Monday, March 31, 2014

Zombies, Piranhas and Strawberry Shortcake. Oh My!

Well, it IS an eclectic household after all. But let's start with Strawberry Shortcake. On Sunday, March 30, 2014 Stella turned 4 and of course, a little photo shoot was in order to commemorate the milestone.

She decided she was too old now for all the frillies so we just stuck to a newly made strawberry and polka dot bandanna.

In case anyone missed what would become her signature style of camera posing, I offer this as a reminder.

Happy Birthday Stella, may there be many, many more annual photo shoots.

So, lets get to the Piranha's! Stella wasn't the only one to get a bandanna for her new collar, everyone did.
I tried to match fabric to dog, so it was a no brainer that Jack got one out of piranha fabric leftovers.

(yes, Jack has just been reprimanded for attacking the sheep)

As you can see the photo shoot scene disintegrated rapidly after I let everyone up.

 And the zombies? Well, a little bit was bought for Robin's kerchief since it was such a perfect combination of horror, sweetness and humor for the youngest of the pack. The fox stuffie survived, but not without intervention.

In the weaving studio Big Sal is already for sleying.

 Again that learning curve is slowing me down some. I took apart the beater to try laying the reed flat. It was awkward

and the beater is back together now with the reed in it and upright. I am still figuring out the easiest way to sley. They really mean it when they put "production"  into it's name because it can be a lot of work to change out things on this loom. It was made to handle long warps so that once you are done with the fiddly bits you can weave for yards and yards. This past week I was invited into a local weaver's studio to see her AVL in action. Hers was about 10 years newer and had been upgraded to a compudobby, but the mechanics and structure were pretty much the same. I even got to weave a little bit on it. A run of double weave wool blankets in twill that are absolutely gorgeous. Thank you E!

So, in the sewing room a new pattern was tried out: Decades of Style Matinee Blouse.

I loved the neckline but the peplum just wouldn't work for me at all, so from the bust down I redrafted a simple slight a-line shape in one piece and used up this sky blue slinky rayon floral from stash.

 I had bought a yard of a very light weight cotton/lycra blend and used that for the cowl neck.

 I've found these patterns very nice to work with and the sizing spot on. It's always good to have something a bit fancy in the closet!

Coming back to the usual style sewing is this last tunic. I fell in love with Robin's zombies while I was sewing his collar kerchief.

 Of course there was only 1.5 yards left when I went back to Fabric of Vision for more, but one must learn to make do when it comes to zombies I guess. Another fun everyday kind of top.

 Makes me smile and no one will be surprised these days to see me wear it either! Robin has promised not to wear that bandanna should we go out together.....;)

I know I promised a book list post and I have some good ones to share. Next one, really.

Parting shot: Picture taking can be so exhausting.....


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

So, It Got Me to Thinking.....

Biothane; if it can hold up for horse gear why not for dog gear? Now wouldn't it be nice if there were dog collars made from this stuff, NARROW dog collars. And with real buckles and holes instead of those hard to release and bulky plastic snap locks?  So I did a search. If you have bigger dogs then there are a number of places that do dog collars out of biothane or beta biothane. Three quarter inch and one inch are easy to find, half inch not so much. Lo and behold though, I did find a place. American Trail Gear up in Washington state and their raw material is American made, a bonus. The collars were well priced so that everyone could have a new one, and lots of colors too. And since they prefer to talk to each one of their customers, you have to call to place an order. I talked with Diana, you might get Sherri, but either way, the collars are well made and the service top notch. I had my custom made collars within 5 days of ordering. God, I love small companies where what I ask for I get! You can bet if I need to add more collars or leashes or horse gear, I've got their number saved.  Without further ado lets roll out a few pics of these wonderful collars.

Charlotte-Hot Pink!

Jack-Dark Teal 

Robin-Bright Apple Green 


Peter-Sunshine Yellow

Stella-White (Gene refers to this as the "Stealth" collar).

No pics of Smoochie, his collar is neon orange and he is too hairy to even see it.

Up in the sewing room I have been doing quite a bit of stash busting. In fact I have over 10 empty little mini bolts. I showed the pile to Gene and mentioned I needed to do something about the "empties", like fill them. :) No telling how that went over. Grunts can be hard to decipher and eye rolling may or may not be a good thing. I did try out a new to me pattern, twice, with varying results. The first run through of Vogue 1345 I used a bright orange and pale yellow rayon.

