Tuesday, August 22, 2017

there are no words...


in which our plucky heroine is rendered speechless...

I very unexpectedly ended up being able to go see the full solar eclipse, despite my lack of advance planning... some old friends who live right in the middle of the totality zone in Jefferson Oregon opened up their backyard for an eclipse overnight shindig, and some of my dear Olympia friends (Bill, Cathy, Jen, and Toshi the wonder pup) scooped me up, took me there and back home again afterwards. On eclipse morning, we all set up chairs in the front yard and had a perfect view in a clear sky to watch the moon shadow cross the sun face. my friend Bob set up his camera to take timed photos at set intervals*, while the rest of us sat and chatted, or knit, and all periodically looked up to watch the progress of the moon shadow...
""... Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him... Although the one experience precedes the other, it in no way prepares you for it. During a partial eclipse the sky does not darken—not even when 94 percent of the sun is hidden. Nor does the sun, seen colorless through protective devices, seem terribly strange...

What you see in an eclipse is entirely different from what you know... You do not see the moon. So near the sun, it is as completely invisible as the stars are by day. What you see before your eyes is the sun going through phases. It gets narrower and narrower, as the waning moon does, and, like the ordinary moon, it travels alone in the simple sky. The sky is of course background. It does not appear to eat the sun; it is far behind the sun. The sun simply shaves away; gradually, you see less sun and more sky...

... A piece of sky beside the crescent sun was detaching. It was a loosened circle of evening sky, suddenly lighted from the back. It was an abrupt black body out of nowhere; it was a flat disk; it was almost over the sun. That is when there were screams. At once this disk of sky slid over the sun like a lid. The sky snapped over the sun like a lens cover. The hatch in the brain slammed. Abruptly it was dark night, on the land and in the sky. In the night sky was a tiny ring of light. The hole where the sun belongs is very small. A thin ring of light marked its place.

excerpted from Annie Dillard's 1982 essay "Total Eclipse"

It was so different to actually experience it instead of just reading about it or seeing pictures, or even the one time I saw a partial solar eclipse. The quality of the light kept changing, the wild birds all went to roost in odd places, it gradually cooled off as the light became more plangent, and the heat of the morning was pierced now and again with a wisp of cool breezes. Street lights came on, and then the peak moment arrived!

During totality we could all take off our eclipse glasses and look directly at the sun, seeing the corona in wispy rays surrounding a dark circle. The horizons we could see between the buildings appeared colored as at dawn, only in the entirely wrong places, to the south, and the northeast (I have been told that if on a hilltop, the sunrise colors are the whole circle of the horizon...) I found it to be literally awe inspiring in an almost atavistic physical sense... my legs got shaky, and I found myself waving my arms in the air and hollering (which is not how I usually react to things)

I am so very grateful to have been able to see the eclipse, and will treasure the memory for the rest of my life, as one of my peak experiences ever...

* he then assembled them into one composited image, which gives a sense of what we saw in the eastern sky
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

scavenger hunt Sunday #2


in which our plucky heroine makes progress...
my pal Randal organised "The Epic Photo Scavenger Hunt", as an online challenge between August 1st and October 31st. There are 67 items on the list, I had six the first week, and the second week added another ten... this week I added another five:
3. something chromed
while my sister was visiting last weekend, we indulged in a trip to 50 Licks, which is my choice for the best ice cream anywhere. (and much better than the oft cited Salt and Straw; when it comes to ice cream, I prefer tasty to quirky) Fortunately the shop is on the far side of the city, and so not a frequent treat. I had never been there on a Saturday night, and there was quite a line, and while we were waiting for our turn at the counter, I saw this vintage soda fountain mixer on the shelves as a decoration...

16. a mackerel
Homage to Andy Warhol, found on the shelves of Uwajimaya.

22. something brass
My sister wanted to visit Pittock Mansion, the big old early 20th C historical house and park on the top of the West Hills, which I had never visited either...

