Wednesday, January 17, 2018

seems like there should be a kanjii for that...


in which our plucky heroine turns a difficulty to opportunity...

Still struggling to find a good way to store the sudden abundance of canning jars released into the wilds of Acorn Cottage by the massive pantry declutter, it occurred to me that filling at least some of them up with assorted new foodstuffs would solve part of the problem, as they could then return to the pantry shelves, in the correct category for their contents. This strategy will also begin the process of using up some of the stored fruits and vegetables in the chest freezer and transforming the aforesaid into condiments and comestibles, all shelf stable.

One thing I had not made recently came to mind: Awesome Sauce... This is a sort of cross between sweet chili sauce and tomato ketchup, and is based on this recipe for British chili jam. It never comes out quite the same way, but is always a delicious treat. I decided not to cook down tonight's batch quite all the way to jam consistency, and currently have eight 4oz jars cooling down on the countertop. The combination of garlic/ginger/chilies/fish sauce in a sweet/tomato/vinegar base will be a good addition to the condiment shelf.
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I've been working on a carved block to use printing trim for Vanya; the desired image being a Viking Age style bear holding a hammer, in representation of his smithcraft. The bear is just 2" across. My hope is to trade some of my textile embellishment and creation skills for some forged ironwork; that way we both get something desirable!

The other blocks, the dotted circle, and the interstitial quatrefoil, will be useful for all sorts of additional printing, being sized, for example, to also work with the laser cut horses I made for myself last year... Later on this year I am hoping to do some block printed fabric for new SCA clothing for myself... my garb is in dire need of refurbishment before summertime camping season comes around again.
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a towering pile of blood orange marmalade, prior to being labeled and put away in the pantry... I love how the peels glow in the early morning light. Next up on the list is grapefruit marmalade, probably next week. Sadly, it seems unlikely that there will be any organic Seville oranges this year, none of the shops say they will be getting them in. It is always dicey, between the vagaries of agriculture, and the fact that here they are a niche item, even among the niche of organic produce. There are just not so many marmalade making maniacs! I did leave name and phone number in several places Just In Case.
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This morning I noticed that Boneclaw Mother had a rosy comb and wattles, and this is what I found inside the chicken house! Early in the year for fresh eggses, but the girls are done with their moult and looking nice and shiney again, and I have a fresh egg for breakfast.

This is the earliest I have had eggs start up again so far. I'll be curious to see when both hens start up. Nanny Og is still pretty pale in the comb, so I don't expect to see two eggs a day for a while yet... Still, at this time of the year, even a few eggs a week will be very welcome.
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurelpaper recycling
3 A/C cardigan fronts Dad slipper fix boxes of tiles
4 24 flannel baby wipes hang envelope holder old bookcase
5 blood orange marmaladeDad slipper resole wood scraps
6 12 jars awesome sauce x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Today's gratitude: hidden beauty, which is often found if one only pays a bit of attention...

Monday, January 15, 2018

some small progress

in which our plucky heroine takes baby steps

I finished a few other small projects this weekend. Long ago I made slipper socks for my family. My dad wore his until they wore out, and then sent them back to me, to see if they could be repaired (three years ago! ) well, not really, so I removed the bottoms, saving the patterned top parts. I then made some knit and felted slippers, and decided to sew the sock tops onto the slippers, to make a sturdier version. But the felted wool is quite slippery on smooth floors, which is a hazard to anyone, particularly those of venerable age. So this weekend I spent time hand stitching pieces of grippy "footie bottoms" onto the soles of the refurbished slippers, and they are now finally ready to be sent back to my parents... (I had made new slippers for my mom a number of six years ago as well, and the grippy stuff works well, according to her)
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Recently, Ariadne mentioned that some additional flannel baby wipes for Kestrel would be helpful, and as I have a serger, I volunteered to run a batch up for them... it really was a nice change from all the pantry sorting this weekend to cut out a bunch of 6" squares and stitch around the edges so that they will not fray when washed. I sent up two dozen additional wipes with Blue Cedar House as courier, and hopefully it will help in a tiny way with the evergoing laundry of my Mud Bay pals and their tiny child Kestrel.
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Blood oranges were on sale this week, along with an assortment of other citrus, so it seemed like marmalade season was about to get underway... Plus any jars that get filled with preserves can get stored on the organised pantry shelves. Figuring out a good way to store the empty jars is currently a conundrum. So, the citrus was boiled for a few hours, then after it cooled enough to handle, it was cut open, any seeds removed, the pulp chopped roughly, and the peel sliced into thin ribbons. Mixed with sugar, it sat for a few hours, then was cooked down to marmalade. Differences of a degree or two in the final temperature change the marmalade consistency significantly. I love how blood orange marmalade has a rich rosy orange color, deeper than any of the other marmalades I make. Hopefully the grocery will get in some organic seville oranges, which make a wonderful bitter marmalade, closer to the original version when orange took over from quince, centuries ago.
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurelpaper recycling
3 A/C cardigan fronts Dad slipper fix boxes of tiles
4 24 flannel baby wipes hang envelope holder old bookcase
5 blood orange marmaladeDad slipper resole wood scraps
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday snippets

