Sunday, August 21, 2016

No More Nudity in the Studio

Since I've moved to Brasstown, Tootsie and Jenny have been naked, or nearly so.  Tootsie came with a problematic turned-overshot warp that was only wound on the back beam, but Jenny was, and still is, naked as a jay bird.  Last weekend, I unwound Tootsie's warp completely, and wound the tabby warp and the pattern warp together.  It was already threaded and sleyed, and it was a bit tricky.  It took several hours, and a little cursing and yelling--picture running cats and a dog who always thinks everything is her fault--but I got it done.  Originally a curtain for my kitchen in Knoxville, it will now become napkins.  

Today, I'm giving my first dinner party in Brasstown, but as I clean and cook, I'm going to be working on Jenny's new warp, a blue, green and purple hand dyed warp of 240 ends that will turn into Christmas gifts.  I have to run to Lowe's first to get some parts that I lost while moving, but then, she'll be closer to being dressed. She'll at least have a warp draped on her!  I've picked out a miniature overshot pattern LouAnn gave to our guild long ago, Cat's Tracks.  Appropriate given my usual company at home.

I always mean to take photos of the food we're making at the Folk School, but it's always such a rush to get it out, I forget to have my phone with me.  Some of it is beautiful, some of it is just comforting.  The students fill out comment cards every week when they leave, and some of them are nice, and some of them are just plain hateful.  I try to avoid reading them, but my immediate supervisor takes great pleasure in copying the worst and giving them to me.  This week, she not only did that, but she also read them aloud to me.  It was a rough week, and there are times when I certainly question my decision to take this job.  But I've learned a lot about myself, that I am a pretty good cook, and a good supervisor, and most importantly, that you cannot please everyone. 

Food is deeply personal.  It has all kinds of emotions and memories and wants and desires tied up in it.  I can't make everyone's favorite dish, or make it the way they're used to.  I can't accommodate every person's dietary preferences, and this whole gluten-free thing has gotten way out of control.  But my team and I do our very best, and more frequently as we go on, hit the mark.  There will always be mean people, right alongside the kind ones.  And anonymous comment cards are perfect vehicles for those who want to hurt people without getting caught.  The day I had to endure the ugly comments being read to me, I worked at the window in the kitchen, taking back dishes from the students, and so many were warm and friendly and encouraging, I realized that many more people like what we're doing than those venting their spleen in private.  

So, we will soldier on!  I'm making good friends and getting good things done on my days off.  Life could be worse!  I could still be going to work at 4 in the morning, working two jobs and never having energy left to do the things I love or being with the people I care about.  As LouAnn pointed out last time I was in Knoxville, I see her more now than I did when I was there full time!
After I finish the green-blue-purple shawls on Jenny, she will be covered in dish towels of the Huck lace variety.  I'm warping on an old warping board I got from Mom, that my dear handy sister Liz put back together for me.  It's a little high up, hanging from the bathroom door, so I can only wind about 24 ends per bout, but it will be done soon!  488 ends!  It's some organic 8/2 cotton I bought from Lunatic Fringe several years ago, and I am excited to get started!  I've wanted to do some more Huck lace, and I love the way it looks in natural cotton.

I smell the charcoal outside, ready to smoke a nice fat pork butt.  Time to make some 'cue!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


As you know, if you read Loomy Tunes,, LouAnn and I celebrate our birthdays for at least a month.  She and her sister, Joyce, came to my house last in Knoxville last week, and loaded up two looms, Tootsie and Jenny, and brought them to Brasstown.  I should be weaving by now, but I can't remember what I did with all the bits and pieces I took off to get them in the car.  I know they went into my shorts' pocket, but I don't think they were in there when I was driving.  I suspect they're in Knoxville.  Which is fine, since I'm going back there this weekend, and can get them, but I can't weave until then.
So, they sit upstairs in the studio-guest room-loft, nekkid and unused.  All I can do right now is occasionally fondle them and dream about what's to come.  I filled a large bookcase with all my cone yarns, and was surprised at how much it is, especially since it's minus the carpet warp, that is still in Knoxville.
  I have two warps vying for attention to be the next on Jenny.  I think I'm going with the purple-green, because the orange one is probably too wide for Jenny.  I dyed it to go on Jennifer, who is still in Knoxville.  

