Friday, August 31, 2012

As the Crow Flies

Don't worry, this isn't turning into an embroidery blog.  I'm still working on my boucle jacket, I just got hung up waiting for the zipper to arrive (because I can't order these things before I start sewing), and now that the zipper is here and installed, I have to face up to cutting into that chocolate charmeuse lining.  I'm not in the mood for dealing with slippery, but it has to be done.  I keep reminding myself how good it will feel when I wear it.

** Speaking of zippers, I ordered mine from Wawak, formerly Atlanta Thread.  They promise that your order will ship next day.  I didn't get a shipping email the next day, so I wondered  if maybe they weren't as good as AT was.  Two days after that, I get an email - my package had shipped.  Which wouldn't have been funny except I'd already received the box that day, opened it and gotten the zipper installed before the email arrived.  So anyone who's worried about the changeover, don't be.  Their emails may be slow, but shipping is not.

Long weekend ahead.  Quite a few chores planned, but the jacket will be complete by the end of it.  Check back then if you can't take any more embroidery.  :)

Best thing about it: it gives me something to do at lunchtime at work.  It's a nice head cleaner on a busy, stressful day to be able to take 15 or 20 minutes and stitch.  This particular piece is called Celtic Ravens, from the Urban Threads Celtic Majesty collection.

Except I'm calling them crows.  This piece was made as a gift.  The recipient has always considered seeing crows in pairs as a sign of good luck.  I'll be visiting her in October and I wanted to take a present.  Aside from the fact that she will appreciate a handmade gift (how often does that happen, really?) I thought this would be something special that she could put up in the house.  I made it as a wall hanging as opposed to a pillow or something because she has 3 dogs, a few cats and a farm, so anything on the wall is bound to last longer.

The other reason I'm doing so much embroidery is I'm going to be teaching a class at the local arts league this fall, and I'd rather not feel like Marge Simpson, trying to stay one class ahead of her students.  I'm trying to re-teach myself what I've forgotten, learn some new stuff and just become comfortable again with a needle in my hand.  The outline work on this piece was a combination of back stitch and split stitch, both of which I can move really quickly at now.  The fill-in work is chain stitch, which I really like for less than solid (i.e., not satin stitch) fill, except for when I miss the loop bringing the needle back down and the whole damn chain unravels behind me.

Judging by tone, you know that's happened more than once.  But less often, these days.

Jacket by Monday.  I promise.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sewing and Swearing

So I've decided how to deal with my lack of motivation.  I'm going to ignore it, along with the fact that it's still summer, and start sewing for fall.  This won't solve the temperature problem in the workroom, but unless it gets particularly hellish in there, I'm pretending it's October.

That matter being decided, I picked a fall project and jumped in.  Of all the jackets I've ever made (and there are many, jackets being one of my favorite things to sew), BWOF 8/06 #108 is oneof my absolute favorites.  Of course, the August 2006 issue may be the best Burda magazine of all time, but that's just my opinion.

I've made #108 before in muted green/blue plaid that I bought on vacation in Florence, but I wear it so often, and like the fit so and style so much, I'm making it again, this time in a vibrant orange/gold/brown boucle bought a year or two ago from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Boucle.  Lovely stuff, if it doesn't drive you crazy.

This is driving me a bit crazy.  There are threads and shreds and fuzzies everywhere, even with block fusing interfacing to the fabric.  Everywhere.  I'm afraid to look in the machine.

Between its unwillingness to hold its shape and the jellylike consistency of the chocolate silk charmeuse I'm using for a lining, interfacing and the zipper will be the only things holding this jacket in shape.  But they will be enough.  I always think that fabrics like this will end up looking like one big mushball, and somehow they know to pull themselves together and become a structured garment.  Don't ask me how they know; maybe they're just afraid that if they don't cooperate they're going to join all those loose threads and shreds in the waste basket.

(Never happen, but the fabric doesn't have to know that).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A little housecleaning

*** All patterns have been claimed.  Thank you!

A friend is cleaning the accumulation of the ages from her apartment.  She used to sew quite a bit but no longer does (a condition I don't understand even with my partial summer away from the machine) and found a large stash of patterns in the closet.

I've put these up in the classifieds on Patternreview, but I thought I'd show them here as well.