 Rayon is soft and drapey, people love it. I understand that but I am not one of them. I am sure it will be cool and comfortable come summer but sewing it is like sewing limp noodles. Since this was a stash buster what I had was all there was. I just made it through the pattern with mere scraps to spare. I didn't even try to match with this new pattern. I knew this was going to be a muslin, a great wearable one around the house and for riding. Good bright colors and some protection from the sun.

The second rendition is also from stash, this time a Japanese cotton dobby. Beautiful fabric that has been marinating long enough. I went down a size, ditched the front opening opting instead for a simple lined bodice and back yoke.

 I also did this sleeveless and shortened the overall length. As the first one, I did not do the collar. I feel it is unnecessary and for me, adds little in the way of design. I like the pattern but am not in love with it.
And let's not forget pockets!

Over the weekend I drafted my own pattern, nothing too complicated. I used my ever faithful Scout tee pattern as a sloper and did a wide A line tunic. The first run through was out of a soft gold oxford cloth from stash. It came out nicely, but not quite A line enough even with the wedged shaped center panel that was drafted for both front and back. (In fact you won't see pics because it is in the laundry. I stole it off of Rhonda when it was done and wore it on Sunday.)  Second version I added volume on the sides to give that twirly effect keeping the A angle the same.

 End it.

 So much so I grabbed my favorite piece of linen from stash. The one I saved after making a top sheet and pillow cases and went to work on it. This is top stitched and embellished to the nines and I had a lot of fun doing it.

 I can see a few more versions and maybe a sleeveless long dress for a hot summer evening.

Big Sal is waiting for me to sley the reed. While our weekend was lovely, this week and next is going to be wet and wild. Rain, snow, thunderstorms, wind. A typical Northwest spring pattern. I had been feeding the horses and goats out in the pasture area, and had gated the horses out of their shelter area. The goats always have access, since they easily can go under anything that keeps the big guys out but it all needed some serious stall mucking. The incoming weather dictated I get it done now since they would need their run in. I did the mucking inside and Gene did the shoveling and carting off of the "debris". Bob is still laid up in town and I'm told a fuel something or other has gone off to Klamath Falls for a rebuild. The cart was probably the better choice as the ground there is still quite muddy and mucky.

Next post I really need to get a book list together and who knows what else will have gone on around the place.

Parting shot: A starving Chunk Russell.....;) I love his little chin.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back in Black

If you are of a certain era, that may leave you with an earworm...... ;)

Really, I'm referring to a closet staple; black pants. In fact a particular pair of black pants that might have been a little responsible for me taking up machine and patterns to restart my sewing journey.

 Years ago (like about 11), I bought a pair of black linen FLAX pants. I love those pants. If there was a fire I might try to save them type love. I am sure everyone has an article of clothing they feel that way about. And it is wonderful to be able to duplicate them. I thank Liesl every time I make pants from this super pattern she made using my old pair. They now have a twin.

I promised finished pics of the floral skulls top and here they are.

 The pockets probably took the longest to match.

 I lined them with scraps of bright orange linen and used the bright yellow linen scraps for a band between the bodice and skirt portion.

 This is again a version using the Scout Tee pattern as a jumping off point. I still have some more ideas for using this pattern but need to get more pattern paper for drafting before those ideas take flight.

There was just enough full width embroidered linen to eek out a top. I had to piece the embroidery onto the sleeves.

 I couldn't resist wanting something to wear out of this lovely fabric. I still have plenty of the plain white portion for pillowcases and will pair them with another linen for hems.

There are two new patterns cut out in fabric waiting their turn. The skull top used black thread and while it was set up in that color I decided to do the pants. Today I'll spend some time with Big Sal and a Sandra Betzina pattern.

Monday Bob looked like this and the roads were a slippery mess.

 Gene opted to wait until yesterday before hauling him down for the spa treatment. I don't know about any other areas but there seems to be a shortage of folks who work on farm equipment around here. Part of it I'm sure has been the economy the last few years. A lot of dealerships have closed their doors and while organic and small farms are plentiful around here, finding someone to work on a well aged Case/IH tractor has not been a walk in the park.

