Thursday, January 29, 2009

gone south for the winter

Me, travel? huh. yeah right. My idea of going south for the winter is driving to Iron Ridge. (about 7 miles directly south)
I have not physically traveled anywhere, but for the last two weeks or so my imagination and dreams have been in the south.

I have been reading Gone With the Wind... I saw the movie many years ago, but the book seemed daunting to me, so long and heavy.
My friend Lynda told me I absolutely MUST read the book. Lynda's book recommendations are often spot-on for me, after all she is a librarian. My favorite book genre is historical I downloaded GWTW to my Kindle and jumped head first into the south and the civil war and everything else.

As usual, Lynda was right, this book is a page turner! I know how the story ends, but each page is so wonderfully descriptive, and I just got sucked in,,, Whoosh!


Yesterday I received my copy of anothe book that I had perused at my local book store, and decided NOT to purchase. The images and designs in the book were so inspirational and haunting.........I had to go back to get it.... of course, all copies had been sold. So,,, I have been looking for it at all the bricks and mortar bookstores around the area........(remember, I don't travel far) and not one had a copy. I ordered it online,,, and it arrived yesterday.

Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style

Whoosh, back to the south! This book does not disappoint, here is a quote from Amazon

“Haute homespun out of the Deep South.” That’s how Vogue magazine has described the fashion of Natalie Chanin. Alabama Stitch Book brings us a collection of projects and stories from her clothing and lifestyle company, Alabama Chanin, known for the cutting-edge twist it puts on tried-and-true sewing, quilting, and embroidery techniques, applied mostly by hand to recycled cotton jersey.

Already, I love this book, I work mostly with wool, but Alabama Stitch Book focuses on recycled cotton jersey (T-shirts), the whole cotton thing in the south and all........

I have boxes of cut up wool sweaters, I must not start collecting t-shirts, too... I must not.... I must not.... Oh well, I will think about that tomorrow...........What time does Bargains Galore open today?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

gray, grey, whatever

The spelling of the word depends mostly on which side of the pond you are from, I guess... Either gray or grey,,, that's the subject of this post. About a year ago, I started to entertain the idea of letting my hair go gray.. Simple reasons, really. The cost of monthly dye jobs,, the time commitment, and curiosity. I wear my hair short,, and I am very short of stature,,,so most people have a good view of the top of my head. Graying roots are so obvious,,,so dying my hair monthly was necessary.

The money wasn't so bad, but as I get older I find other forms of maintenance on my body are also required, and can also cost bucks. I now put the hair color money towards pool membership....Oh, that's another thing, undyed, short hair does not necessitate wearing a swim cap...I hate swim caps!

Curiosity, that's another reason to grow out my gray,,, how much gray hair do I really have? What is my natural color? I have been dying my hair for over twenty years. It been -----------almost blond, red, light, dark and medium brown, streaked, highlighted, tipped, low lighted, and whatever else there is to do..----------

So, I worked with my hairdresser to gradually go to my natural color. It took about 8 months to get here, but I am now officially dye- free! Actually I have been without dye since October, but I am just now deciding how I really feel about it.

Great! , that's how I feel about it. My hair is dark brown with some gray throughout. Some gray means a moderate amount, not salt and pepper gray, but close. I do have a gray streak in my bangs above my right eye, I like that. And it's not just the actual color issue........The thing is, it feels just right for me at this point in my life. Simple, straightforward, over 50 and proud of it. I have earned this gray hair, I'm happy to show it. Aging gracefully, I hope.

The general reaction has been positive, people who haven't seen me during the process usually say they like it, unprompted. My husband is undecided, my children like it, I think. I think most people don't really care what color my hair is.
Now, go back and look at the sampler on the wall behind me. It's a bit of embroidery I created in 1974, and the years have not been kind to it. A long- gone puppy chewed off the edges, but the date is still there.

Kinda ironic that I chose to photograph my now gray hair while standing in front of the work of my youth....... I was 17 in 1974.........

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Popular Demand

By popular demand (Just Flouride), here are some photos of el nino

Having a bath

Fluffy hair

Already playing

More Footwear

It's January in Wisconsin. Time to keep those extremities warm!
I made some more slippers from some thick felted wool. They were crocheted together with perle cotton.

I used cheerful colors for the dead of winter............

Here is the finished bag, from this post, complete with snap closure, who says I don't finish any projects?

mother-of-pearl embellishment

Aren't these slippers cute?

