Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finishing on a High Note

As I lay in bed the other day, trying to rouse myself into an upright position, I reviewed the past year, and realized that 2015 has been a very good year.  One thing was missing, and that was finishing that dad-burned warp on dear Jenny.  Two years ago, it began as a baby blanket warp, I finished two of them, and decided I'd had enough, and there were no more babies forthcoming.  I rethreaded it once into a less intense Huck lace pattern, but it had 10 errors in it.  I pulled it all out again, and began an overshot pattern from Bertha Gray Hayes book on miniature overshot patterns.  Juliet 2, with a view revisions, is my new pattern, and I got up this morning determined to finish it.  

As I threaded, I kept the doors closed to the loominaria, due to the intense curiosity and determination of my new kittens, Sunny and Daisy.  Sunny likes to watch Daisy's feats of daring, and then follow, if there are no bad consequences, e.g. Mom yelling.  When Daisy got stuck in the neighboring tapestry loom's warp, Sunny came over to play with the brake handle.  Daisy was quite stuck for a few minutes, but managed to get free, and try it again.  In the interest of good warp health, I've decided to keep the room shut up, cat free for now.

My class, finals day!

One of the reasons I've posted so little this year is that I've gotten a part time job, teaching Baking Skills at the local community college.  I love teaching more than I ever thought possible, but it has taken all the rest of my time and energy.  I hope to keep up with my blog this coming year, but please bear with me!  I miss your comments and following all your blogs, and will try to keep in touch in 2016.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Where Did it Go?

I posted a new blog entry, the first one since March, on Thursday, and it disappeared.  Vanished without a trace!  I have no idea what happened!

 I've had a busy spring and summer, full of lots of sewing and baking and running the neighborhood group.  The summer began with a prelude to my new part time job, teaching pastry and baking at Pellissippi College.  First, I taught cream puffs and eclairs, and here is photo of my happy students.  Next, I taught pies, which ran too long, and made a couple of pie-makers unhappy.  Sorry!  They still got two luscious pies to take home, even though it was a bit late.
  Classes start in two weeks, and I'm a little nervous because I've never taught in this kind of setting, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Two of my co-workers told me they were expecting girls a couple of months ago, so I got busy knitting them girly sweaters.  It was so fun!  I wanted to make another!  So, my friend Cindy obliged by asking me to make one for her new granddaugher, Lilie Rae. She got a hat as a bonus, but I might have made it a little too small.  It's been a while since I've even held an infant, and had trouble gauging the size.
  I'm over my fascination with baby sweaters, certainly with pink ones for now, but it certainly was fun!

 And then, it was my birthday.  Bella and I headed north to Richmond to spend a week with Mom and Liz.  I made my own birthday cake, a Boston Cream Pie, which exceeded my expectations.  My lovely sister gave me a chop saw for my birthday, and taught me how to use it, which was very exciting.  I still have all my fingers, for those who wonder.
Mom and I went to Mount Vernon, and had a wonderful, if somewhat warm day.  The mansion is right on the Potomac River, and the back porch was the coolest part of the place.  What a beautiful view from the porch!  I could just picture George and Martha hanging out there with a julep on a summer day.
 This is Mom's first selfie, so I wish I could have gotten more of her face in the photo.  We're there with George, getting ready for our tour of the farm.

Of course, we had to go the Spinning Room, which did have two very large spinning wheels, but we liked the loom.  There are normally demonstrators, but not when we were there.  We walked for miles, saw everything we could see, and had a lovely day.
  I'm weaving for the first time in probably 6 months, so I need to get back to it.  I hope you had a lovely summer, too!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Tale of Two Blouses

 From the inside, today looks beautiful, but after a week of lovely weather, yesterday turned bitter cold and gross again.  Today is sunny but the wind will grab you right by the throat.  That's why aside from once around the park with Bella, I've been inside sewing all day.
  I started with the pattern on the right, a Rebecca Taylor design, full of ruffles and tucks.  I messed up the button bands, and have laid it aside while I picked up the newest project from Merchant & Mills, the Camber set.  I've started with the blouse, because I'm not sure how it will look on me as a dress yet.  I've chosen some coarse linen that I dyed a sage green last summer, and I decided to embellish it with some machine made lace.  It was my first try, and it didn't come out very well.  I think it needs a tulle backing.  The blouse will be a breeze to make up, though, and I'll do that after I write this.
  I've had an ideas while sewing all those ruffles on the other blouse:  wouldn't it be cool to make it again with lace instead of ruffles?  And wouldn't it be cool if I knitted the lace myself?  So when I needed a break from sewing, I started knitting some lace on fine needles with some linen thread.  It's fun!  It goes a little slowly, but I really enjoy it, and with only 6 rows to the pattern, I've already memorized it and can cruise along.

