Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday update...


in which we learn why our plucky heroine avoids the coffee and the tea (most of the time)

It is a home truth that caffeine and I are not friends. While the two cups of tea I drank yesterday afternoon seemed to only have the effect of making me unrelentingly chatty and silly while Tullia was here, the drug also had the effect of making it very difficult for me to wind down when it was time to go to bed, even though I was very very tired. Stupid tired. Like, I forgot I had a pot of broth on the stove I had been cooking down from the turkey bones I saved, so it sat out all night with the stove turned off. Poultry broth that sits all night at room temperature is no longer food. Sigh, that was a waste. The other thing I forgot was to close up the jar of flux on the workbench, which sat out all night long drying out. Fortunately, that is saveable... I topped it up with some water, closed the lid, and set it aside... once I am done with breakfast and morning chores, it will have softened enough to remix and be useable today.
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ready, get, set... between working with Tullia again this afternoon, I spent time continuing to fabricate the setting for the turquoise heart. The bezel got a border of beaded wire, and a trio of fine silver granules at the tip. Then I added a hanging loop of heavy twisted wire, which was rather a challenge to fit and solder. A few more granules helped stabilise it visually, and finally I added two large jump rings as a bail, so that it can be worn with either a double hook necklace, or the more common jewelry chain... The white strings in the picture are dental floss, looped under the stone temporarily, so I can remove it at will, until it is finally set in place
I sketched out a lot of ideas for how to fabricate this pendant, and for a while was thinking about adding an additional overlay to the back, maybe a portrait of Smokey... while I decided against that, (the setting is quite heavy already, and adding another layer would really almost double the weight) I thought that turning it into a reliquary had merit. I have a box with small bundles of Smokey fur, and will use some of that as part of the padding for the stone...
... and... tis done! I am pretty happy with how the pendant came together. The style is, as intended, southwest-inspired, as seemed appropriate for this chunk of Arizona turquoise. Since I don't yet have a dedicated necklace to hang it from, I temporarily borrowed the grey pearls from my running horse pendant - not sure what will be the best sort of finishing strand for it... maybe some vintage red whiteheart beads?
This is what it looks like "as worn" with a double hook necklace. The benefit of such a necklace style is that it is much easier to fasten a clasp in the center front than in the center back. However, should I decide on a different sort of carrier, the two jump rings will also work well threaded with a necklace chain, or ribbon, or braid. I have not previously used a double jump ring as a bail, but will certainly do so when appropriate in the future...
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December SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
3 turquoise heart pendant framed old photo -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x
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Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine waxes a bit philosophical, and then gets creative...

“I think... that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed.”
- Ursula Le Guin, The Other Wind

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After my visit up to OlyWa I came home very much conscious of the passing of time... mostly I was thinking about what feels like how little time I have left. And that I don't want to waste any more of it than I have to.

For the last year or so have really struggled with feeling paralysed both personally and creatively because of politcal hopelessness, so now am determined to salvage as much makerie and sweetness from every day I have left in the bright world, because otherwise evil wins. My new overall goal is to be productive every day, hence an ongoing effort to make needful beautiful things every day, and to pay attention to what is still good in everyday life.
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I've had this idea for a turquoise heart pendant stuck in my head for months now... rather like an earworm, but a concept... Not sure where it came from, but since it refused to leave, seemed like actually making it would be the best next step

Little did I know that finding a turquoise heart-shaped cabachon would be so difficult. What little I was able to find, was not really a good match for my vision. I ended up with this fancy shaped blue-green Morenci heart, which I promptly reshaped into a simpler motif; turquoise is a very soft gem, about the same Mohs hardness as glass, so my alundum stones were quite up to the task of a little edge grinding..

Whilst Tullia was here all this afternoon for her open studio time, I also worked on the setting for the heart pendant. Since the cabachon was taller than any of my commercial serrated bezel wire, I cut a strip of very thin fine silver taller than the stone. I then marked the height of the stone on the inside of the bezel before soldering it to the backing plate, and cut "dogteeth" into the edge so the bezel wire will easily shape to the turquoise.