#106 - Turkish coat (cut, size 10)

#261- Paris Promenade Dress (sizes XS - XL, uncut)

#129 - Japanese Hapi and Haori (mens & womens sizes, uncut)

#122 - Hong Kong Cheongsam (sizes 6-16, uncut)

#118 - Tibetan Panel Coat (sizes 6-18, uncut)

These have been sitting in a box for a while. There is wear to the envelope on #129, but the pattern is uncut. #106 as noted was cut, but all pieces and instructions are there. She's asking $5 per pattern, free shipping.  Let me know if you're interested.


Her name is Big Bertha.  Not Frieda Lay.  Not funny, says the big golden hen who apparently now rules the roost.

Pecking order established by breakfast time this morning.  It should be so easy with people.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

There's a New Chick in Town

It's taken a bit longer than I expected, but as of this evening, there's a new chick in the coop.  We picked her up after work at a local urban farm - they have 25 or so chickens but since they sell their eggs, they only want to keep younger, higher-producing hens.  This one is about 2 years old, so she and Bonnie are the same age.

The farmer who handed her off had a few hens to re-home, but since I could only take one he asked if I would take this particular one - she's his favorite but he doesn't want to be sentimental and keep a lower-production bird just because of her hard luck story.

See her bald spot?  He called her Scalpie, because when she was a young bird she was attacked by a raccoon and her comb was torn off.  He nursed her back to health and hand-fed her because the infection from her wound caused her not to be able to see for a week.  But she's healthy now, just a little strange-looking.

Her odd head is more than balanced by her plumage.  She's a Buff Orpington, basically a golden blonde, wide-bodied hen.  She's good in cold weather, so I won't need to worry this winter.  She's a big girl.

I thought Bonnie was big.  I introduced her new roommate and Bonnie was dwarfed.  They hung out, side by side, nibbling on veggies for about 10 minutes, then Bonnie puffed up all her feathers and jumped on her new friend.  Who promptly sat on her and pecked at her head until Bonnie apparently said "Uncle" or whatever chickens say when they give in to a superior strength.  This went on 4-5 times until Bonnie gave up and went to roost.

It took a while for the new girl to figure out how to get up to the roost, and then to squeeze her wide behind through the door, but she got there.  And decided, for some reason, not to get on the roost but to sit in the straw under it.  And under Bonnie.  Who will crap on her all night (because she can't help it and because she'll enjoy it).

I'm sure paybacks will begin at first light.  I'm getting up early tomorrow.

I can't just call her the new girl.  She's big.  She's blonde.  She's bossy.  I can't call her Brunhilde, because I'd shorten that to Hilda (which is too close to Gilda).  I'm wavering right now between Frieda and Helga.  I'm thinking Frieda.

Frieda Lay.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2 Projects Done

Sorry to blow my own horn here, but it's been so long since I feel like I accomplished anything, I'm happy to have 2 things done now.

First off, the Urban Threads Day of the Dead kitty, which I'm quite pleased with.  It didn't start out to be a pink cat, but how often do my projects at completion resemble my original idea?  The pink happened sometime after I started filling in the flowers, and I realized that pink was just about the only color I hadn't used for the flowers.

Not entirely sure what I'm going to do with this little guy (despite his pinkness, he's definitely a boy kitty), but I'm getting an idea.  It's not a me idea, so I'm resistant at this point.  We'll see where it goes.

** For Kathi G, who asked, I used a tight chain stitch to fill in the pink.  The solid areas are satin stitch, and the outline is backstitched.  Nothing earthshaking here, but it does the job.

Second project: a remake of an old dress, Burda 5/2008 #121.  I loved the dress in its heyday, but the fabric in the bodice really started to stretch out and show its age, so I knew it wouldn't get any wear as it was.  The dress spent a week or two marinating on the workroom table, and then I took scissors to it so I couldn't change my mind.

After that, it became the cowl version of KwikSew 3036.  The resulting top somewhat mimics the original Burda design - kimono sleeves, black contrast fabric.  Obviously it's not cut down to there, but sometimes that's okay.  Especially for work.