41. water droplets
This was my second attempt. Last Sunday there was a tiny bit of rain during the night, and when I walked out to do chook chores in the morning, these echos of the lovely coolness, dappling the ferns and caught in the spiderwebs were just so perfect an illustration of "water droplets"!

My first try at "water droplets", with the condensation on a glass of ice water on my nightstand, catching the reflections from around the room.

51. a phone booth
I am enjoying how participating in this photo challenge has a way of encouraging me to look more carefully at my surroundings. Somehow I had not noticed until now that most of the MAX stations still have a pay phone. This one is near the stop just north of my local library.

So, have now located 21 of the 67 items on the list, but of course am picking all the low hanging fruit first... Some of the other items will be interesting to stage, or involve additional fun field trips, but other items will be a great challenge if even possible. Some involve learning a few new photography techniques, and others will require me to simply be lucky...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

wishful Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine thinks small...

because thinking large feels so very hopeless. I am appalled at the hatred and violence that is erupting all around the country I live in. I message my elected officials to add my own small voice towards the direction of sanity and kindness, but mostly just feel helpless and terrified. Sewing, or crafts, or the creation of beauty feel in some ways ridiculously privileged, but also are my only candle to light against all that assails our common humanity.
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In less than a week, a major total eclipse of the sun will transect the USA, and actually come quite close to my own city cottage. There are people coming from far up and down the coast to central Oregon, and even my own nephew is traveling north from Los Angeles for the celestial show... I have never seen totality before, and this is probably the only chance in my lifetime to have this experience.
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I am really looking forward to actually sewing some clothing for me this quarter. I've been looking through my wardrobe and trying to figure out what I need...

Following the Useful Guidelines suggested by our intrepid inspiration Elizabeth, my first garment will be a knitted "mini poncho", that will cover my neck and shoulders but leave my arms free of constraint. I bought wool in three subtle heathered colors, to knit together in an approximation of extra-bulky yarn (the pattern offers this as an option). The grey heather, the brown heather, and the aqua heather combined knit up in a sort of warm blue/grey tweed, and on size 11 (8mm) needles, will be a quick enough knit to actually get finished by the end of October!

The second, which will fill a definite gap in my wardrobe, will be the Alabama Chanin/Gudrun Sjoden inspired cardigan jacket I keep hoping to make... this time it will be one of the first two pieces, since it will coordinate with everything in my closet. (navy top layer, brown under layer, black stenciling, grey stitching) And I know that in a month or two some light warmth will be welcome, even if now the idea of layers makes me want to reach for some ice water...

I am not certain yet what else to add in to my 6PAC. It is still really the heat of summertime here, which tempts me to make another popover dress, since that is the part of my wardrobe that is still very scant. I think I have one partially cut out in some dark indigo rayon, which would be wearable now, and wearable later underneath a pinafore...

One more pinafore, the already cut out jacquard denim that didn't make it into SWAP, would be useful this autumn. There are a number of blouse lengths in my stash of woven cotton that could coordinate well with my pinafores, an indigo midcentury floral, and a cream/brown mushroom in particular, but I would need to buckle down and work out a good TNT pattern for a woven top/blouse. Hoping to find the mojo to actually muslin the Fit For Art Tabula Rasa jacket, which has proven so successful for other folks as a woven top and/or jacket pattern.
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Sunday, August 13, 2017

scavenger hunt Sunday



in which our plucky heroine makes progress...
my pal Randal organised "The Epic Photo Scavenger Hunt", as an online challenge between August 1st and October 31st. There are 67 items on the list, I had six last week, and this week added another ten:
5. a closeup of a flower
August 7 2017. Today at Trader Joes there were a lot of interesting flowers, and this phalaenopsis orchid seemed particularly sculptural.

12. a picture with bokeh
August 7, 2017. While I was initially aiming for "a silhouette", the bee did not cooperate. The unusual flowers (Echinops ritro) were very eye catching.

19. an architectural detail
August 7, 2017. I am terribly fond of this tree house. The roof is arched corrugated fiberglass, and the walls are cedar shingles. The best part, in my opinion, is the way the builder cut the shingles to echo the handbuilt window frame. I feel that the reflections in the window definitely add to the story, making it more obvious that it is a tree house.