 I haven't been doing other crafts, except knitting an occasional round on the socks.  I had another person quit last week, and have been cooking a lot more than I'm supposed to, according to my job description.  We have someone trying out today, and our fingers are crossed that he is good.  
  All around the Folk School is lovely right now, though a bit hot.  Last Friday, I took a break after lunch and went to the Cooking School herb garden.  Isn't it lovely?  And in the shade, it wasn't as hot as the kitchen had been.  
  It was the first birthday in many years that I didn't go to Richmond to be lauded and honored on the actual day, so I tried to make it special on my own.  I drove to Blairsville, GA, because I read they were having a Green Bean Festival.  Well that sounded like fun!  It's not far, and it was easy to find.  But it was just the weekly farmers' market, and they were selling t-shirts, which I totally meant to buy one of, but forgot.  I was on hand to see the kazoo parade, and that's probably why I forgot about the t-shirt!
 Yes, that's a large green bean she is holding!  The funny part is that there were only two stands in the entire market selling green beans!  In my garden, the season is past, but in the mountains, it's still cool enough.  
  After the festival, I went to Blue Ridge, GA, and I suppose I should have taken pictures of it.  It's certainly picturesque enough, but just imagine any other tourist-y town with turn of the century buildings turned into t-shirt shops and "upscale" women's clothing and trendy restaurants, and you've got your own picture.  It wasn't special, judged on those terms.  But it was a pretty drive, and I had a good burger.

That night, Bella wanted out at 1:04 am, and when she went out, so did Leo.  I've been really careful to not let him out during the night, because this place is the WILDERNESS!   It's no place for 15-year-old orange tabbies!  But out he ran, and I couldn't catch him.  I yelled an impolite warning to him, and went back to bed, thinking he'd be out on the deck when I woke back up. 
  Well, he wasn't, and I couldn't find him, and he didn't answer my calls.  I went to breakfast and to Home Depot, and he still wasn't on the deck, waiting for me.  Every few minutes, I looked outside, called, walked up the road calling.  At about 6:00 that evening, I swear I heard him screaming, just twice and not far away.  I ran into the woods, hollering his name, but got stuck on an evil vine over and over again.  This vine in leafless and covered in thorns and kept ripping my flesh.  I stood very still and tried to hear Leo again, but he didn't cry again.  I could only picture him in his death throes out in the woods, alone, and I realized then how much these furry guys mean to me.  Of course, I love them and take care of them, but Leo has been with me since he was 5 weeks old, and imagining life without him was tearing me up.
  I slept restlessly that night, getting up every so often to check the deck and holler for him, but not answer.  At about 7:30 yesterday morning, Bella and I went for our walk, and not 25 yards up the road, sat a sad orange tabby, staring at us, about 10 feet from the road.  I screamed, scared him and off he ran!  But he's old, and I caught him.  He struggled to get out of my arms, probably because I might have been gripping him a little too strongly.
  When we got to the house, he ate an entire bowl of food, drank like a parched sailor and then collapsed on the floor.  He just had the strength to reach and touch my shoe.  24 hours later, he's still pretty tired and isn't up to jumping up onto anything.  I'd love to know what adventures he's had!  But he isn't talking.  He's already eyeing the door, but he isn't getting out any time soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


  After six LONG weeks without internet, I have reconnected with the world, and though it's slow going, with an intermittent connection--because I live in the middle of a beautiful nowhere--I feel so...modern!
  Three months ago, I applied for the job of Executive Chef at John C. Campbell Folk School. Check it out:  Now, you all know that I'm a pastry chef, not a chef of cuisine.  YOU know that, but they didn't know it.  I'd been teaching cuisine this spring, that's true, and I'd learned a lot, mostly that I already knew how to cook better than I thought I did.  But I applied, and had an interview in May.  At the end of the month, they offered me the job, and offered to pay me what I was making at both jobs I was working in Knoxville. 
  So, the pets and I relocated.  I started on June 9, and I won't lie:  It's been a rocky road.  I inherited a staff that was hired quickly when everyone walked out with the former chef, and a couple of people who'd been rapidly promoted out of their depths to run the kitchen in his absence.  Three of those people have left since then, for various reasons, and I'm desperately looking for cooks and dishwashers, but I've promoted two really strong people, and the menus are becoming my own.  You crafty friends out there are very welcome to come to the folk school, take classes, eat my food, and come by to say hi.  
  The pets have settled in, mostly.  Since Carol took the kittens to live with her, Weftie has become very affectionate, and I'll say it, a little needy.  But he's never moved before, and considering all the changes that happened to him in just a few months, he's doing well.  Leo's always a cool cucumber.  He's done a little too much exploring, running outside, into the woods, and not returning for hours.  Scares the be-jesus out of me!  He's too slow nowadays to outrun danger.  
 Bella and I have been making almost-weekly trips to Knoxville, to check on the house, and to bring things I miss back to Brasstown.  This week, she had to ride in the front seat, and got this picture of her, as she stared at me while I drove.  She's evolving into a country girl, enjoying the walks up and down the mountain we live on.  The deer freak her out still, but she loves to hang out on the deck.

