for Gene and the house will be cleaned before I go. The blog will get quiet for the next 4 weeks, but I'll be staying up to date with all the bloggers I follow, probably better than I do when I'm here! Everyone enjoy your spring, be safe and happy. I'll see you all at the end of May.

Parting shot: The Ancients, Peter and Miss Bea.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fond Farewells

Since last September I have been trying to find a home for the donkeys.  It was apparent from early on that they would never coexist well with the horses. I even put my sweet polite Cooper in with them for a couple of days to see if his gentle nature could bring them around. Not happening. Their fear and suspicion level was just too high and too ingrained. It was hard finding a home where they could all stay together. I turned down many offers but finally in March, a good one. They will live on a sanctuary in California, with some mini horses their own size, and should that not work out there is plenty of room for division. They have lived with mini mules and standard sized donkeys in the past. I feel good though because I sent them off to their new homes better than I got them. Their weights were down to normal and their feet in great shape, even the badly foundered mare. They will be on high desert scrub land so little chance of grass founder at least.
They left on Friday. I have to admit, I have missed the morning and evening braying for meals. They always let me know when I was running late.

Also in the farewell category I believe is the lame turkey hen. We saw a small flock of hens and a BIG beautiful tom but no lame hen. She struggled last year to raise her clutch, starting from 10-12 chicks to just 4 young adults as far as I can tell. By the late fall, she was slower and lighter looking than all the others. I might be surprised yet, but I don't think so. Along with the beauty that our location provides and the opportunity to follow our resident wildlife, so to, is the knowledge that their lives are dictated by mostly natural forces and well out of our control. I tamper a little, providing seed for all who come in the fall, winter and spring, a piece of freezer burned meat placed way out on the back 40 for whatever may find it, an extra egg or two doled out here and there for the fox pair and a fresh bucket of water daily for the needy in all seasons.  Our best efforts are to keep the wild places wild and be a good steward of the land.

We have had a stretch of cold weather, changeable grey skies and since it is Monday, it must be a snow day! Two inches of white fell overnight. A little sewing has gone on, a lot of laundry and a big fresh pot of vegetable soup to keep us warm and full over the weekend.

I played with patterns this weekend. Taking my retro raglan pattern and trying something different.

 It needs tweaking, but I love the pull over tunic idea.

I also took the Simplicity pattern (1810A) and did some work with that.

 Making it more A-line and moving it along in evolution towards the perfect tank/cami pattern.

Next iteration will have a scoop neck instead of a V, a little more room in the armholes as the binding does add some bulk, and be shorter for wear under something.

 I had lots of fun with these.

Ghost fabric tag.

There has been a discussion on Pattern Review about making the clothes you really want to wear as opposed to  "pattern fashions", a term coined by Mary in the discussion. To that end, I have finally found a reason to use Pinterest. I have been pinning styles I like and then going through my existing patterns and thinking of ways I can get from them to the pinned look. Talk about sparking creativity and a great way to start learning to draft and drape. It was a push I needed.

 This week the suitcase comes out, the barn will get organized and cleaned a bit, Peter and Miss Bea's pills will be put in daily doses to make life easier for Gene, instructions written, phone numbers updated, packages mailed and the general craziness that precedes my annual exodus to the homeland. Those lobsters must be quaking in their shells!

Parting shot: Smoochie & Robin, just hanging out.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Well, I have to say, I AM feeling better. Not 100 percent but a strong 88 and hopefully over the illness hump. The left eye is finally looking normal again. Gene too has been surfacing more and more for longer and longer periods. I had so many fun things planned for this week that went by the wayside. A Swig & Stitch in Medford Tuesday night, a meet-up with friend Mary on Wednesday and an antique show in Redding CA on Saturday. The last hurrah before I buckle down and get things in order for my upcoming trip. The best laid all know how that one goes.

I did some slow easy sewing, the last of the trip clothing. I did have a bugger matching this pattern. The repeat is deceptively large and as usual, I was pretty thrifty on amounts I purchased.

 This cute organic cotton print by Birch Fabrics  is in a color I adore. Not quite red, not pink but not true coral either. It's the color of a winter tomato. And it has a little fox mixed into the print.

 Someone obviously had me in mind when they went on their spring buying trip. But even without the fox, this print just sings spring and summer.  I couldn't resist adding this little detail to the back.

 It's matched with a second pair of faux FLAX pants in a lovely black and white yarn dye. It reads a beautiful shade of charcoal.  The fabric is a much favored Brussels Washer. I adore this blend. Linen and rayon. Washes and wears like iron, a great all season weight, breathes like linen but the rayon keeps it from excessive wrinkling, holds it color well, good drape and is a dream to sew with. The bonus? It's very modestly priced running between $10.00 and $12.00 per yard. The solids ( like the navy) are the less expensive of the range than the yarn dyes, but at 52" wide, two yards will yield a pair of pants for most. The green wrap top in the previous post is also Brussels Washer so it lends itself just as well to tunics, tops and lightweight jackets. and colors. Now all I have to do is pick the travel wardrobe. Easier said than done!

