Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Scrap Heap

I think anyone who works with fiber in one form or another has one. Thrums left over from weaving, or sample lengths of woven goods, bits and bobs.  I always have left over scraps of fabric and sometimes a yard or a bit more. There are very few zero waste patterns but some patterns are better than others. Some just seem to have been dreamed up by fabric companies wanting you to buy scads of yard goods. At some point in time, I at least, need to clear out some of those fabric pieces I've saved. If it is too small for a good sized pocket I toss it right away, otherwise I fold it or roll it up and save for little embellishments here and there. I especially love it when a pattern is made to use smaller lengths of fabrics. It helps use up some of that stash heap or allows for you to use just a little of something expensive or dear to showcase. A pattern by Anna Maria Horner was brought to my attention.

 The Painted Portrait Dress is one such pattern. I never would have looked twice at this pattern because I wasn't wild about the top used for the front picture. Patterns, like books, should not be judged by their cover! This pattern has a lot of opportunities to use some creativity. I muslined it in all leftover fabrics and I love the result.

 I made a fair amount of changes. I drafted out a bit more room overall, as the ease on this pattern is pretty skimpy. I did not do the lined bodice. It is fussy, fiddly and uses more fabric. Just as easy to do one layer and a neck binding.

 The sleeves have a lot of ease and they want a little puff in them. I don't. I struggled with them this time but will redraft the head for next time, remove the back gathers on the lower skirt, raise the pockets, add an inch to the length of the front bodice and probably cut the front neckline a little lower. Seems like a lot of changes but really all of them with the exception of the sleeve are quite easy to do.

I have been doing a little weaving, not as much as I wanted. We have left blue towels and gone onto green.

 I like the green. I'm going to do two of these and then I think I'm going to call it quits on this warp.

I want to change out the back beam to the plain one, add the treadle risers and get some nice white cottolin or linen on Big Sal. There have also been some major changes in the weaving studio. I did what I thought I would never do. I sold the Louet Delta.

 As much as I loved the loom, I wasn't utilizing it. I am not a production weaver by any stretch of the imagination. I just don't need 3 big looms all in the 42-48" range. And I really love the AVL.  What I do need and want is a small portable loom. I've always needed that and this year especially I would love to have a loom I can wheel out and use on the deck. Maybe someday catch a workshop or go and weave with a friend. I want options. To that end I'm looking at both Gilmore and Macomber looms, the Gem II and the Baby Mac. I would love to find a used one of either of these but my chances are slim, so it will probably have to be a new purchase. If anyone has woven on one of these looms (or both!), I would LOVE to have some feedback on them. Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me directly.

In farm news life goes on. Rodger is sorely missed. I want to thank each of you for all the love, sympathy and support you have offered. It truly does help. Someday we will have another house cat, the universe will no doubt provide when the time is right. The two barn kitties supply a quick purr fix when one can catch up with them. The horses are pretty fat (and yes, I have gotten out for a couple of rides), and the goats supply a lot of entertainment. Especially when they try to "sneak" into the garden (bells on the collar) and get sprayed by the scarecrow.

 The deer have not pestered the garden at all at this point. Fingers crossed for continued success there. The garden is looking quite wonderful and mature.

I think that's all I have right now... : )

Parting shot: Who dat?


Monday, May 26, 2014

Lost Good-Byes

I've been holding up this post hoping to see my eye catching (and handsome!), white cat wander from the woods wondering why we're all fussing over him. But it would seem that is not to be.

Last Thursday was a morning just like most mornings, up at 3:30, throw dogs out, let cat out and feed.
Except, sometime between 3:30 and 7:15 something went wrong. Rodger the cat didn't come back with me from feeding the horses, nor was he waiting on the deck. Buzz was missing too, but he is shy and that isn't all that unusual. I go to town early on Thursday, meet a friend for breakfast, so at 7:15 I was in the car and heading down the driveway when I spotted the 4 small bright white tufts of fur on the side, softly held by grass and gravel. I stopped, they were brilliant white, there was a touch of black on one of the tufts. Maybe Buzz and Rodger had a little tiff?  But still....I heard nothing and that is almost always a noisy affair.

Today is Monday, Buzz is back, he was in line for his feeding Thursday night. Rodger is not. After almost 15 years my tried and true kitty is no longer answering my calls. The garden is missing its cat and the dogs have no one to tease and then make up with in time for naps.