Despite how much fabric there was in the dress, there wasn't that much to work with after cutting it up.  Obviously the top wasn't salvageable, so that left the skirt.  Because of the cut-on sleeves, the pieces needed to be wider than anticipated, and somehow I ended up shortish on length.  I had planned a black bottom band anyway; I just made it a little wider and then ruched up the sides for interest (which of course shows not at all in the photos).

I wouldn't go to this much trouble remaking any old dress from my wardrobe, but I bought this fabric in Paris in 2008 when I met up with Trena, so it was a special dress.  And now it's a not-quite-as-special top, but that's better than sending it off to the thrift store.

Now I just wish it would cool off a little - the idea of wearing a cowl right now is enough to break me out in hives.  And probably that's why it took me 2 weeks from start to finish on something as simple as a knit top.

If nothing else, finishing this top has forced me to remember that I do know how to use my sewing machine, and that it's not 110 degrees in the workroom right now, just a balmy 85 or so.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Still here

And there's even been some sewing.  Hopefully I'll have something to show by tomorrow.  It's just a top, but still, it's the first time I've been in the workroom for a significant period and accomplished anything in the last 2 weeks, so yay me!

I had off from work Thursday and Friday, and had all kinds of grand plans.  And karma bit me in the butt, in the sense that Max had an episode Thursday after lunch that caused him to be carted off to the vet (by taxi), to be poked, prodded, tested and sent home with several potential diagnoses and some medication that would control most of them.

I came into the bedroom and he was panting.  Panting is generally a stress reaction, so I got him up and made him walk, just to see how he was acting.  He hugged the wall and was swinging his head from side to side in an odd way, almost as if he couldn't see.  His back legs seemed weak.  He wasn't really interested in food and water.  Because of his diabetes, I was thinking any number of alarming things.  I called the vet, they told me to bring him down to get checked out.  He continued to pant and cry in the cab, and got sick twice.

At the vet, his blood glucose was normal, so it wasn't a standard diabetic reaction.  An x-ray was clear for tumors or anything pressing on a nerve.  So what was it?  Their two best guesses are an asthma attack or a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lung).  Diabetic animals do throw clots, and that would explain the respiratory distress and possible the other weird symptoms.  Of course, panic from not breathing could explain some of them as well.  Asthma?  He's 14, and first he develops diabetes and now asthma?  I'm almost hoping for the clot; it's more of a one-time thing.

They could do a bunch of tests and give me a more definitive answer, but then I'd have to put Max through all those tests and me having a definitive answer wouldn't really do anything to help him out.  I don't want him tortured with tests and medicines and chronic stuff.  He's old; he's getting tired; and he deserves an easy end.  If it's a little sooner than I'd like, then so be it.  I'd rather let him go than keep him going, for me.

All that being said, by last night he was eating okay and climbing the steps again, so it seems to be resolving on its own, at least for now.

And this is also by way of introduction to my latest piece of embroidery, El Gato Muerto from Urban Threads. If not for Max, then it's a tribute to all the wonderful cats who've passed through my life over the years, and the many still to come.  There will be colors - lots of them - but for now it's just an outline.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Not sewing, but still fashion

Jeez, the silence is deafening around here.

I can even hear the chicken clucking in the back yard because the sewing machine certainly isn't drowning her out.  I don't know if it's the heat, work, or just general lack of motivation, but there's been seriously no sewing going on lately.

Mario was away all last week and when he left I know he expected to come home to a woman who'd had almost no sleep, too much wine and a whole new wardrobe.  Alas, it was not to be.  I got some sleep, did have too much wine, and sewed . . . about half a knit top.  It's still not done.

I'm on a roll right now with clearing out the house.  I've been here for 11 years but it seems that the accumulation of the ages has sprung up when I'm not looking.  Good thing there's a thrift store down the street where I can take it all.  Oh, wait, that's where a lot of it came from.

Either way, there were half a dozen boxes in the hall by the time he got home, and I haven't stopped yet.  I've also dug out more of the boxes of family stuff, photographed it and am putting it up on Etsy.  Because I can't wear it all, and it needs to be out in the world (and not in my house).

So since I'm not sewing, and have nothing to show you there, I'll share some of the hats I'm listing.  This isn't an advertisement, or a plea to go empty my Etsy shop - though feel free, if something grabs you - I just think these are beautiful, and wish women still wore hats on a daily basis.

If that were the case, I'd be getting rid of something else and keeping these.