29. something orange
August 11 2017. Hydrant framing bikeshare bicycles...

31. the sun
August 2 2017. The road down to Mud Bay from Olympia heads almost due west, and the sky, filled with smokey haze from the fires, turned the sky orange and the sun into a faint bright spot caught in the power lines. I rather like the way that the blue tint to the upper windshield encloses the top edge of the image

40. a unicorn
this piƱata caught my eye as I was riding the bus home... I find it really difficult to photograph things behind plate glass, without the reflections getting in the way. Sometimes reflections can add to the image, but in this case I moved into the doorway and brought the camera as close to the glass as I could manage. this was not the unicorn I had intended to photograph, but it is the unicorn that showed up...

49. a horse
August 8, 2017. I realised that the carved paper towel holder I was finally getting around to putting up on the wall would be a bit outside the box subject for "a horse"... I carved the horse head paper towel holder years ago, and inlaid the eye with shell.

What I learned taking this photo is that it is really helpful to be able to choose which direction or directions the light is coming from. I experimented with my three different shop lights to see which combination brought out the carving without washing out the image

53. an interesting sign
August 6 2017. Night streetscape, with classic vintage neon sign. I see this every time I ride my bike to go grocery shopping. Had a hard time deciding if it was a cityscape, a street scene, a photo with bokeh, or an interesting sign... decided that the neon sign was the most interesting specific thing, but the other aspects give it a context. I had originally tried to photgraph the moon tangled in the overhead wires. I am pleased with how the lines and angles of the street, sidewalk, and lit Max train all move the eye towards the neon sign, and how all the lights are fuzzy, glowing in the muggy summer air.

57. a high angle picture
August 10, 2017. I rarely ever go into Pioneer Place downtown, not having much use at all for the consumer goods acquired at malls, but since I was passing by there anyway this morning, it occurred to me that escalators and a big open courtyard could be interesting...

58. a low angle picture
August 7 2017. Waiting for the #19 bus, which was running late, I took advantage of the wait to scamper across the traffic circle for a closer look at Joan of Arc. The angle really clarifies the advantage horse soldiers had over foot soldiers!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thursday thoughts and a tad bit of wishful Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine cogitates about home improvement...

It is great good fortune to have more cubic than just the minimum, and I never stop being grateful. Years of living in one small space makes it a challenge to figure out how to create larger spaces that function well. Acorn Cottage has several rooms, and the small bedroom is used for textile storage and as a guest space, and sometimes as a sewing space, which was the intended use of that room in the first place. But I don't really like being in there, or sewing in there, and end up setting up to sew in the workroom, or on the dining table, instead. So I've been spending time this week just thinking about the space:

The lighting in the room is okay for a guest space, and not very good for a work space. To be a good work space it would need more lighting overall, and also better task lighting. What it has now is one overhead light, and one wee next to the bed lamp.

There is no real room in there for anything other than the futon couch/bed. However, I can sit comfortably on it, and the folding sewing tables are a good height to use when sitting there. The other tasks of sewing (laying out fabric for cutting, and using an ironing board) need to happen in a different, larger, room, usually the workroom, which has a big worktable with adjustable height, and plenty of outlets to plug in the iron, and good lighting.

The guest/textile room has only one window. It also feels very messy to me all the time, even when it is "cleaned up". This is sort of claustrophobic. The rooms I LIKE to spend time in have windows on two walls, and are not closed in. I really disliked my workroom when it had only one window, and it felt entirely different and much more welcoming when I was finally able to put in two small windows on another wall as well.

So... here is what I came up with for my vision for that room... What is a more appealing space for me: Less stuff on the walls, and what is on the walls less visually cluttered. High windows on the east wall and a built in wall fan. A plain bright overhead light fixture. Walls painted light grey, with decoration near the ceiling. There is a shelf lined with neat canvas box totes for WIP's, There is enough fabric, but not too much, in categories according to future use. The sewing tools are organised and accessible. The notions are organised and accessible. The room is full of guidance and inspiration. Nothing is obstructed. There is beauty.