The week hasn't been without some challenges. The farrier arrived early in the week for spring trims. Needless to say, I didn't much feel like standing out in the chilly morning holding horses, but I did. My two boys came out of the paddock like teenage gangbusters and instead of getting to graze free hand found themselves waiting on the ties at the barn. I will say they were both gentleman when their turn came up. Sweetly lifting each foot for Steve as they started to doze in the sun.  Fox glimpses are consistent and I know the direction of their home base, but with kits likely in the den, I am not going to go looking. Let them do their thing in peace and feel safe with their family where ever it may be located. We have a lone turkey that visits every day or so. I have no idea what has happened to the rest of the little flock. We do hear gobbling up on the hill and down in the gully area front and side of the house. Time will tell if my lame hen made it through the winter.  Other animals are out and about. I heard some pretty serious crashing around one morning, certainly not the foxes who move silently as shadows. Maybe a raccoon pair, maybe an early doe?

Parting shot: Foxy & Omar. I'll get to see this handsome pair of felines soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

And Then There's Green

I love the color green in almost all of its variations, but not all are easy to wear nor would I want to. This tunic is about as close to acid green as I can get in a solid on my upper body.

 Not really lime green, not quite the portion of yellow to tip it into a true chartreuse or acid green. If I stood next to a late model VW Beetle I would blend in well.

Frankly I wasn't wild over the top when I completed it.

This was a first run through on a new to me pattern and there were some things I didn't like right from the get-go.

 One was the hem points. Just too much for me and I knew it, but the wrap provided possibilities for other interesting hem options, so basically I cut the hems without the points, adding a little length for modifications to come. Instead of a true wrap, I attached the left side right into the side seam of the right side instead of a tie. Ditched the facings and did a nice trim bias binding around the neck line and set the sleeves. Then I cut my hem. I like it much better than those hanging points, but still the top didn't send me. BTW, the fit was surprisingly good for a first timer with so many design changes. I left it on Rhonda and moved onto a quick pair of linen blend pants in navy for my trip.

 I can throw this custom Flax copy pattern together in about 3 hours from cutting to hem. And then I was gifted with a length of fun ribbon and low and behold, it was just what the top needed!

That little something something as prttynpnk says.

 It melded the two pieces together in a nice way too.

As far as farm news, it seems we are a household of the walking wounded. Gene has pneumonia and is pretty miserable right now.  The horses both decided to react to their spring boosters and required a second vet visit for Banamine to get lame horses at least moving towards their food and water. Add two hours of hand walking time afterwards in the rain Thursday evening and it's no wonder I feel like the second coming of the cold. And then there is the uncomfortable and ugly stye in the upper eyelid of my left eye. Geez....forget those haircut pics for a little while Michelle! :) The frosting to the weekend has been a spring snow storm. We have 3-4 inches of white stuff where only a few days ago, spring looked like it had sprung for keeps.  The horses are on the mend though, Peter is back to normal and Gene tells me he is feeling slightly improved with the heavy duty meds and bed rest. So, it's all looking up at least as far as my right eye can tell!

Parting shot: Clash of the Tiny Titans!

Friday, April 5, 2013

What If and Why Not?

There are so many reasons people chose to make their own over buying. Be it weaving, sewing, knitting, quilting, jewelry making, painting, gardening and on it goes. Some have very real utility and savings but mostly we love the creative process of our chosen passions. It makes us stretch, mentally and in skill set improvement. And each creative process is as unique as the person wielding it. My Dad, the engineer, approaches his weaving much differently than his artsy-fartsy daughter does and in many cases is much more creative than I am!  Most everything we learn can in some way be applied in other areas of our life whether we know it or not. Learning itself is a skill and the curiosity to continue to learn and be taught are the things that keep us young and engaged no matter what our chronological age. Two self imposed questions have always been a mainstay of my creative process. What if? Why not? I've asked these when developing a new payroll protocol and working a horse, in weaving, quilting and garment sewing. The answers don't have to be big. Small differences are cumulative. Tweaking here and there yields just as pleasing an outcome (and oft times better), as huge global changes. So those two questions came up on the latest sewing projects.

The first was the tried and true Connie Crawford/Butterick blouse B5365, now OOP. Summer is a coming and there right on the pattern front is a short sleeve version with pin tucks instead of the 3 shoulder darts.