The design I imagined needed several decorative granules... while I made some at first from scrap bits, I decided that they needed to be closer in size to look well in this application. So, I used some of the leftover bezel material, which was already an evenly wide strip. I set the dividers and marked out three equal pieces, about 1/8" wide, and then melted each of them into spheres, the three will decorate the point of the heart; I cut a fourth equal piece in half and made two more smaller equal spheres to decorate the bail loop.
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December SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
2 sekrit needlebook blackhorse earrings-
3 x framed old photo -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A hat for Thora


... in which our plucky heroine realises that she forgot to post this project, and decides better late than never!

I actually started the embroidery for this back in September of 2016, and took the panels with my on my cross country train journey last year. Thora chose the motif of blackberry sprigs, and liked my sketch, which, while not "Viking style" does capture some of the botanical details... The process of how I set up to do the embroidery is pretty straightforward, first drawing the design on thin (tracing) paper, then basting it in place an stitching the outlines right through the paper, then removing the paper and adding the infill stitchery
These are the last three panels for the Thora hat project:

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Here is a closer look - I chose to do a variant on couching the stems, adding in some longer stitches to represent the blackberry thorns. The filling stitch is a type of Bayeaux Tapestry stitch, and the berries are stitched down 10/0 glass beads.

And, once back at home again, I also fabricated the sterling hat finial... This little granulated cone is about an inch and a quarter tall, and will serve to neatly finish the center top of the hat, once all the sewing is done. (This is the only part of these style of Viking Age hats that we have actual archaeological evidence for, although we do not know what style of hats were so decorated, as the textile portions have entirely disintegrated over the centuries).

further progress on Thora's hat... the wide sheepskin edging is halfway sewn on. The leather is quite resistant to the hand stitching, and I had to take breaks to rest my hands. Still, was good to find out that my plan of running the fur all the way around the bottom edge and partway inside worked well and the hat was not too snug to wear, just nicely toasty warm.

Once all the panels are stitched together (as seen here), The next step is for the raw edges to be trimmed to a neat and even height

with the edges trimmed, the silver hat finial can be stitched in place, and as can be seen, makes everything neat and tidy. Sometimes I will also couch a third color of yarn down either side of the seams, covering the machine stitching with handwork... but in this case, the black stitching sunk right into the black melton cloth.

And finally... the completed hat for Thora -

Sunday, December 3, 2017

gifty wishlist

..in which our plucky heroine attempts to make things easier for those who don't already know her pretty well....

This list is an ongoing work-in-progress, since like each year for the past several, I've been participating in Daegmar's Sekrit Santa gift exchange... It is actually pretty difficult to find objects that fit the requirements: keep the exchanged gift either handmade and/or homemade, or if purchased to be $20 or less); since most of what will make a real difference in my life are not things, but the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual "stuff".

It seemed a good idea to provide both general guidelines to what I like and do not like, as well as a modest annotated list of assorted Useful and Delightful things:

Random wishlist notes:
my favorite colors: The kind of blue that you get from indigo: nightsky and dark denim. The greyish color of natural linen. Taupe. Grey. Soft dull turquoise. The dark black brown of some kinds of undyed sheep wool. Bittersweet chocolate brown.

In general, food is not a Fjorlief treat and neither are scented things. Our plucky heroine does not particularly like chocolate and is allergic to cherries and hazelnuts...

I mostly do not collect things, in particular I don't collect acorn kitsch, even though the house is named Acorn Cottage; I really do NOT collect chicken things, even though there are often hens in residence...

Annotated wishlist items that are less than $20, in no particular order:

Tool Girl can never have too many tools. Lee Valley is most reputable, and has a delicious selection of tools and trinkets:
These handy small brass calipers - a shop tool that I seem to be lacking! There is a good explanation of how to use it here: The Secret Power of the Sliding Gauge...