in which our plucky heroine sneezes a lot...

Saturday was been exhausting and a bit stressful, but so much declutter is happening. Every time we do this, my allergies go off the charts, as old dust and concomitant pollen gets stirred up. We started by putting in a lot of effort in the carport, and took away boxes of old tiles, a bookcase, old planter pots, and removed a bunch of wood scraps. Reorganised the wood that is stored there, with the intention of (over time) getting the space to where is will be useable as an outdoor "room" for projects and teaching, instead of just a substitute for the shed which is not here any more. Then we ate dinner.

After dinner Mindy and I tackled the pantry, and while we are not done with it yet, great progress was made there as well. We removed everything from the shelves, and sorted out all the canned goods to be discarded. I am very ashamed of how much was no longer useable, about a third of the contents need to be either composted or discarded without even opening the jars, because scary. I have been putting off dealing with this area for a long time, because it made me feel so bad. Now everything that is on the shelves is both tidy, edible, and food that I will eat. It is clear what needs to be used, foods are in categories, not random, and there is lots of room for the future canning I plan on doing, and for storing jars.
Six years ago, I rebuilt the pantry area here at Acorn Cottage. The bottom shelf apparently never got its heavy mesh backing and side panels (which keep things on the shelves in the event of earthquake) so this would be an excellent time to remedy that. In the photo here, the panels that cover the fronts of the shelves are, of course, detached right now so that the shelves could be cleaned and contents rearranged. (You can see the bungee loops on the uprights) I am quite pleased with the difference in how it looks now, even though I once again forgot to take a "before" photo. And I am not going to photo the shameful pile of old canned goods to be discarded; I will expiate my sins by having to wash a mortally large number of canning jars!

Going forward, our plucky heroine is am going to think carefully about what actually gets eaten and used for food preparation. I am going to improve the contents of the earthquake shelf. And the delicious home-preserved foods will be used in a timely fashion, and replaced in the proper season.
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurelpaper recycling
3 A/C cardigan fronts Dad slipper fix boxes of tiles
4 - hang envelope holder old bookcase
5 -Dad slipper resole wood scraps
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday fragments


Finished the reverse applique on the two cardigan fronts, and pretty pleased with the results... Next step is to cut out and stencil the sleeves. Because the hand stitching around the motifs is basically pretty simple work, I have been doing it not only while on transit, but also when socialising, and as a late night winding down project. This makes the progress a LOT faster than I expected, at this rate I may be done with the preparations by early February. The next step will to cut out and print the contrasting sleeve panels. I think some quick sketches first, since while I like the idea of reversed colorway sleeves in theory, I am not sure how it will look...

my quick sketch looks pretty good to me, and I imagine it will look pretty good with a combination of solid color garments, as well as with some if not all patterned fabrics. Maybe I need to make more than one cardigan, a mostly solid one would also be Really Useful.