Some of this I can do, without needing additional resource. Some of this I can do with minimal additional resources. Some of this needs more than I can access currently.

What I can do now is:

to begin and ongoing pull, cull, and sort the fabric I have. I don't need more storage areas, I have plenty of space, but I have more in it that is not useful to me that can be culled. I can sort fabric into "what is this for" rather than what is this similar to, and decide on an upper limit of how much of each to keep.

I can find a nice plain light fixture and remove and replace the useless ceiling fan. (I could do this in my bedroom too. I hate ceiling fans, they are terrible dust catchers and don't work well)

I can remove things from the walls that are not being used but just stored there, and decide what if any of that to keep, and what to discard.

I can sort and cull the notions, and once I have a sense of how much I want to keep and what it is, I can choose or create organised storage for them. (boxes, or bins, or a small chest of drawers?)

I can locate and sort all the sewing tools, and once I have a sense of how much I want to keep and what it is, I can choose or create organised storage for them. (pegs on the wall. magnet strips, bins?)

I can paint the walls, once I can clear each wall in turn.

I can use some of my fabric to make sturdy box totes for projects. 8x10x10 would fit neatly on the shelves I already have.

The only part of what I envision that I cannot do myself or with the resources I have now is to add windows and a wall fan to the room...but I can do a lot to make it better, with what I can do

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine becomes unstuck...

So some of the days, going to bed early, because tired and woke up at 5 AM yesterday, ends up with even further sleep/wake out of phase. Why am I awake now? going to bed early is not supposed to mean that I only sleep for six hours! On the plus side, I can run the house fans before sunrise and get extra cooling action... on the minus side, epic naps will likely be required later today. Is this a worriesome abnormality, or a realistic adaptation to unnatural conditions of excessive heat?
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Given that each summer seems to be hotter than the year before, I decided that adding greater chicken watering capacity seems like a good idea. I decided to try out this new kind of chicken drink station, and ordered a kit to DIY one myself. If their calculations on the website are correct, I could go for at least a week between having to fill it up with fresh water, and the water itself would stay cleaner. (Since I already put the waterers in the shade, keeping it cool and protected from the sun would not be an issue)

Once I source a suitable bucket, it will be an interesting project to put together. Plus, hole saw!! (I did check with the sellers about if the hole saw was suitable for using with an ordinary household 3/8" electric drill, before I went ahead and bought the kit, since having to buy a new drill as well would make it a bit problematic...)
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Yesterday spent most of the afternoon and early evening keeping a friend company and driving her home from her doctor visit. While sitting and waiting for her, was able to finish sewing the buttons on the rainbow baby sweater, so that, along with the matching hat, is now completed and ready for baby Kestrel.
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Took four bags of old and new clutter to Goodwill on Tuesday. It always feels faintly ridiculous to be walking down the street pushing a big granny cart full of bags of discards, but it is actually fortunate that there is a Goodwill on the corner where my street meets the local bypass road; it saves me having to arrange transport, and has made my decluttering just a bit easier. Which is a good thing, since a fair amount of the clutter originally came from the same place! Fortunately, I have been entirely able to resist browsing their shelves for new-to-me thrifted items any more...
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August SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 rainbow baby hat buttons sewn onbag to Goodwill
2 - --
3 x x -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x -
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Monday, August 7, 2017

media Monday


in which our plucky heroine wishes for autumn...

It is always too hot in August, and indeed for most of September as well. When I saw this video, it seemed appropriate:

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one of my top ten first favorite bands...

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There was enough of the remaining two rainbow yarns to make this whimsical baby hat, which coordinates with the rainbow sweater and booties. (the curved bottom edge is intended to curl around the baby ears to keep them warm). The yarn is Knit Picks Felici Worsted, 75% superwash merino, and 25% nylon, (colorways "Rainbow", and "Madrigal") and while it is lovely and soft for baby knits, it is the most obnoxious* yarn I have knit with in decades... It is also discontinued.