And while we are still visiting black, here is my much loved saddle, all cleaned and conditioned.

 If the Zilco bridle was a good purchase, this Tucker saddle was a great one. Like most horse owners, I have done my fair share of saddle changing. Some fit me and not the horse, some the other way around. I've been through Thornhill, Wintec and Schhumacher. Actually we both loved the Schumacher and I wish to this day I had kept it, but it provided the funds for a secure saddle for Gene to ride in. This saddle has been with me now for 10 plus years and has been a comfortable and safe ride for both of us through many, many mountain miles.

 It fits Dandy just as well as Cooper so when Gene needed a saddle I added a second Tucker. Cooper is short backed, has a good wither and a very round barrel. He needs a saddle with a good wide center channel and a fair amount of rock in it. The Tucker fit him like a glove. Dandy is close in form but with a longer back. We were lucky that we found a saddle that fit both horses well. No shims, no cruppers or breast collars just girth and go. I'm looking forward to spring that's for sure.

Parting shot: Robin "Chunk" Russell.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Wearing of the Green

Okay, everybody gets be a little Irish today. Myself, I come by a bit of the Irish on my mother's side. And why not celebrate a culture and people that gave us chemistry, modern tractors, flavored potato chips and Guinness stout?  To Ireland and it's patron saint Patrick I raise a glass (or two)! I will however not drink green beer. Been there, done that and it wasn't pretty.

So, in my sober moments, which is just about all of them, I started in on threading Big Sal.

 I am much further along than these pictures show, actually about half way done. The loom is comfortable and easy to thread. Put a regular dining chair in there and thread away.

 It did seem awkward at first getting to those back harnesses, but a rhythm came quickly. Bonus, there is no front overhead support structure so when you stand up, you won't hit your head.

I promised a look at a new pattern.

 This linen top/jacket is the Phantom from Sew Chic, a nice little indie pattern company based in Oregon. I used a lightweight sky blue linen, not my usual color choice but the price was right and linen is probably my favorite fabric both to work with and wear.

 The sizing is spot on, the construction straight forward.

 I made one change and that was opting not to make the turned back cuffs. I just don't like them. The second was to grade a little bit more room in the sleeve. I dislike a tight sleeve especially on my forearms. A very comfortable and fun top.

Now, put on your sunglasses, because I don't do florals often but when I do, it's usually bright.
This one is in progress and it's an Alexander Henry cotton print. Okay, so I got some skulls in there too. And birds!

 Not for the shy. I like bold colors and I like patterns that will hide the trials of daily living. This fits the bill. A note on the fabric. This is cotton but truly a step up from quilting cotton. The finish is smooth and well woven, Henry cottons wear like iron and do not suffer from the limp loose weave that many quilting cottons offer. The come out of the dryer with good body, not too many wrinkles and hold their color very well. If you like wild prints Alexander Henry no doubt has something for you. The finished top is on Rhonda, paired with leggings and awaiting it's final photos. Next post.

March is a fickle month here. Yesterday it was so warm and sunny and dry, I took my main steed Cooper out for a spin on the training trail. He's going to be 18 this year. We've been together a long time now and I am always amazed that I can let him sit for months on end and one day knock the mud off, tack him up and have the same horse that I left months ago. The month may fickle but the horse is not. I untacked him up at the house and left saddle, bridle and blanket for a much needed cleaning. The Toklat Woolback pad cleaned up well as did the Zilco trail bridle. In fact it was one of my best purchases way back when. A quick wash and rinse and it looks brand new after 12 years of use. My girth is getting a bit worn looking but still perfectly fine integrity wise. The saddle will get a thorough cleaning and conditioning today or tomorrow.

Dead Bob the tractor is finally on a trailer and heading down for his spa treatment tomorrow.

 It was quite the job getting a non starting tractor on a flatbed with the front bucket down. I avoided Gene for the duration of Saturday afternoon while he struggled with this problem. I would have added nothing to the conversation he and Bob had.....

Over the weekend I did get some time in the garden weeding. A few things are even flowering, the hellebore

and phlox are happy campers.

 bee balm is growing nicely,

 and many other things beginning to set bud and grow including grass and weeds.

 It looks like a conservative 75% of what I planted made it, likely more....

Parting shot: I see you! The garden watch cat.