 The special sunny spot on the deck is empty all day as is the special shady spot. Peter has the comfy chair to himself at night. I give a call morning and evening and many times in between. What I wouldn't give give for another Hello instead of a late Good-bye.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat

Now you all may think this is going to be a post about the Bruins loss to Montreal in game 7 of the second round of play-offs. And that would be a good guess, but let me assure you, I have already done all my crying over that. Well, most of it.

This is really about three new patterns, two of them failures and one destined to become a TNT (tried and true).

So care to venture a guess which ones failed and which one was a success?

These two were the utter failures. The Decades of Style Stardust skirt was a winner. Saves were accomplished on both the Japanese tunic pattern and the McCalls mock wrap pants. But first I had to identify what I liked about each pattern before I could go forward. The Japanese book pattern, it was the sleeves and the cute neckline. For the McCalls it was  the pretty drapey pleat that sarong tie made.

So, lets think about this. I went ahead and copied and redrafted a whole pattern to get a neckline and a split sleeve tunic. The body fit well after drafting but the sleeve and armhole was a bugger and the voile fabric was beginning to show the effects of taking it in and out even with basting. I recut everything to a long Scout T and added the neck detail.

 I ran out of fabric and barely squeaked out two new sleeves needing length which was cobbled on with some selvage detail as an added bonus...well maybe. As it was I used a different voile scrap for the neck binding. I had bought the last 3 yards of this fabric. It will be much easier to redraft a sleeve I know is well fitting to have that cute split detail than a whole new tunic. Lesson learned...NOT.

Now to the McCalls pattern. If I had taken the time to apply that lesson from the tunic above, I would have saved a lot of time, effort and fabric. Instead I squandered all three. The pattern as shown is a one piece leg. OMG, the whole thing was HUGE. I came downstairs in it, with a tunic over the tied and folded and rolled waist (anything to keep it up), and DH asked what clown shoes I had in mind to go with it. DH rarely comments on the clothing either good or bad. He wisely stays neutral, so we both had a good laugh and up I went to try to save the pretty but difficult rayon crepe. There was more of this at the store but not near enough for a full pair of pants. I had to take the whole mess apart. I got both backs from the old pieces and was able to get enough fabric to make new pant fronts and waistband from the yard and a bit left on the roll.

 What I wanted was the pretty fluid pleat and by taking my TNT pant pattern that is what I got. I added a front pleat. It was so EASY!

 The only reason I went with a rayon was for the McCalls pattern because after all it was only one seam...., but let me tell you, waistbands in slippery rayon are no fun. Still a good save and a pretty summer pant.

The star of the week is the Decades of Style skirt.

 I even used a knit and liked it! This skirt is thrifty, using under 2 yards of fabric, well drafted and easy as all get out to put together.

 The gores on one side give it a little style and movement.

 I did elastic in the waistband on this stable ponte knit since it was unnecessary to install a zipper. In a woven fabric I will do the zip of course.

Last week was warm and almost summer like. I got a fair amount done in the garden; daily watering for the area that was wildflower seeded, had a lovely ride on Cooper one day, said good-bye to friend Mary in Klamath Falls another day and gave all the toys back to the small and needy bunch of fur kids over the weekend. Laundry made it out to dry in the fresh air and Peter and I took a lot of short walks. It was a full week, complete with a little drama and the easy relaxing flow of the mundane. A little bit of everything.

Parting shot: My escort to the upstairs. We certainly like ears of distinction in this household!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Really, This Counts as Spring Here

The finale of a wet week was snow on Saturday.

 At six in the morning this was our world.

 By four in the afternoon sunshine and lightness had arrived!

 To steal a phrase from Michelle over at Boulderneigh, weather whiplash!

But that is not why you are stopping in. You all want a Stella update. She is doing great. Here is the wound as it looked on Saturday,

 and today, a week post-op it looks even better. Thank you all for your MANY comments and well wishes. They were greatly appreciated by all of us. I am always amazed at how resilient and stoic dogs are and how sweet and kind the people who follow this blog are! Not a peep was heard from her through any of this. Well, okay, she whined in the car while we drove home but that was mostly due to anesthesia. She was on pain medication two days. Tuesday and Wednesday and by Thursday was unearthing long forgotten toys in the dog yard. They are all stuffed in a drawer with her balls. Every evening it is a pitiful sight to see her sit by that bank of drawers and whine quietly for one of us to take one out to play with. If we look at her she gets louder and the tail starts up.  I'm betting by weeks end we can release those toys from storage. I sure hope so.