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August SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 rainbow baby hat -bag to Goodwill
2 - --
3 x x -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x -
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

* it is horribly irredeemably splitty yarn, like the plies have no cohesion with one another. Probably a combination of the superwash factor, and that Ariadne said it was spun and plied in the same direction, which encourages splitty yarn. Given that the gauge of the hat/BSJ/booties requires me to knit with tiny size 2 needles, there was lots of stop and repair individual stitches, where one ply of the many was in the wrong place, and dropped sitches were much more difficult than usual, indeed I rarely have ever dropped stitches, but with this yarn it kept happening.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

scavenger hunt Sunday


in which our plucky heroine has fun...

A friend organised "The Epic Photo Scavenger Hunt", which will take place between August 1st and October 31st, as an amusing way to share images and learn more about how to use our cameras, and to comment in ways that may help us to become better at photography. A camera or at very least my clever phone is part of my EDC, and it occurred to me that the images could be shared here on the blog, as well. There are 67 items on the list, so getting started right away seems like a good plan. So far I have six:

10. a barn
August 2 2017. While I forgot my digital camera, as well as several other desired things, when I left Portland very early Wednesday last week to escape the worst of the heat wave, I did have my phone with me... and attempted to catch several of the barns visible from the train heading north to Olympia. This image was my most successful.

21. a closeup of an insect
August 6 2017. a Grey Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) feeding on wild mint nectar. I was actually in the driveway attempting to photograph the many different species of bees also enjoying the mint nectar, and then noticed this wee grey butterfly that was moving quietly along one horizontal blossom spike.

28. a passenger train
August 4 2017 - one of the passenger platforms at Union Station in Portland, Coast Starlight on the left, Amtrak Cascades on the right. I happened to unexpectedly take a train trip up to Olympia this past week, and on my return to Portland the very chiaroscuro lighting on the platform caught my attention when we returned...

30. a team mascot
August 2 2017. OMNIA EXTARES! This is a beautifully artistic interpretation of the mascot of my alma mater (The Evergreen State College), our native geoduck. We even have a fight song "Go Geoducks Go"

37. a pet
August 2 2017. Toshi, canine guardian of the Mud Bay folks, paw in hand with Maeva... because Toshi, although very photogenic, is averse to having his picture taken, I decided to go with the more conceptual image, to illustrate his connection to the people he loves.

64. P is for... pea vines
August 2 2017. Also for peascods, and peasblossoms, in the backyard at the Mud Bay House. (we get to choose what "P" is for, and I thought these beautiful enough to be worth sharing)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine attempts to return to functional...

The excess heat here continues, though the terrible smoky air from BC has dissapated, and the temperatures are only about ten degrees above average, instead of close to twenty... I still find it necessary to hide indoors most of the day, and to sleep all afternoon, in the worst of the heat. This has played hob with my productivity. Since my little sister is coming to visit, there are a some housey chores I want to be done with prior to her arrival, both maintenance and some quite a bit of additional decluttering.
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Almost finished BSJ baby sweater. I just found the appropriate buttons in my button box this afternoon. Alternating teal and kelly green seem to add to the rainbow factor and yet also contrast enough with the button band to show up well, unlike my first choice of bright red... Still need to stitch the seams, sew on the buttons and stabilise the neckline edge. Am quite pleased with how the two different rainbow yarns worked together in harmony:

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My SMART goal list is getting a bit out of balance, as I seem to be putting more attention this year into making new things (which is good as it mostly uses up stashed supplies) and less into the continuing necessity to keep on decluttering. As I gradually get spaces into the kind of tidy order that makes it easy for me to function, I also keep uncovering inner layers of things that need sorted, organised, or given away. Hopefully in August, along with the many important projects that need to happen, I will fill many grocery sacks of stuff and supplies that can go to new homes via Goodwill or SCRAP.

