Monday, October 26, 2015

On my to do list: Cleaning

I have been weaving this week.  I wanted to get a couple of tapestries off my loom in hopes of submitting them for a show, but I am unhappy with the way they look right now.  I am not sure if I will submit them at this point.  In the meantime, I guess I need to clean my studio.

Who can be creative in this mess?  This is mess left from sewing my coats and vests for the studio tour in August.  

After the brilliant, blue summer we have had, it is back to the northwest weather.  Although, it has been so dry this summer, I am sure the plants are very happy to have some rain.  Good day for cleaning!  Here is today's "view" of Seattle.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A break from sewing

I have been taking a break from sewing.  I worked really hard to finish several pieces for the studio tour on Bainbridge Island, but then the end of the summer came.  I had been ignoring my children a bit, so we did some things together and then got them ready to go back to school.

School has been in session a bit over a month now, and I still haven't cleaned out my studio, but soon...maybe.  In the meantime, I have been weaving a bit to give myself a break from sewing.  If you are interested, you can see what I have been weaving.

I finished another vest a couple of weeks ago.  The floral material for this vest came through a gift.  The fabric is a wool cotton blend, and was part of a Laura Ashley dress from the 80's.  The original color was beige, so I dyed it a cobalt blue.  I thought the color came out beautiful, and really updated the fabric.  I then selected a denim colored cotton to complement it.

You can see in the photo above, I embroidered the plain fabric on the sides with a flower to mimic the flower in the print.  

Because several people at the studio tour asked about reversibility of my vests, I decided to make this one reversible.  The fabric inside is a textured fabric.  I thought the vest came out beautifully.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Also, just wanted to say thank you to Heather for including my comments on CraftLit and putting a link on her blog to this one.  If you have not listened to Craftlit, you should head on over and check out her podcasts.  I love listening to the books she selects, always classics, many I somehow never got around to reading.  I especially enjoyed Dickens' Bleak House, not so bleak, and with wonderful characters.  I really miss listening to that one.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Best Summer Cake EVER!

I love to bake, but my pies and scones are my specialty.  My cookies used to be good until we moved to Seattle.  Not sure why, but every cookie I have made here has been sawdust.

However, I just made the best cake EVER, in my life.  We had a bunch of plums from my CSA at the farmer's market.  They were a bit overripe for eating, but I couldn't throw them out and wasn't up for making jam.  I searched and found:

Plum Tatin!

This bit of heaven has a tender vanilla cake covered by sweet/tart plums.  I used Ina Garten's recipe with a couple of minor changes.  I used my 9 inch cast iron skillet.  Made the sugar and water syrup in that, then placed the plums in the skillet, covered it with the cake batter and baked.

It came easily out of the pan onto the plate.  Can't eat it all right away?  No worries, just wrap it up and put it in the refrigerator.   Cut a slice, microwave for 13-15 seconds and eat.  Still amazingly delicious after two days, especially with french roast coffee.  Now that I am all sugared up, I have to get sewing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sewing My Heart Out ?

The Bainbridge Island Studio Tour is coming up quickly:  August 7, 8, and 9th.  I have been pretty well chained to my dark studio under an ott light sewing my coats.  At first my goal was to have 20 coats for sale, then my number revised down to 15 as family circumstances had me elsewhere for a few days.  (Here is a view from the ferry as I make my way to the airport.  This is rush hour on Thursday evening at Eliot Bay.  And on this ferry trip I got to see 3 orcas and two dolphins, no kidding!  It was amazing.  My husband was flabbergasted.  I rarely take the ferry, he commutes to and from work on it every day, and he still can't believe that I got to see orcas before him.  Must have been a sign of good things to come!)

Then camps started, and I started driving hither and yon.  Fourth of July arrived and we spent the day watching the parade and hanging out (Cute parade with the hit of the parade being Tiny the Lamb, she even has her own Facebook page.)  Then drove down to the harbor to watch the fireworks.  The harbor was filled with sailboats.  It was twice the fun (pun intended) as the lights were reflected in the Sound.

Then we had guests for the weekend. They were our first since moving here in December, and it was great to have them and a real motivator to get those last few boxes unpacked and get the guest room set up.  Now we are ready for more visitors!)  

