Friday, January 30, 2015

Introducing the Gucci Bear

My latest custom bear is one of my favorites in a long time.  My customer said this sweater belonged to her father, who bought it in Italy on a family vacation 35 years ago.

It still had the original Gucci label inside the neck.  She asked for that back separately, but told me that I could do whatever I wanted with the rest of the sweater.

As you can see, the sweater had these dark green and red bands at the shoulders and around the sleeves.  I needed to use some of that for the ears and foot pads, to break up all the ivory knit (which looks and feels almost like thermal underwear, so it wasn't too bad to work with).

I cut a wide edge on the rest of it and place it like a pageant sash across his chest, so that the woven Gucci name would show.

Because I didn't have any ribbon that even came close to matching the red or dark green, I used ivory -- turns out that I had an exact match there.  Go figure, the Crayola Queen had a neutral in stash.

That's my last custom piece for the moment, but I'm always looking forward to the next order -- these are so much fun to do.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How many days till Spring?

So maybe we didn't get the Snowpocalypse Bombogenesis Blizzard of 2015 (and I'm so thankful we didn't), but it's still winter, and I'm getting a little tired of gray skies and cold winds.

The cold drafts in my house are at least less this year, and I'm pleased because that means my efforts at covering every crack with a combination of draft-sealing tape, plastic sheeting, foamcore board and (in the workroom) fleece blankets, has paid off.  It's nice to be able to sew in the sewing room in January this year.

But since it is indeed still January, I've been thinking spring.  It doesn't help that I've already applied for / booked my first 2 April shows, so my mind is already where my body is not.

And that means I've inevitably started making stock for spring shows.  One of the things that always goes well in the early shows are my toddler dresses.  And after a long stretch of teddy bear and recycled sweater animals, they were literally a breath of fresh air for my wool-clogged brain and sewing machine!

These are also all recycled -- the first one, candy pink and white stripes, was made from a woman's blouse.  The green and white floral trim (facings too), was left over from a dress I made last year.

The orange butterfly dress was made from a particularly obnoxiously wonderful scrubs top -- if they're not surgical green, they have some of the best prints!  It needed nothing more than some lime green rickrack and a few daisy appliques to finish it off.

Last one is my favorite, though the least photogenic.  It's made from a blue and white floral H&M blouse that would never accommodate an adult female boob, much less a pair of them -- even after I picked out all the darts.  But it was large enough to cut a size 3 dress out of, and I was able to use the original front button placket up the back of the dress, thus saving myself from making 5 buttonholes!

The decoration on the front is a piece of vintage white cotton lace surrounded by varying sizes of yoyos cut from the leftover pink stripe.  I don't know why the yoyos, it just struck me to put them there and now I think they look like roses climbing a fence.  Your experience may vary.

Next up: one final custom bear from 2014 -- the customer made her purchase two days after Christmas but then got delayed in sending her fabrics.  They just arrived, so I think that's what I'll be doing today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How Bonnie got her groove back

You haven't heard a lot about Bonnie lately because there's not bee a lot to talk about.

She molted late this year, and only this weekend did she start laying again.

Molting is a strange thing.  She seems to completely lose her urge or instinct to lay, which is good I suppose, since all of her energy -- and all of her protein intake -- is put toward growing new feathers.  (I hadn't realized until I got chickens that feathers are mostly made out of protein, and that if a bird is trying to grow feathers, she can't lay eggs at the same time).

Bonnie didn't start losing her feathers until after Thanksgiving, so she was basically chicken skin and pinfeathers all the way through Christmas, and through all the really cold weather we had.  She didn't come down out of the roost except to eat and drink, and she did that with an attitude.

But Sunday when I checked on her, there was a blue egg in the nest box -- the first one pictured.  Monday produced the second egg, and today was the third.

For contrast, I've included a large egg from the farmer's market on Saturday.  Even the first egg, which is dented on top but solid, is bigger.  The second egg has a serious point and by egg three, she seems to have gotten back into her stride -- it's more blue, it's the right shape.  And it's huge.

She's never taken a 2 1/2 month hiatus before, and I admit to thinking random thoughts of chicken stew in the crockpot, but she's redeemed herself -- at least for now.

Breakfast for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A tale of two kitties

You could subtitle this one, "She loves me, she loves me not."

Kitty on the bottom is Lily, who adores me not just because I feed her and coddle her and treat her like the feline queen that she is, but because at 16 plus, she's mellowed enough to realize that it's no skin off her furry behind to like a human.

Kitty on the top is Bear a/k/a Louise a/k/a Weezy, who pretty much loathes me.  I brought her in as a kitten, and she feraled as she grew up.  I am occasionally permitted to touch her, but only if she's eating some of Lily's leftover wet food (which she growls at like it's a fresh kill).  She doesn't groom, so she has mats that stick out all over.  Generally instead of petting her when I have the chance, I grab the nearest pair of scissors and cut off her mats, because they make me crazy.

These two generally do not get along, much less share space, so when they decided to share their favorite chair, I had to take this.  And share it, so they can't say later that it never happened.

Monday, January 12, 2015

And an update

For anyone who wondered whatever happened with my book, I've got a bit of an update for you.  I heard from my agent recently; she's going to start pitching my book to publishers in February, so this month is dedicated to a few last minute tweaks and edits.

The agent I went with is an editorial agent, which means she feels free to make suggestions about the manuscript (before it gets to a publisher, who might make the same suggestions anyway).  Considering that I like rewriting far more than I like writing, this is not a problem.  I just sent in the most recent version of the book and I'm waiting to hear back.

Interestingly, two of the agents who turned down the book made the same constructive criticism about the opening, and it was something I'd been thinking about myself but not sure how to change.  After they each said the same thing, it became absolutely clear what was wrong and I was able to rewrite the first two chapters.  So I thank those two agents for turning me down with comments, instead of just "thanks, but no thanks," because it definitely gave me a better project in the long run.

In sewing news, nothing much new here.  At the end of the holiday season, my stock was pretty much depleted from all my craft shows, and the stores that I deal with were low as well, so I'm just trying to  rebuild the supplies at this point.  I've got an appointment to drop off a half dozen bears at a store in Center City Philadelphia tomorrow, so I should stop typing and get them finished off.  The two bears pictured here are some of tomorrow's delivery.