That said, the ongoing if intermittent efforts over the last several years are really finally making a difference, everyone that visits mentions how nice the house looks, and in some aspects, I can see that too, and can also now begin to find things more easily. It is a challenge being a maker, and finding the balance between "I can do something interesting with that" and needing to keep my space cleared for actually doing stuff
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August SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - --
2 - --
3 x x -
4 x x -
5 xx -
6 x x -
7 x x -
8 x x -
9 x x -
10 x x -
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

dry heat

in which our plucky heroine is tired of the evil daystar...

If I wanted to live in Mordor, I would have moved to Mordor. It never cooled down last night, and we are ramping up into record breaking heat, forecast to be between 105 to 110F by Thursday. And the haze this morning was not my beloved marine layer of respite, but instead the particulates aka smokey layer pushing down here from the fires up in BC Canada. My beloved PNW is now a kind of hellish sandwich filling caught between the bad air from the north and the hot air from the south. All I can do is hide and wait for it to be over..

Monday, July 31, 2017

media Monday


in which our plucky heroine takes a day off...

Trying to get in a tiny bit of yard work each morning, before it gets too hot. Today I finished pruning the sage in the front yard, which is done blooming (it is a bee favorite when in bloom, covered with purple flowers). The blossom stalks take a few days of careful cutting back to live growth, but now the plant looks "tidy" again, and my hands and arms smell delightfully herbal
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Yesterday, whilst hiding indoors from the daystar, I decided to go ahead and make the collaged mirror I had been planning as part of the baby gifts.
two vintage Little Golden Books* were combined to create this...

I cut apart the scenes in the book and layer the component pieces to become a larger landscape... I like how this one reminds me of looking down the Columbia River towards the west.

The cows in this corner remind me of the cow sculptures in the field as you come down the hill to Mud Bay

It can be a real challenge to get the various pieces to look like they belong together...

Foxes added to a scene with washerwomen and a cow... some of the background images in these books from the 40's are odd, though charming...

* the books were not in good condition, so I had no qualms about cutting them up. I do not destroy useable books.
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I love Steven Universe, and wish that I had the kind of media access that would let me watch all the shows... (I also love Adventure Time. My nephews accuse me of not being a grownup. Sometimes they are entirely correct.) The surrealism amuses me, and the meta-content delights me.

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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag closet cleared left bag to Goodwill
4 octopus rattle pruned sage bag to Goodwill
5 rainbow bootiescleaned 4 box fans recycle bin
6 mirror collage 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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine keeps hiding indoors...

Though no one showed up on Thursday night for charter painting, I still took the evening off and started in on another local Baronial award... Even if this was not one that I myself had done the original artwork for, I would still enjoy the design. It is a lot of fun to see how it can look in a totally different colorway than the last time I painted this one, back in October of last year...

When painting the flowers, I was thinking about borage blossoms...

While there is obviously still a lot of detailing (and some of the base layers of paint) yet to finish, I couldn't resist adding some patterning to the garment on the righthand figure...
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Remind me not to check the weather, forecast looks really ugly. Heat is ramping up. Current prediction for next Wednesday is 107F, Thursday 110F. Might have to go fully crepuscular/nocturnal next week. Good thing my local grocery store is open til 11 PM, 'cos riding my bike to go shopping is not really a good option when the air is hotter than the body riding.
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag closet cleared left bag to Goodwill
4 octopus rattle pruned sage x
5 rainbow bootiesx x
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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

darkness not at noon

in which our plucky heroine reflect that it is often darkest before the dawn, or at least seems that way in contrast...

And with that in mind, I am hopeful that the upcoming total solar eclipse will at least be fairly notable here in Portland, since we are quite close. I foolishly did not make any plans to be ensconced somewhere along the actual eclipse path ahead of time, thinking, oh it is only an hour or so away from here, I could day trip with friends... Hah! the forecast is for world class traffic jams on the roads, so staying home seems sadly sensible. It does appear that it will become quite dark here just after 10 AM PST. There is a charming eclipse "simulator", as part of a joint effort with UC Berkeley and Google, where you can type in your location and get a general sense of what will be visible.
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday musings and music....


in which our plucky heroine is awed by courage...