The bird activity has increased at our feeders.

 We feed year round. I might have to bring in the feeder under the tree if we see bear activity or the deer get rowdy with it. The raccoons have already prompted me to redo how it hangs. At night I have to bring in one of the feeders that hang off the deck. The foxes still come for their egg nightly, one or the other I can't tell.  This weekend we will put the fountain back out in the garden now that I feel pretty confident that freezing temps are a thing of the past or in a distant future. I spent a fair amount of time plotting, planning and weeding once the sun came out. Gene and I spread a pound of wildflower seeds on some of the areas in the back and side of the house. We'll see how that goes if at all. Every day I will need to go out and lightly water the areas but that's okay. The birds love the mist coming off the hose and fly through the little rain shower. At least it is entertaining!

Up in the sewing closet new patterns are in process and I'm giving some stable knits a try. I did design and finish something I wished I had last spring and summer. A linen duster.

 I had scads of rich red linen in stash. I modified a favorite pattern from Indygo Junction. Made the neck higher, ditched the collar all together, lengthened and A lined out the body of the garment and made the sleeves longer. I decided against closures. I was going to do a single tie, but decided to look for a vintage kilt pin to use instead, otherwise, I'll just leave it open.

 This will be part of my travel wardrobe to MA this summer. Most of the time I spent in the sewing area has been adjusting and cutting out those new patterns. Nothing else to show right now but tubs full of stuff waiting to be sewn.

Parting shots: Mr. Ears, seamlessly becomes another lump in the pack.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The 60's Are Calling

And it wants its fabric back!

 Seriously, this fabric is vintage late 60's, a 36" width and has enough staying in it to almost stand up. Upon washing this will wrinkle like nobodies business. But I planned for all that with this oversized 60's inspired peasant dress/tunic pattern. Indygo Junction's Audrey's Afternoon Dress did an audition up in my sewing room.

 I made no changes to the pattern per se, but I opted not to do elastic either in a hem or a binding strip as a casing in the neck. I like my binding to lie flat and not be gathered along with the body of the dress. It was fiddly getting everything basted and adjusted but worth it. I also just hemmed the sleeves. I can't stand the feel of elastic on my arms or wrists. I'll make this again no doubt and when I do I'll draft some of the neck and sleeve volume out and that's it. An easy pattern, lots of fun for summer in some lawn or voile, and lots of options. Belt it, make it maxi, make it blouse length, or run elastic through a casing and do an empire waist on it. Groovy!

While we're going through the sewing area, here is the finished ivory double cotton eyelet tunic.

 It's turned into a very formal garment really. This would have been a beautiful fabric for a simple elegant wedding dress, lined in a voile maybe. In any event it was French Wasp ribbon worthy for embellishment.

Last up is a quick tank/cami top (Simplicity 1810 I think), using a printed eyelet from last summer.

 It needs hemming and some thread snipping but should be ready to go assuming the weather ever gets summer like.... Cool and cloudy, lots of rain and some snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow.

Gene has been out of town up at a Fire Chiefs annual convention/seminar thing. The state likes them all to go to these things as new techniques are discussed and rules etc. He gets a break from the every day stuff and I get to captain the mother ship so to speak.

And the mother ship has had a rocky week. Just as DH was getting ready to head out of town Tuesday, Stella decided to jam a piece of wood up into the gum by one of her top canines. Gruesome and painful.

 It meant a trip to the vet, anesthesia, removal, stitches, worry and a dog that can't have any toys or hard crunchy food for 10 days. The canine was saved  but it has been pure misery for an active little terror like Stella with nothing to occupy her time. Of course that means no one else can have toys since Stella would steal them. Oh Joy! Family, when one suffers we all suffer. ;)

But there were some highlights too. Friend Mary, (who is abandoning Oregon for Arizona) and I got together Sunday for fabric shopping and lunch. A last Ashland hurrah so to speak. I'm hoping to get over to Klamath Falls in the next two weeks for the final good-bye, at least until I plan a visit out to sunny AZ. ;)

The warp for the Delta is measured and tied, waiting for a little warm up weather wise since it is pretty chilly out in that back room right now. I don't "do" the wood boiler while Gene is gone. It hates me, but the little Morso wood stove is always pleasant and that's what I've been running for heat, but it is small (Squirrel size) and the house big. I don't need to add an uninsulated room to its load.