 Because of the fine weather earlier in the week, my Jane Magnolia has burst into bloom, and here it is, using the neighbor's stinky Bradford Pear as a backdrop.  I'm hoping tomorrow after work, I can finish tilling the garden without freezing, and get these pea seedlings in the ground.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Dress in a Day

The Merchant & Mills Factory Dress is another kind of frumpy, plain design, but there was something that made me want to make it anyway.   When LouAnn and I were out and about a few weeks ago, I got the end of a bolt at Gina's Bernina, a tiny print of pink flowers.  It wasn't enough to make anything, only 1.25 yards, but I had 3 yards of pink seersucker I bought last summer at Textiles in Nashville that was still uncut.  I put the two together, and made a frumpy, plain design cheerful and spring-like.  

It was almost warm enough to wear yesterday, and is seen hanging from the Red Bud tree that is about to burst into copious bloom.  But the garden beckoned, and is now about 2/3 tilled and weeded.  The leaves in the front yard finally got raked and composted.  I had to be content with admiring my morning's work--6 hours to finish the dress!--and enjoying the rest of a beautiful early spring day.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sow and Sew

Spring fever hit this week.  The temperatures soared from the teens to the 70's, the snow melted and the rains came.  Grass seed has been flung, seeds and soil have been purchased and planned, shrubs have  been pruned.
   I confess that I wish winter would last just one more week, because I'm almost finished with a beautiful winter coat, and I'm going to hate to put it away unworn. It's a brushed twill in a tan wool, and it's so soft and warm.  It's lined with cream colored polyester, and I've found such lovely oval metal buttons for it.

This is not a great photo, but I took a break from the coat to make another denim dress from Grainline Studios, and tried some fancy stitching on the pocket.  It ran off the pocket, and I'm still trying to decide if I can live with that, or rip it out.  I'll sleep on it.

 A few weeks ago, while I was making the black winter coat with the teal lining, I made a blouse from the same teal fabric.  It's from a  Colette pattern, my second Colette pattern, and I'm just as unhappy with the pattern as the first.  Things don't lie right, and aren't well thought out.  They're made, I think, to be easier than traditional patterns, and as a consequence, things just don't look good.  Instead of armhole facings on this one, the piece extends out, and you're supposed to fold it in and tack it down.  Well, the tacking shows!  And it's hideous.  I tried beading over it, but that looks worse.  I do love, however, how I hid the snap stitching, by beading daisies over it.  It was a great t.v. watching project, and I love the contrast.  I'll post a photo of the finished blouse when I've figured out how to fix the sleeves.

 Even though it's been misting all day, I did manage to muck out some weeds from the garden bed.  I quit when I got aggravated from walking around with an inch of clay on my boots!  But I got quite a lot done.  I have 4 bags of compost in the car waiting for me to finish.  And in the meantime, I got all the seeds in the starter trays that needed early starting:  tomatoes, pepper, beans, peas and more peas.  I cannot wait until there are little plants in my dining room nursery!
  It's almost spring, and I'll soon have a new wardrobe, and new edibles.  Yippee!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Accomplishing Things

As reported everywhere, it's been cold, icy and snowy here in Knoxville the last few weeks.  And like LouAnn, Carol and Tina over at Loomy Tunes, I've been stuck inside on my days off.  I kept myself busy, mostly sewing, looking at the back yard in its various stages of freeze and thaw.
  The first thing I tackled was the Dress Shirt by Merchant & Mills, the pattern company Theresa, from Camp Runamuck has been talking about on her blog.  I was disappointed in the finished result, because it just looks frumpy!  I made it of navy blue linen I'd had for years, and had hesitated cutting into it.  I think maybe in the summer it'll be a light, airy thing to slip on when it's too hot to bear anything touching me.  It was fun to make, and I think for future use, the pattern will make a wonderful night gown.  LouAnn stopped by last week with the whole packet of patterns, and I've copied two of them to try later.

 The next project looks awful in the picture, but it's really cute.  It's another dress shirt, a pattern from Grainline Studio, .  This is one version, with sleeves added to cover my middle-aged upper arms.  The other view on the pattern has a gathered skirt, and it's cut out but not started here in the sewing room, also out of denim.