Here at what feels like the end of the Anthropocene it is difficult to maintain any equanimity. Troubles large and small beset me, and many people I know, and even more people I do not know. Often I think of how this future has been rolling in slowly and inexorably for as many decades as I have had awareness to see it, even longer than that of course, but I often feel like someone on the edge of the Great Molasses Disaster, stuck in place as the hot tide rises to unbearable heat

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And yet, in the face of all this uncertainty, I persist in makerie, I resist the impulse to give up, and I cheer those who bravely do even more than I can... Dear friends are going to have a baby early this Autumn. Deeply wanted, and to be cherished by not only the immediate family, but by our whole community, which has very few children compared to the number of adults. I live too far away to be an immediate part of their lives, but as an auntie on the fringes, I am putting together handmade goodness to add my own small prayers and wishes for the child that is coming.
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Back in June I started on a handknit rainbow octopus baby rattle, which I finally finished this weekend. I have used this pattern before to make a baby toy, and this time, instead of a jingle bell inside a film can (which sounds rather like a spray paint can when shaken) I used the chime ball that was a gift from an old sweetheart, which makes a much gentler pleasant sound, wrapped inside the stuffing so as to be secure and safe. Of course, for a baby toy, the legs do NOT get pipe cleaners, but they stitch up into wiggly shapes even without the extra help, and eight tentacles give lots of things for babies to grip!

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Next up were some tiny rainbow bootees, because autumn babies need warm feet! I was unsure if continuing on with this theme would be a good idea, but when I asked Ariadne if a rainbow baby sweater would be too much, she responded "there is no such thing as too much rainbow"... indeed, my plan has been to create useful and colorful gifts that do not reference the current obsession with gendered baby gear, but celebrate the vivid reality of our outer and inner worlds.

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The current knitting project is an Elizabeth Zimmerman "Baby Surprise Jacket" in the same rainbow wool as the bootees. I love the colors of the yarn.

It is very slow going on this project… the knitting itself is not difficult, but the yarn, which I've never worked with before, is a challenge. It is very soft and smooth, feels more like cotton than wool, which will be really lovely for a baby sweater. OTOH, it is very splitty to knit with, which given that I needed to go to size 2 needles to get gauge, means that I cannot simply knit on, but need to pay careful attention to every stitch. Using it as an opportunity to focus attention on good wishes for the child coming to my dear friends, rather like a fairy godmother would do…

Thanks to Sharon Rose for lending me the wee size 2 long circular needle! (and the EZ book with the instructions so I don't have to keep borrowing the book from the library)
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag closet cleared left bag to Goodwill
4 octopus rattle x x
5 rainbow bootiesx x
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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

kolrosing

in which our plucky heroine wants to add decoration to all the things...
Whilst at ATWW earlier this month, I took a class on "kolrosing" (a method of decorating wooden objects by incising lines with a sharp knife, rubbing charcoal into the cuts, then smoothing the surface to allow the design to be visible)... when I got home, I realised that this one wooden spoon in my kitchen would be an ideal candidate. It is a quick, fun, relatively easy way to add simple embellishment to everyday objects.

a closer look at the handle of the wooden spoon decorated with an interlace pattern

There is not a lot of information out there on how far back kolrosing goes in history, primarily I suspect since the objects so decorated have not survived. Here is one article that attempts to document the process. The process is similar in some ways to tattooing, and also to scrimshaw.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

workbench Wednesday


in which our plucky heroine has a dream come true...

I have wanted a European style metalworking bench for decades. Instead have made do over the years with assorted thrifted desks, and most recently for the last almost twenty years with a kludged together combination of Ikea IVAR components, which allowed for adjusting the benchtop height to a better level. When Blue Cedar House let me know that they had a source for surplus 3/4" furniture grade plywood, a cunning plan ensued.