Small changes, so off I went with the bolt end length of a light and pretty woven India cotton plaid. No mistakes allowed, this was the last of the fabric. So, sides and shoulders are sewn up, pin tucks in and Rhonda is doing duty as model. I'm thinking I like it without the collar. What if and why not? Why not indeed!

 A summer top with a self bound neckline is cooler and lighter and just as practical.

 Really I sew because I can have it my way. I think you'll agree, less is more with this one.

The second top is the new fun, fast favorite Indygo Junction Retro Raglan. Why do I like this simple pattern so much? The answer is easy. I have broad shoulders and they have never been something I'm fond of. I usually have to go up a size in RTW clothing just to get the shoulders to fit. But the combination of the two piece raglan sleeve and the large open collar do visual magic in making those shoulders look narrower.

Simply put, it's a flattering style so one I want to play with more. What if I could translate this into a blouse rather than a jacket. Why not? So I did and I had great fun adding in some creative details that the fabric design offered. The fabric is a polished cotton and was a bit pricey. I bought a minimum of what I thought I might need with no real pattern in mind. When I settled on this pattern I did not have enough for sleeve matching, so I grabbed the line of writing down by the selvage edge and used it over the two piece sleeve seams.

 The left over bit went onto the right cuff area only. This is a bold print and the pattern offered a bold style to match. With the new Judi Dench haircut, it looks pretty darn good.

The collar lining is some leftover from another sewing project last summer.

 I was surprised I had such a good match for this unusual print.

The last bit of sewing was of a simple shrug/poncho thing. Two rectangles, one longer to provide a drapey neck area. The sides are sewn up only 9 inches to provide an arm hole and keep it from moving around.

 The fabric dictated something simple. This is a waffle weave silk fabric. It was hard to work with and on its own so beautiful I felt I didn't want to torture it into something.

 Best to let it be what it is, soft, springy and with lovely drape. A perfect little neutral cover up for spring and summer. The silk looks it's natural color, a bit towards a soft ivory yellow. Classic and comfy style paired with some loose linen pants. The pictures do this no justice at all!

Parting shot: More from Beaster Day! Thank YOU Valerie for coining that!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Inspiration and Inventories

I can't tell you how often other bloggers supply me with inspiration, directly and indirectly.  Last week friend Mary inspired me on a number of different levels. The first was the surprise book she gifted me with as a birthday gift.

Some amazing creations by a collection of 30 talented artists.


 The second was with her blog post about moving sewing operations into a new space in her house. I don't know about any of you, but a pretty dry basement den complete with 40's real wood paneling, fireplace and antler ambiance would be right up my alley. I wish I had one but you can certainly follow Mary's progress here.

What I do have is a big closet to work in. Complete with dogs so that everything is pre-haired.

 I could colonize a room I suppose, but the truth is I love my little sewing enclave.

 And today I love it more since I spent a good portion of yesterday rearranging, cleaning up and taking inventory. Small spaces are best when organized and that too is appealing. No scanning here and there for stuff, everything in its place and all that. I keep a modest fabric stash and a big pattern stash

 and a ridiculous number of sewing machines.

Obviously a natural born collector.  Sewing machines are small, and useful and interesting. Many are such beautiful examples of form and function with obvious design references to the period in which they were manufactured. And sewing of course provides a direct link back in my childhood and people I have loved. So does 1940's paneling for that matter! :)

All the machines are working. The chrome encrusted Morse has made its way back from Mike at Stage Coach Vintage Sewing.

 He has gone through and refurbished it. Cleaning and detailing and adjusting. The Pfaffs all see lots of sewing. Manual, electronic and computerized, I love every one of them. The Brother is always ready for embroidery work and the Singer Genie was a freebie, the machine I wish I had had as a teenager. The hardest working piece of equipment is the Brother serger. No matter what machine I am sewing on, you can be sure the serger will be in use. It has earned a month long spa retreat and will be dropped off right before I leave for Massachusetts along with one of the Pfaffs.

And Mike was kind enough to have this wonderful Kenmore cabinet just begging for a machine.

When we met up Saturday evening, it was a two for;  Morse sewing machine and vintage cabinet. It's in great condition although that front rattan panel is a bit stained. Maybe an era appropriate fabric panel would be nice there?

In farm news, the horses are blowing coat so heavily I can see where they have been lying down and sleeping. There is so much shed hair on the ground it looks like an equine crime scene outline!

Peter had his dental surgery on Friday. He made it through the 8 tooth removal with flying colors. It was a rocky 24 hours afterwards. At his age they are really slow to bounce back
from anesthesia and the opiate pain medication, but by Saturday afternoon, the fog had lifted and he was looking and acting much perkier, and thankfully eating again.

Parting shot: Peek-a-boo, I see you!