Now my goal is to have 12 coats/vests with at least two of each size (XS, S, M, L).

Each coat or vest is made of some recycled piece of clothing be it a pair of pants, wool slacks or a men's coat.

I then make up the rest in new fabric that complements the old, and then each piece is lined with beautiful new fabric.  Each coat or vest has something unique be it ribbons (my favorites are from LFN (Laura Foster Nicholson, and if you haven't found her yet, click now and don't wait!), but sometimes something a little plainer works), wool appliqué pieced from leftovers from another coat, or embroidery.

Hopefully, people will be so intrigued that they will order their own coat using unused items out of their closet they can't bear to part with?  You know those items, like the first tailored blazer that I made in my twenties with awesome Italian wool, and lovely Japanese fabric lining, but sewn in with gold thread (really?  Yes, what was I thinking?)  It has sat in my closet for years but I just can't part with it, but I will NEVER wear it again.

I have been so busy sewing that I have not updated the blog in ages.  Just wanted to take a quick moment to update.  I having been listening to old podcasts about crafting and one woman talked of her documentation of her process of making yarn from sheared wool on Instagram.  So, I am trying to document the process of making some of my coats and vests.  Take a look at Instagram and see the men's wool cashmere coat being cut apart and remade.

If you are near Seattle, come to the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour and look for With Needle and Stick!

Friday, May 29, 2015

An Early Morning

I heard this weird thrumming sound, hrmmmm, hrmmmm, hrmmmm, but very deep.  It woke me up; I looked at my phone, 3:45.   What was that sound?  I walked around the house, then out on the deck.  It was some medium-sized cargo ship thrumming its way up Puget Sound.  The thing definitely sounded like it was out of whack.

Out comes the kindle with its little glow light.  Check cellphone, 4:25.  The birds are chirping; light is creeping around the blinds.  Off goes my kindle, I lay down trying to go back to sleep.  I check my cell phone again, 4:55.  Oh what the heck, it is just too light to go back to sleep now.

I finally get up, turn on the computer, put some tea in the microwave, sorry, I was too lazy to brew a pot of loose tea, look out the window to see two cruise ships heading back from Alaska.  I bake a batch of scones for breakfast.

Sunrise is now officially 5:18, but let me tell you, it is light waaaayyyyy before 5:18.  The photo above was taken at 5:15.  The birds were singing at 4:25.  The light is very different up here from Virginia, I am naively thinking of Sweden.  Nope, not even close, we are on the same latitude as northern France, Bern Switzerland.  

Today, we have the sun sparkling over the Puget Sound, no marine layer this morning.

I have cut out six coats.  Now it is time to get pinning and sewing.  I foresee the need of coffee this afternoon.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Studio Tour

Yeah!! My vests and coats were juried into the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour for August 7-9.  I am very excited, but now I have to get to work making vests and coats.  As much as possible I try and use recycled fabric.  I have stacks of men's pants and coats and have been cutting them up for use in my princess cut pieces.  I spent a couple of days grading patterns and making muslins.  I have to get a friend to try on a couple of the muslins and make some adjustments.  In the meantime, I have been cutting out those that I know the sizing works.

I now have a pile of vests to sew together.  I am trying to cut two more out, then I will have 6 vests to begin sewing.

Here on Bainbridge Island, so far the weather is so very changeable.  I awoke just after 5 AM and saw the wall in the hallway was awash with bright orange light of a sunrise.  The dark days of winter have been replaced with a sun that appears at 4:40 AM and sets near 9PM now, although it is light around 4AM and stays light until well after 9 PM.  I have been told in the summer it will stay light until 10 PM.  I now have to put the shades down in our room if I have any hope of sleeping past 5 AM. When I got up at 7 to get the kids ready for school, this is the view that greeted me.  The sun was gone to be replaced by a thick marine layer.

The interior of the island was bright and sunny this morning, and it was VERY warm in the sun.  It is funny here how it can be 65 degrees air temperature, but in the sun it feels very HOT.  I am not sure why but the sun is so intense here, so much more so than in Virginia.  

Here is the midday view.  You can just see the tops of the hills in the suburbs of Seattle across the fog-filled Puget Sound.  I never get tired of looking out the window.  