My first thought was to use the plywood to greatly stabilise the basic Ivar structure, using it almost like creating a partial torsion box; the plywood skin is much stronger than the thin steel x-frame that usually keeps the IVAR structures from rack and ruin.

Since it doesn't take much surface area to do the job, I had Farbjorn cut a variant on my house decorative motif into the top edge of the back, and mount that panel a little bit lower than the top of the framework, but just high enough that anything on the upper workbench shelf would not roll over the edge and onto the workroom floor. The side panels only cover the benchtop area and partway down the sides, about half of each side panel in total, which adds a significant area that can be now configured for storage without making the bench too heavy to move.

This view makes me all kinds of happy, with all the different complex curves. Right now the workbench is empty of contents, but the corner spots on the upper shelf that usually hold lazy susan turntables are visible in the variable color of the upper shelf. I had created the upper shelf from a standard IVAR shelf when I moved here to Acorn Cottage, as a way to keep more of the small hand tools accessible, and as it works well, saw no reason to change that aspect.

The workbench top, however, was significantly reinforced, gluing and screwing two layers of the plywood to the former benchtop, for a total of just over 2" thick. Since my sabre saw wouldn't be able to cut such a thick chunk, Farbjorn marked out and cut the curve from each layer separately, then attached them together, and finally spent time with a rasp and file making all the curves smoothly align. This thick benchtop has a very solid feel now, and the additional layers bring it up to a good level for me to comfortably rest my arms while working on tiny details. We had to raise the upper shelf one notch to compensate for the increased height.

This style of workbench with a central cutout is more commonly found in the Old World, and not commercially available here. I am not sure how far back in history the concept goes. The basic idea is to have a tall workbench that supports your work and your arms at a useful height to avoid back strain. I found some useful hints about bench ergonomics on this website about the "FrankenBench"

This half circle cutout is close to the shape of a traditional jewelry/metalworking bench. The bench pin to support sawing and filing small pieces will fit neatly in the center of the curve, I plan on a visit to Oregon Leather, for a chunk of hide to make the traditional hanging leather underbench drape that catches anything dropped from the benchtop. The refurbished workbench will make my shop a bit more congruent with the premise of William Morris, I know it to be useful and believe it to be beautiful... plus it will make that aspect of my "going to work" much more pleasant and functional.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday tidbits


...in which our plucky heroine shares some recent items of note...

this tiny OCF peach, made from a disc of pure silver just under 3/4" in diameter, and stamped by Bill Dawson... I enameled it using an attempt at the medieval basse-taille technique, where the bas-relief of the base plate is enhanced by adding transparent enamels in various colors across the surface, without using wires to separate the color as in cloisonne.
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All the small decorative enameled discs for the Wastekeep coronets are finished, and were sent off northwards to be added to the component parts in process, bringing the project that much closer to completion. In addition, I have now acquired cobalt blue and golden yellow dupioni silk, so as to start on creating the striped silk coronet padding, which will be an interesting project in itself.
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This is, in fact, a tiny drawstring bag, inspired by a Japanese style of rice storage bag... made by me. I was inspired by the talented Gwen Bury to start creating small cloth bags-of-holding to contain my assorted bits inside the lovely tine box that Drusa made for me, so that when opening the lid, the interior does justice to the beautiful exterior. Also small bags keep the contents of sewing box or purse well organised and tidy

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I was in the backyard, summer pruning the apple, when I noticed that the young feral grapevine has two tiny bunches of grapes!! This grape plant showed up in the middle of the backyard three years ago, probably planted by squirrels. When I realised what it was, we transplanted it next to the chain link fence, where it has been growing for the last two years... this year it grew exponentially, and had some tiny flower bunches, and some now seem to have turned into grapes... No idea if they are a tasty variety, but can always be used for verjuice... I figured to be happy with some grape leaves I could use for making dolmas, actual grapes are a plus.
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July SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 20 enamels for Wastekeep apron dress yard waste bin
2 tiny peach enamel workbench refurbishbag to Goodwill
3 tiny linen bag x x
4 x x x
5 xx x
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