They were knit and felted by a customer, they look so toasty.

It's already below zero.....time to find your slippers?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nice Plan,,,,,,,,,,but

So, I had this idea to make a purse/bag from a felted wool blanket,,, do some crocheting..... and the felt it again, thinking that the part that was made from the blanket would not shrink anymore,,,, but the crocheted part would shrink, and create an interesting texture for the gusset. Then I would overdye it,,,,and the dye would "take" differently on the parts of the bag that were different fibers,,,,,,,,,,Follow me? So, I cut the bag parts from the preshrunk blanket.

I intentionally place the plaid design on the diagonal.

Crocheting around the flap and the gusset

Still has no handle.

Handle is applied, and I did some chain stitching for surface design...... I kinda like the color, so I rethink the overdying idea while the bag is in the felting process


After felting, I see that it has not worked as I planned,,,, the whole bag shrunk...including the part made from the preshrunk blanket. And there is no interesting texture in the crochet part, AND I hate the securely felted in chain stitching.Into the dye pot with the dang thing! It can't get any worse,,


I was wrong. The dye job makes the bag look very fuzzy, and there are spots where the dye did not reach,,,,,,,,, UGH.................I always tell my customers that felting is unpredictable.....I should take my own advise, I guess.

So, I just ignore the project for a few days, hoping it might go away,,,,or something. Maybe the cats will use it for a bed..

I looked at it again this morning,, decided to dye it again,,,, to try to salvage it,,............................turned the bag inside out to prepare for the dying process and VOILA! There it was! The inside of the bag was an appealing color,,, not quite as fuzzy (I did shave it a bit)
The crochet texture shows, and the backside of the chain stitching is much more subtle......... and I LIKE IT! It was there all along, just waiting for me to discover it.

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sheep, silliness and big words

Anthropomorphism, I do it all the time.
With my cats, my car, my spinning children,,,,,,oh,, no wait, they ARE human........most of the time, anyway.

Today I am anthropomorphising (thank heavens for spell check) a pair of sheep. If you don't know what the word means, I advise you to look it up.....and get your mind out of the gutter...
Some friends of mine made these sheep. They were delivered in a velvet box with a gold ribbon. The sheep, I mean. Aren't they cool? Both the sheep and my friends. The girl sheep's name is Cheryl.

Check out the horns on Jim. That's the boy sheep's name, Jim.

Did you guess that the humans that made these sheep are named Jim and Cheryl? I am just so clever today!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ideas, Inspiration and Footwear

I get these ideas,,, I have no idea how or when it starts......but suddenly, or slowly over time, I am running into inspiration... the ideas pile up and pile up until I just have to get it out of my system,,,for example...........
My sister moved here from Japan last year. As soon as it got cold enough, she appeared in these fantastic boots. They are leather and knit fabric, and are like nothing I have seen before. Sin or not, I covet those boots. Of course, she purchased them in Japan. Nothing like that fabulous footwear is available in rural Wisconsin. Another thing,,,,,I am not sure I could carry off the look,

Then my friend Jennifer showed up at my shop with knee high boots made from elk skin, and fur and beading, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw those boots! I am SURE I could not carry off that look,,,,,, Jennifer looks like a Native Ameican princess wearing those lovely boots, I would look like an old, fat squaw. (not exactly PC, I know) Still, the ideas......
See how the universe is putting footwear in my mind?
So, I finally decide to make myself some slippers/boots/footwear to satisfy my urge to create,,,, and make something I would actually wear.
I drew a boot shape free hand on some wool fabric to make a pattern.
Sewn up, I could see the instep/ toe was too full, but otherwise a decent fit.

I just happen to have some leather slipper soles that I got at Loose Ends Yarn Shop.
I decide that the some seams should be on the outside, some on the inside, for comfort.

A felted wool blanket, nice and cushy.

I draw on the basic shape....

Cut soles, too.

I decide I do not need a back seam. After machine sewing, I sew a small dart partway up the back of the leg for shaping.

Using perle cotton, I hand stitched the leather soles over the wool soles. I tried them on.

Not a bad fit, so the cats and I take a nap.

Refreshed from my nap,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,using handspun yarn, I crochet an edging around the slipper.
I crochet the yarn as a single, right off the spinning wheel.

This is the part I enjoy, freeform crochet.
I add some buttons, and Voila!

My urge to make footwear has been satisfied!