This julienne peeler - might be a good way to add additional texture to my veggie salad consumption, I can imagine carrots or beets as tiny shreds of color and nutrition.

These adorable boxwood storage tubes would be most suited to storing needles and pins when traveling, which since I stitch whilst riding transit, is pretty much every day.

These smaller pocket size DMT pocket diamond hones would be very handy both for sharpening knives, and for grinding down enamels.

Wake The Dead's combination of celtic style instruments and arrangements, and Grateful Dead songs, makes me really happy. Any of the three CD's would be a nice addition to the Acorn Cottage library: Wake The Dead, or Buckdancer's Choice, or Blue Light Cheap Hotel

These are the best knitting needles I have ever tried. I love their subtle grey wood colors, and the black cords, and they knit like a dream. Lykke Driftwood circular needles I could really use 40" in sizes 2, 2.5, and 3...
...and someday I would like to replace my collection of random needles with their Standard set of interchangeable needles but that now strays into the far beyond $20 territory...
...more spendy wishes
This sewing room clock is a clever use of recycling vinyl LPs, good not-kitsch graphic design, and would be perfect for my sewing space!

Digger Omnibus, by Ursula Vernon... Because I love it, and I love her writing


It would be a very good addition to the infrastructure here to acquire an extension ladder. One that is long enough to reach the gutters, or the attic hatchways, and strong enough for someone that weighs over 200 lbs... must needs do a bit more research as to what would be suitable

new mattress - my current mattress, while not terrible old, has become terribly topographical. I had the chance to sleep on one of these Casper mattresses in the guest room at my friends house, and it was excellent! (slept through the night, didn't wake up all achey and contorted) My friends have had one in their own bedroom for months now, and it seems to be holding up really well

Saturday, December 2, 2017

fix-it Friday


in which our plucky heroine struggles with motivation...

In lieu of actual progress this week, there has been many tiny efforts at small repairs, a few of which have been successful. The best is probably that the back storm door, which has never latched properly (thanks to former owner incompetence), and which bangs incessantly whenever the wind rises, now latches neatly. It took fitting a wooden shim under the latch, some effort to file the moving latch, and the application of WD40, but the door now closes neatly and can be opened from outside as well. I had formerly resorted to using a cordage loop to hold it closed, which only works from inside the house. The whole frame still needs additional weatherstripping, a task for another day, but soon, as it gets steadily colder
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December SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Kestrel hat backdoor latch-
2 x blackhorse earrings-
3 x framed old photo -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

the smallest Viking hat


in which our plucky heroine makes baby Kestrel a wool hat...

I gathered the parts to make this, red wool flannel for lining and binding the edges, green striped handwoven wool for the panels, assorted wool floss for embroidery and assembly, and narrow strips of sheepskin for the fur trim. The bird design is my take on a stylised kestrel, done as a somewhat Viking-esque motif

This will be a five panel hat, and now that the embroidery is done, the lining fabric is basted in place, then trimmed and turned to the front, and stitched down neatly

All five panels are attached at the center, first. Then I basted the edges together so we could make sure that it was a good fit on the baby, before I did the rest of the hand stitching.

The central finial was made from heavy wool felt, and embroidered in designs inspired by the granulated metalwork of the Viking Age original hat toppers. I did add the tassel, to make it a bit easier to get a grip on the hat when picking it up

Final view of the completed tiny baby hat. The fur (sheepskin) is attached to a separate band, applied over the bottom edge of the hat, and the whole thing is designed so that when it becomes too small, it can be taken apart, and the panels used to decorate a larger hat for Kestrel. ...Handmade with love, to keep someone warm this winter...


Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine revisits old haunts...

Party in the cow field. Last night Coyote sang together. Twice and long, just before my sleeping swallowed me up into dreamland.