 The next piece is a warm winter coat that I blogged about last time, made of a beautiful piece of silky wool, with a cashmere collar and the teal piece of luscious polyester.  It's had a spin or two around Knoxville in the frosty weather, and I like it a lot.
 And today, I finished a blouse I've been working on all week, grabbing minutes before and after work to make it.  It's a piece of cotton-polyester blend I got from Mom's stash last summer.  It was a plain old cream, and I dyed it a sage green that I really like.  I used the Loes Hinse pattern for the Milan shirt.  I'd put in a link, but can't seem to find the right one.  I've made this blouse three times now, and I really like its simple structure and straight lines.  I'll wear it tomorrow to the Neighborhood Conference, where I'll be all day, volunteering to help wherever needed.

Icy Red Bud
I'd rather be outside instead, but it's still cold, though sunny and beautiful.  Bella and I strolled around the park, but came in when the wind chilled us.  If you see Spring anywhere, please tell her we miss her and would like her to come visit us!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Looking Backward to Go Forward

This is a pattern I fell in love and started to make in 1991, back when I was in love with a ne'er-do-well who took me nice places, requiring formal attire.  I had chosen a beautiful teal fabric with darker teal ripples through it, and some lighter teal for the underlining.  I bought it at the now-defunct Cloth World, a place I loved to go on my days off to fondle fabric and dream of outfits yet to be.
  Now, this dress looks silly, with it's gi-normous shoulders, but I still love the pleats everywhere.  I've lost the waist that would have been accentuated, and will never make this dress, but it was a lovely thought.
  And alas, Ne'er-do-well lived up to his description and dumped me before I had the second sleeve cut out.  But look at the advantage it's given me!  I now have that lovely teal fabric to line a new winter coat.  I'd thank him, but if I ever see him again, I'd punch him in the nose so  hard, thank you would seem a silly thing to say.

I bought this nice coat pattern a few years ago, and really like the two asymmetrical views, and the white coat.  I've chosen the white style to make the next coat, using this lovely wool-silk blend, lined with the teal fabric, and because I ran out of the wool-silk before I cut out the facings and collar, I raided my scrap pile and found a big-enough piece of black cashmere for that.  It will be one classy coat, and I'm anxious to get started.
  But first, I need to finish a top I cut out a few weeks ago.   Sleeves are going in next, and I'll show you it when it's done.

I leave you with my work from yesterday:  Banana pudding cupcakes, vegan Mexican hot chocolate and gluten free pecan caramel turtles.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I'm Still Here!

If anyone has been wondering where I've been in all this time, I want you to know that I'm still here, still baking, weaving, knitting and still  hanging out with the furry entourage.

Work dominates my life, in ways pleasant and unpleasant.

For Christmas gifts for families and friends, I made tamales, chicken and beef.  I've heard they're delicious, but I haven't even tried my batch yet!

I've been involved with some city government work that is fascinating and time consuming.  I've finished an 11-week course in building strong neighborhoods, but my own neighborhood group is floundering.  My great speaker series that I thought would be so invigorating didn't draw crowds, except for the one featuring Jack Neely, our local historian.  Read about him here:  He came to explain to us why our neighborhood exists, how it came to be settled in the teens and twenties of the 20th century.  The rest were not so well received, and now, we can't get enough neighbors to attend to have a real election.  I'm still President, and still struggling with getting more people involved.
Camelias blooming 

I am working on a neat project through the North Broadway Task Force, trying to get six artist-designed bus stops installed along North Broadway Street, from Central to I-640.  Yesterday, we met with a representative from Knox Area Transit to pick out potential bus stop sites.  I think this project will probably take a couple of years, but it will be cool!
And I've been knitting like a crazy woman, every time I sit down.  At Christmas, I promised myself not to make every gift for everyone, the way I usually do.  The tamales took a day, and cookies took another.  Everything was mailed quickly to ensure freshness, and then I was able to enjoy the holidays.
In January!
Since then, I've almost finished the black chenille sweater, and did finish the yellow-green sweater, but have not been able to face its redoing of the sleeves.  I've finished LouAnn's socks--check out her entry at Loomy Tunes this past Thursday--and have wanted to start a pair of socks for myself, just haven't yet.
Well, Ramen broth is brewing for dinner, and it smells delicious.  Bella needs walking, and I might need to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey one more time.  Have a lovely week, and stay warm!