Now, I have to warm up my tea and get back to cutting out my coats and vests!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Busy Making

I have been really busy sewing these past few weeks.  I wanted to apply for the local studio tour here in Bainbridge Island, but I had to make a few more pieces to show.  I took my pieces to be juried and I am awaiting the results.  I am honing in on a design that I like and can modify pretty easily to make it look very different.  It is based on princess lines, which I think look good on just about everyone.

The first piece I sewed together was using a cotton/linen blend that I had that for some strange reason I bought in yellow.  I held the yellow fabric up to myself and my daughter said, "Yuk Mom!  That looks awful."  So much for that fabric.  So a couple of years later I had my friend Rachel throw it into an indigo dye pot.  I wasn't so sure about the color at first, but then it grew on me.  It is an interesting mottled green with tints of yellow and blue.

I sewed a mid-thigh length vest and then appliquéd silk circles on it and added some hand stitching.  I love the resuI lined it with some beautiful quilting cotton with dragonflies printed on it that really complemented the hand-dyed linen.  I think it would look great with leggings for a light summer coverup.  I love the result, and I hope you like it, too.  

The second piece I cut out and sewed together was a fitted vest made from old suits.  This little fitted vest has a flared out hem and is hip length.  The grey wool is very soft.  It is a very fitted and looks great with a white cotton shirt and jeans.  A feminine take on the men's vest that I call a Revest.

I sewed on some beautiful ribbon from Laura Foster Nicholson.

I also lined this vest with some great cotton fabric that complements the grey flannel.  I really love my clothes lined.  They just feel better.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring is Here

Spring is here in the Pacific North West.  The sun has been shining for days, and the weather has been warm with few clouds in sight.  I guess the downside of all this sunny warm weather has been that there is little snowpack, which could lead to fewer salmon this year and droughts for some later in the summer.  Everyone keeps telling us that this is not a normal winter and not to get used to this, but I must say, I am enjoying this lovely warm sunny weather.  I guess this is a way of easing ourselves into the PNW.

This is the view from our living room.

Here is a look at my sad spinone begging to come in while staring at me from the deck, while I was in bed with the flu.  I am happy to report that I have finally recovered from the flu.  (This is what winter and spring in the PNW is supposed to look like. )

I haven't posted because we then engaged some painters to come and paint the interior of the house.  The rooms were all painted colors from the PNW landscape, however my paintings and tapestries were not well suited to the wall colors.  Instead we went back to painting the whole house white like our Virginia house, a very Swedish look with all of our wood trim.  At the moment it looks a little stark, but I am sure when all our art is on the wall, things will look much different.

 In the meantime, I am contemplating my 2015 Fall Fiber Festival Design for Black Twig Farm.  It will be an intarsia project.  Here are the colors for the sweater, of course you can choose your own family of colors, but I decided to go with the maroon, reds, pinks and oranges this year.  I will post more as the design progresses.  Beautiful colors aren't they?  These are dyed from madder and cochineal.  Want some yarn?  See Rachel's site, Black Twig Farm...

 As I last posted, I am working on this sweater for Rachel's son.

I am finished with the body, now I need to start on the sleeves.  I hope to be done in the next couple of weeks.  It is nice to be doing something creative other than unpacking boxes and finding places for things.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Flu and time to knit

I have been busy for a couple of months either packing, unpacking, or cleaning. I am still far from done unpacking and straightening up the house. Then the flu took me on friday. I was in bed or on the sofa for four days. Now the kids are on midwinter break so they have no patience for unpacking.   So unpacking is on delay....

The good thing about the flu was the time it gave me to knit. I now get to knit one of my own designs for Black Twig Farm with their lovely yarn. 

Here is the kit for Rugby Sweater. 

I will post more photos as it progresses.

In the meantime my children have been missing good bagels. So this week while the kids are home we are on a mission to make good bagels. The grocery store ones are pretty awful. The first ones I made had potential as ninja throwing stars according to my son and husband. Needless to say those got thrown away. 

Here are today's attempt.  Much better. Will see how the family likes them and report back. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Creating a Home

Our daughter was less than thrilled with the move.  When we first told our children of our impending move to Seattle, my daughter was at first thrilled.  We were going to the cute little island with the great croissants and the ferry ride.  It was all exciting until the realization came that it was a move not a long visit.