Ruby Suby has had trouble adjusting, and had to have her brake rotors polished to stop the annoying squealing she was making as she made her way down mountains.  There is not straight way from Brasstown to Knoxville, and it's all up and down the Appalachians.  It's beautiful, but it's hard on a girl's brakes.

Without the looms, I've been knitting a lot.  I've finished a sweater, almost finished a pair of socks and have knitted a lot of fussy, tiny lace.  

 But mostly, I've been working.  Even though the kitchen has been very challenging, being surrounded by artists has been wonderful.  I needed new soup bowls, and I called the resident potter, who whipped up 15 new bowls in a week.  And they're gorgeous.  His name is Mike Lalone, and his stuff is sold in the Craft Shop at the folk school.  You need some of his work in your house, don't you?
 And the ladle on the right was made for me as a thank you gift from one of the blacksmiths when I made some baked potatoes and baked beans for their cook out.  It is so lovely!  It now hangs by my front door in a place of honor.  

  This past week, LouAnn and her sister, Joyce helped me move two looms to Brasstown, but I haven't had time to work on them yet.  This Saturday, I turn 59, and haven't decided how I'll celebrate yet, but some time might be devoted to getting the turned overshot warp re-wound and woven.  I will definitely take time to enjoy the deck, with the flowers I've rescued from the Near Death Plant Rack at Lowe's.  Here are some examples:

I promise to be in touch more in the future, and hope you can all take a class at the folk school in the near future!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Stormy Promises

 When I got home yesterday, I had a new gift for myself waiting on the front porch.  I'd ordered the new Workbook from Merchant & MIlls, a packet of 6 patterns.  I took a nice cold beer and the packet outside on a beautiful spring day to check it out.  
  The designs are simple and stylish, with interesting details.  Check it out here:
I had a long day yesterday, and didn't trust myself to start anything, so I put it away for the night, after reading the workbook cover to cover.

 Yesterday morning, I finished the orange huck lace shirt, minus the buttons and buttonholes.  I had to go get the buttons this morning, but with a huge storm coming up, I only felt brave enough to go to the small JoAnn's in my neighborhood. I got some buttons that will work, but they don't excite me.  I might pause a little while before I add them, in case I have time to find some sassier buttons.

 So, after a good night's sleep, I tackled the new patterns.  They have to be traced onto pattern fabric, because they're printed on both sides, and sometimes, they're printed in each other.  Many years ago, I bought an entire bolt of pattern fabric, so I was equipped.  It made me chuckle that the instructions say to use "tins of beans" to weight the cloth!  Well, I only had two tins of bins, and had to use tomatoes and tomato paste!  

They worked fine, and I got two tops' patterns cut out.  I don't know if you can tell that the bottom photo is of some pale green linen being cut into a cute wrap top.  I also have some yummy pale yellow linen that I want to cut out, but I want to make sure this top fits first.

A long time ago, I blogged about cutting out this embroidered stretch cotton top, a design by Claude Montana, a pattern that I bought in 1999 in Kalispell, Montana!  It's a long, slim tunic, with a zipper in the front instead of buttons.  The fabric is gorgeous, but I made the mistake of cutting out the back too close to the selvedge.  There was a blank space, about four inches wide.  I started working on this yesterday, saw the mistake and put it aside.  I slept on it overnight, and decided to cut a triangle to applique over the top of the naked spot, because the front has top stitched darts that echo the triangle.  I like it fine, and have moved on, putting the zipper in the front.  I got to the point today where I needed to top stitch the zipper, and it was beyond my afternoon mental capacity.  
  The storm never fulfilled its potential, and it's even clearing up.  I would love to go get some shrubs for the side yard, and will post about them next week!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Finishing Touches

Today is a special day, my first day of no work whatsoever in 10 days.  I have been sewing since the wee hours, and am now getting ready to go have a lovely afternoon out and about with LouAnn.
  But first, you must see what I've finished this week!
Here is the lime green blouse, with festive floral buttons and hand-knitted lace.  I wore it yesterday, and so it's a tiny bit wrinkled.  But I just had to show it to you.

 And here is what I'm wearing today.  It's that pattern I've been talking about that Theresa posted about.  I have to say that the photo doesn't do it justice, but I might have just convinced myself extra hard that the dyed fabric does with the sage green linen.  It might not, but I don't care!  I'm wearing it today, and I'm super excited about it!  I love the way the hot pink bands on the sleeves go with the splashes of tie dye.  

 And the fire shirt got sunny buttons!  Perfect!  I haven't tied the threads off yet, and this picture makes it look a lot more fuschia than orange, but I can't wait to wear it!    With what, I have no idea, but I can't wait!