Am thinking that it may be worthwhile to cut out this pattern in some stashed fleece, to double check that the sleeves actually function properly before I commit to the handwork on the sleeve pieces. After all, I am tracing off my handknit wool sweater to get the size and shapes of the pattern pieces, and some confirmation prior to additional progress would be good. (And, if the fleece toile fits and functions, I will have a good start on an additional round-the-house cardigan, even if not actually part of SWAP)
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurelpaper recycling
3 A/C cardigan fronts Dad slipper fix -
4 - hang envelope holder -
5 -- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday musings

in which our plucky heroine observes that the weather beads are coming along nicely:
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A vintage "Lily Pom and Tuft Maker" multiple pom pom maker (like this one) showed up for for sale online... I'd been eyeing the design, trying to suss out how to DIY my own version. My intention is to create a version of this designer scarf, but as a cowl, similar to my black linen gauze pom pom cowl. Since I cannot find pom pom trim in interesting subtle multicolors, I thought that DIY yarn pom poms would be a good alternative, but the idea of making that many individual ones one at a time seemed rather insane unappealing. The wooden gizmo should arrive sometime around the beginning of February, and I can give it a try then...
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Today I braved the pool for first time this year, rode my bike through the misty morning, and was gratified to find that the water temperature was not a cold as before the pool closed for their winter break and yearly cleaning. No more blue fingers, and while it was not delightfully warm, I will be content with tepid, as resuming my water exercises will do me nothing but good!
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It is really fun to chat with my pal Marya about SWAP ideas, both for modern clothing and for SCA clothes. I wish I had thought to take a photo of the new skirt she showed up in on Sunday, as it was similar to Shams "tablecloth skirt" and looked spectacular on her. We were cogitating on a particular SCA project, that involved some lovely plaid wool, in brown and blue and black, that I previously decided looked too "Catholic schoolgirl uniform" to become a modern pinafore. Marya exclaimed at how well it coordinated with my current Alabama Chanin project, which was also sitting on the table, and encouraged me to think about adding it to my SWAP fabrics.

I know I keep switching up my ideas for what to sew, and while initially resistant, upon further thought I realised that if I went ahead and used the tablecloth skirt for the lower half of a pinafore, and my other TNT pinafore top, the empire waist with the spaghetti straps, my resulting pinafore would make good use of the plaid to take advantage of the fun structure of the skirt, and would, in fact, look nothing at all like a school uniform. Adding in a plaid fabric, and as a pinafore, means that I need to now restructure and rebalance my SWAP, lest I end up with far too many pinafores, and not enough tops or dresses to wear with them!

The rules call for two neutral colours, 3 garments from each colorway...
BROWN
1. corduroy pinafore - I have enough of the extra-fine-wale corduroy in a medium brown to make another brown pinafore, since I love and enjoy the brushed twill one, and the black/brown shot linen one I already have. Adding brown into my wardrobe has turned out to work really well for the colder season, it coordinates flawlessly with my beloved indigo and black, and looks just fine with grey
2. linen top -
3. knit top - Teagarden T
INDIGO
4. dark denim pinafore - (already made, from SWAP 2017)
5. popover dress - This easy pattern works both as a layer underneath a pinafore, and as a dress on its own. I am thinking about embellishing the medium indigo rayonfabric with a bit of block-printed decoration...
6. linen top -

... 2 accent colors and one print, one garment in each of these: black, plaid and a print -
7. black corduroy pinafore - this is already cut out, the fabric is a strange irregular ribbed corduroy, so will be unlike the other black pinafores I already have.
8. blue/brown/black plaid wool pinafore -
9. print cotton blouse - might use the midcentury blue floral fabric. or might use the Heather Ross horses print in brown multicolor on light blue... either or both would be very useful and make me very happy

...and finally 2 more additional garments in any or all of the colors already chosen
10. black DWR rain poncho - time to finish this project: bind the edges and add a neckline cowl. I have been running around for too long with a piece of fabric with a hole cut in the middle! True, assorted people have complimented me on how it looks, but I think that finished edges would be more my style!
11. Alabama Chanin style cotton jersey cardigan - I have wanted to make this for a long time, and have already cut the stencils earlier this year. My design is based on this Gudrun Sjoden cardigan, but mine will be more cropped, so as to look well worn over a pinafore dress. I have enough cotton jersey in both brown and indigo/navy, so my thought is: brown top layer, blue bottom layer, black stenciling, grey stitching... that will be a bridge garment and will look well with pretty much all of my cool and cold weather clothing
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurel-
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Today I am grateful for my local city pool, which is close enough for me to ride my bike there, is in a covered building which means that it is usable all year long, and which has scholarships for low income city residents which mean that I can afford to go there and use the facility.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

pears in pieces...

in which our plucky heroine continues to believe in a future...