A month and a half has passed since our move and our children are adjusting as are all the animals.  Our old dog Elsie will finally go outside without one of us with her.  She seems to think if she lets us out of her sight we will somehow pick up and move without her knowledge.  She even played with our younger dog out in the yard the other day, their usual game of tag.  Otherwise, she sits at the bottom of the driveway awaiting our return if we are out and about.

The children have adjusted to school and are making friends.

My son picked a room with the best views in the house.  He has a suite with bedroom and sitting room with sound views and painted a bright sunny yellow.  I would post photos, but you really can't tell what's going on for all the clothes on the floor.  I would like to say I was disciplined and made my kids keep their rooms clean, but I am not, and their rooms are a mess.

Linden selected the set of rooms with the forest view.  Luckily there was no fighting over the rooms, each had their own ideas of the ideal room.  My daughter has two connected dormer rooms with a secret cubby hole.  When we moved in they were painted what I consider an awful beige.  No offense Benjamin Moore, but I am not a fan of beige.  I kept thinking the room was a bit dark, and my daughter wanted to paint the room turquoise and we were worried it would make the room a bit darker, but my daughter and I were determined that it was the right choice.

Original color of the room.

Her pick:

What I then learned was that the LRV (light reflecting value) was 70.69 for the beige and 75.69 for the winter green.  Wow, the green is "brighter".  What a difference some paint makes.

Here are some before and after shots of her "new" room.

This is a photo of the closet that divides the room.

This is the "sitting" room space.

Here is the first coat of ceiling white on the beige ceiling.  You can see the contrast.

Here are the after shots.  I still have to paint the doors, so the first photo of the outside of her door is still beige, but I think the room interior looks great.

This is her room at dusk.  We just bought some Ikea cabinets in the corner, and need to buy three more to put across the back space for storage.  What a difference, no?

My daughter has a view of an enormous cedar tree outside her window with a bird feeder on the window, and a view out to the sound.

This is a view out from the bed side of the room toward the sitting room with her secret cubby hole in the right corner next to the little doll wardrobe.  The crazy dog paint by numbers were done by my dad in the fifties.  Fun aren't they?  They replaced all the puppy posters that were in her room before.  My daughter is growing up and ready for a more sophisticated look (okay, maybe you can't consider paint by numbers sophisticated, but compared to two dozen puppy posters, framed PBN's seem much more sophisticated to me!)

Here is a photo of the dresser.  You can see a framed poster of an 1800s Vogue cover that I painted in my twenties, and the fox painting that I painted for her two Christmases ago.  The cute cookie jar with the bears atop came from a craft show in Asheville, NC many years ago when I was not much older than Linden is now.

This is my grandmother's dish cabinet from the later 1800's that is filled with my daughter's treasures.  The paintings either side of the cabinet are her watercolor paintings that we framed.

A reading chair and all of her books.  A great nook for reading and getting away from her big bother brother.

A view from the reading chair back to her bedroom side.  The watercolor painting of the horses is one that I did when I was 12, not very good, but she loves it.  You can just barely see her little secret nook on the left of the photo.

She loves her new room, as do I.  It is now a bright cheery space for her.  Now if I can just get my bedroom painted!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Big Move

I have been away from this blog for a while.  I have a good excuse.  Our family has made a very big move.  We have left Virginia for the west coast and are now living on the beautiful island of Bainbridge, just a ferry ride away from Seattle.  My husband took a new job and we thought it would be a great adventure for us and the kids.  We live within sight of Seattle and enjoy the ever changing views of the city and the sound.

There is not much project work with fiber right now.  It is mostly unpacking boxes and now I am going to go upstairs to my daughter's room and start painting.  I promised her a new look for her room, a beautiful stark white ceiling and trim with light turquoise walls.  I can't wait to see it, but first I need to get started!  I hope to be back working in my studio soon, but it may take a while to unpack.

Here are just a few of the views over the last couple of weeks here.

Seattle is obscured by fog, but the sound is lit up by the sun.

Seattle basking in a glowing sunrise.

 Another sunny day when we could see all the way to the Cascades.  Did someone say you NEVER see the sun in the winter in Seattle?

My horse checking things out in his new home.