The periwinkle sweater got close enough this week to think about its bottom, and I found a heart lace pattern in Nicki Epstein's first book on embellishment.  I just have to knit a swatch before I can continue, to see if it comes out when knitted upside down.  See, the pattern is written from the pointy end of the heart up, and I need it to be from the top down.  More later...

And that's it!  That's all I've done this week, besides workworkwork!  Now for some ME time.  Have  a good week!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Resolutions

 At the beginning of a new year, I do make some resolutions, but rarely keep them.  I think Spring is more of beginning, though, and I enjoy making Spring time resolutions more.  The weather is fine, everything is blooming, and I feel more positive than in the gloom of deep winter.  
  So, I resolved last week to spend more time outdoors, and really, really intended to work in the garden and make a new compost bin.  The problem is that I wake up far before dawn cracks, and get started on projects in the sewing room, and ended up last weekend spending the morning outside, dyeing.  I was outside!  I just didn't do a darn thing to the yard, except spill a little purple dye in the newly-green grass.

My intentions were good!  I just didn't make it to the garden.  Hence, it's sad state of disrepair.  I know, though, that we have at least a month more of the threat of frost, and that's my current excuse.
I had such a pleasant time dyeing, though.  I also dyed a piece of linen two shades of plum that didn't photograph well.  You'll just have to use your imagination, and I'll show you what I made once I do make it into something.  
  The tie-dyed piece is to make the center and sleeves of the pattern I showed last week.  I cut the green linen into the swing coat pattern, and didn't have enough to make the other top.  So, I dyed white linen.  The green is not a perfect match, but I will forge ahead.  If it doesn't look great, I had fun doing it, anyway, and will probably wear it happily.
  After the dyeing was done, I washed out the purple, and noticed to my horror that the rinse water all came out onto the floor of the laundry room.  I'd noticed and ignored other water during the week prior, hoping it was a figment of my imagination, but when the water was deep purple, it was hard to ignore.  I spent most of yesterday shopping for a new washer and dryer to replace my 12-year-old set.  The dryer still works, but it's had its repairs, too, and is making suspicious noises.  I felt it was better to get the whole job done at once. 
  I finally found someone to help me at the third box store I went to, and even though another store had a slightly better price, I felt it was worth it to reward the person who helped me.  The new set will be delivered Friday, and washing will commence!
  Another resolution I made was to start working out.  If my 82-year-old mother can join a gym, so can I!  So I joined the local YMCA and went for the first time yesterday.  Whew!  I am certainly out of shape!  But I am resolved to be that way no more, and am going to a yoga class in a few minutes. 
  But first, I must show you the latest finished piece, all but buttons and buttonholes.  Alas, someone coughed up a hair ball on it--a fact of my life--which explains the dirt on it.  This is more lime green cotton with a little spandex in it that I bought at Textiles last year.  I'm going to hand sew some lace on it that I knitted this winter, going around the collar, and then, I'll put on the cute daisy buttons I found last week.  It makes me feel like spring is already here!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's Nice Outside, But...

All I want to do is sew!  I started early this morning, finishing the top stitching on the button band on this Collette pattern, and I was relieved that my self-drafted facing worked neatly.  The original pattern instructions call for seam binding that is supposed to go down the fronts from the back yoke and is supposed to be tucked neatly into the button bands.  I've made this blouse twice before, and both times, the seam binding has been lumpy and uncooperative.  This time I thought I'd try a facing, and loved the way this batik cotton gave it a little private flair.  No one will see it but me, and I love the way it came out.  The blouse front lays flat, and it looks much nicer.  I need to make the vents for the sleeves next, and that is always a daunting task for me, no matter how many times I've done it. 

So I moved on to more fun things.  Like this piece of dark green linen that I think I bought in 2008, the first time I ever went to Textiles in Nashville  I bought 3 yards of it, and it's 60 inches wide, so there's lots to play with.  I bought this pattern at JoAnn's last week when they had all Butterick patterns for $1.99.  All but the sleeves and collars are cut out singly, to make the unusual drape.  I'm going to make a pair of bag waisted pants from the rest of the linen, but I don't think they'll go together.  I think the top needs a slimmer profile under it.  

But before I started that, I cut out a tunic from a Burda pattern that is basically a long button down shirt.  This fabric is something that I bought for my mom a few years ago, also at Textiles in Nashville, but I don't think she liked it.  When she invited me to take her fabric stash last summer, I brought it home, and only today noticed that it has Huck lace in the weave!  It also has some thick-and-thin, and some satin weave in it.  I made the strips of lace and other textures go vertical to help me appear slimmer, something I can always use!


Daisy and Sunny, 8 1/2 months old

 Well, it's just too nice.  I think I'd better walk Bella before it's summer and I regret letting this day pass.  The kittens will just keep lounging. I hope it's just as lovely wherever you are!