Parting shot: Cuddles and comfort.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Break Out

You know, the older a horse gets the sneakier he gets! Or maybe no good deed goes unpunished. Wednesday morning I haltered both the boys and let them into the little bit of grazing next to their paddock. The goat pen makes one line of fencing, their electric fence makes another and for years, one strand of tied together baling twine closes off an open end. My standing by the other watching closes the other, but we do have a piece of electric tape I could tie across too. Well, Coop decided he wanted a blade of grass on the other side of that twine, and look, my shoulders can lift it if I have my head down.
Then of course, escape was obvious. Dandy who panicked to see his friend heading for greener pastures figured it out in a nano second and followed. Goats in tow, bolting around and bleating.  They didn't go too far, up one of the back trails and were munching away. Carrots are always a suitable catching treat and of course, the halter and lead ropes are on. It earned me a little sunburn.  It earned Gene another item on his To Do list, replacing the twine with any spare electric tape. Brats!

Up in the sewing room (where few things escape), I managed to finish a requested project. Two aprons for the nice ladies at American Trail Gear.

 They are the folks that made the dog collars for me and after looking at my blog, they thought maybe would I, could I make a couple of simple aprons. I don't usually do sewing for other people, but oh heck, why not. These are in process pics. No pics of them finished but we had some snaps (to close up that big pocket a little), and of course, nice long ties. The horse print is one big pocket but there is a smaller inner pocket too.

New fabric is arriving at Fabric of Vision and it is a real TREAT for me this year. I get to see the fall selections as they come in, but since I am usually in MA right now, I miss the spring summer stuff. A lot of it is gone by the time I get back, but not this year! And there is a lot of stuff to love. I made a list for cripes sake and it is long. I procure a little at a time, some items drop off my list because they are sold, or maybe while I love it, I'll never work it into my wardrobe, and then others, after first blush, I don't love as much as I thought. Here are a couple of fabrics that just had to come home with me.

A beautiful silk with a very graphic fox in the grass on it.

 It's in a plumy brown and a warm dark almost coral sepia tone. A dark brown plaid linen. Medium weight and perfect for pants. It also picks up those coral tones and can read dark dark plum.

 I love fabrics that have some depth of color and both of these pieces do.

Lastly, and in process is an unusual all cotton double cloth eyelet.

 The embroidered eyelets hold the two layers together. The bottom layer is a soft linen weave and the top, a lightly crinkled  sateen cotton which feels like a smooth silk.

 It's beautiful stuff and in a lovely rich ivory color. I'm using the Sew Liberated Schoolhouse tunic pattern because while this is light in color, the fabric is not light and airy, this is a good spring/fall fabric and with it's deeper ivory color an easy alternative in winter too.

Big Sal is rolling along. Towels in different colors.

This one is a dark blue with a light grey band. I'm actually over half done with this now and just a couple of inches from the second band and final weaving to the end. Then we'll try dark green. The evenness of the tension is much improved.

The warm weather meant a fair amount of time in the garden, pulling weeds and seeing what was thriving and what wasn't. The witch hazel did nothing more than that one bloom and didn't bother with leafing out. It just wasn't going to make it. Could be the site, the dirt, the elevation, but out it came. The American Bittersweet looks like it is going to like it's placement. It came as bare root stock in March and had a rough start with all the cold but this is a hardy vine in general and it is showing a full array of green leaf buds up and down all it's branches. A bright orange Oriental Poppy went in as did a Pasque Flower. I found a couple of Apache Plumes locally. This a native western shrub, tough and deer resistant and I have high hopes for it. They are in a hot dry area off the walkway where I am starting a little area of ornamental grasses and such. The Black and Blue Salvia is going gangbusters and the Paperbark Maple is starting to bud and leaf out. Spring comes slow up here. The daffodils are just now giving way to tulips after a good long showing. The hellebores are done with flowers and concentrating on leaf growth, and the Bee Balm is looking lush and happy. Pictures soon.

Parting shot.Temptation!