Two boxes of organic Harry and David pears were a lovely and luxurious gift, but now all the pears were getting ripe at once, faster than could be eaten. So I took most of what was left and canned them tonight, and there will be a dozen jars of pear chunks in the pantry to eat later on. Now they can sweeten my morning museli, and each bite will remind me of the dearloves who sent pears to me...
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January SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
2 12 jars canned pears restring amber Laurel-
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x 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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Today I am grateful for my electric toothbrush. I know it sounds wierd, but it was one of the things I purchased last year, sort of on a whim, having read several times that they really do help keep teeth cleaner... It turns out that I love how my teeth feel after I use it. Like a little massage for my gums, and afterwards the teeth feel all shiny, like after a visit to the dentist. I also love how much easier it is to get the brush around my back teeth, and so I feel like I am doing better at another small aspect of self care. (I will, however, keep some manual toothbrushes on hand in case of power outages/earthquake emergency etc)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

how to sew on snaps...



in which our plucky heroine proves an aphorism correct...

My father has a habit of saying "if you don't ask, you don't get", and lately I have been doing better at remembering that sometimes the easiest way to find something out is to ask someone who knows. The neat and tidy way that Alabama Chanin garments stitch on snaps has been baffling me ever since I took a close look at the photos. Even after I posted my questions to my cohorts over at Stitchers Guild, there was no consensus, and no clear path forward. Although it will be a while before my cardigan is at the point of needing the front fasteners attached, it seemed a suddenly brilliant idea when I thought to actually contact them and ask!! Surprisingly quickly, a helpful email came back to me, with just the directions I was hoping for, very clear and specific:
  • Tie an anchor knot in the thread (just a simple knot that you will later cut off)
  • On the inside of the garment (side that will have the snap and not the square of thread), run needle between fabric layers, starting 1" away from where the snap will be sewn and coming out at the spot where the snap will be. Tie a double knot here.
  • Run the needle between the layers again, coming out (still on the inside of the garment) where you want one of the four corners of the snap's stitched square to be.
  • From the under side of the snap, sew through one of the holes of the snap. So that you are wrapping the thread around the outside of the snap, stitch all the way through the garment at the same spot where your thread has come out of the fabric. Your needle and thread should now be on the "right side" of the garment.
  • Make a horizontal or vertical stitch (whichever direction around the snap you're going) the distance from snap hole to snap hole; make sure the needle is going through the next snap hole without the fabric becoming too tight or bunched on the "right side" before pulling all the way through.
  • Once you've stitched through the next snap hole, wrap the thread around the outside of the snap by putting the needle back through the same spot in the garment; look at the "right side" of the garment to make sure the needle is going through at the same spot before pulling it all the way through.
  • Continue these steps until you've gone all the way around the snap twice. The key is to look at both sides of the garment before pulling the needle and thread all the way through to make sure you're in the right spot to create a square.
  • Tie a double knot on the inside of the garment close to the snap and hide your thread by running it between the garment's layers.
  • Cut off the initial anchor knot to hide the first double knot's tail.
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    January SMART goals (x=extra)
    # THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
    1 A/C cardigan back worm bin beddingbad corduroy
    2 - restring amber Laurel-
    3 - - -
    4 - - -
    5 -- -
    6 x x x
    7 x x x
    8 x x x
    9 x 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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    Today I am grateful for Tri-Met... however less than pleasant riding public transit, it is far better than not having such a comparatively robust local system, that allows me to access much of what I moved to an urban area to have the use of. Given enough time, I can manage to visit most of my local friends, get to needed health appointments in various surrounding locations, and whatever shopping needs to happen other than in my immediate neighborhood. Many people I know lack such a resource. In addition, I use my time spent on transit to do various kinds of handwork, either stitchery or knitting, so that the often several hours is actually moving me forward on some of my personal goals.