Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dear Blogger, Will you let me post pictures and label them today?

Dear Blogger,
    In haven't written a blog post in nearly forever, and You are the reason. When last I tried, and tried and tried, you would not let me post pictures -or- would not let me label them -or- would not let me write text, and I really wanted to do all three things.
   I am boldly trying again.

Here is Strawberry Girl.  From the fabric I'm guessing the original doll was made in the 1940's.  Apart from the nestlings/fingerlings she's the smallest doll I've embroidered so far.  Cheerfully odd facial expression and wee velvet boots.  I made her for my friend Yuko Okumura, who has a great passion for strawberries, the actual fruit and nearly anything made of or with or in the shape of strawberries.  

This is the current doll in progress. I'm stitching her embellishments in shades of gold and light brown to coordinate with the irremovable splotch on her face which seems to be ancient nail polish.  We all collect a few battle scars as we go through life, and it is no different for the doll folk.   Some little darling most likely felt Very Sorry about getting mum's nail polish on dolly's face. I wonder if she spent time in a corner thinking over what she'd done?  At any rate this little one is no less sweet for having had some adventures in her life.


Well now, that seemed to go nicely, but I don't know how to get back to regular sized text. Sigh.  I'm much more artistic than technological I'm afraid.  I shall proceed in caption sized text as I've sworn not to give up easily!

I have missed having a blissful life of mostly stitching, studying and blogging.  In April I went from working part time (which was lovely) to working a full 40 hours a week.  This brings me more money, and medical benefits, but gosh! It hogs up five days of my life Every Week. Since I haven't been going-to-a doctor sick in a dozen years the idea that I'm getting medical benefits by working full time loses a lot of the thrill it's meant to have.  I think I'd prefer to have that other 16 hours a week back, but the company doesn't allow people to un-promote themselves.

  Since my job doesn't require much use of my brain I spend my mental energy on the job thinking about other things.  Mostly contemplating my amazing kids and planning out my future projects.
   I'm frankly looking forward very much to retirement, when I can once again spend my hours on things I care about rather than just, as my daddy used to say, "Chasing the Almighty Dollar".
Not that I don't like dollars, I do like them a whole lot, they're useful for all sorts of good things.
Anyway, sufficient unto this day is the whining thereof.  I've got a cozy loft to stitch in, lots of dollies to embroider, socks to knit, pets to pet, and half of a day off left in which to do all of the aforementioned. With these I shall be content.




 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When She's Not Scrubbing or A Very Slight Aquaintance With Permaculture in which Straw is Spun into Gold. Sort of.




Now that Rapunzel has joined the ranks of the blue collar workers you can well imagine the fascinating details of her custodial life. Or janitorial life if you prefer. BUT, you may be asking yourselves, what does she do these days when she's not off to town a-scrubbing? Obviously she's been sadly neglecting her blog, so what is her excuse for her absence of late?

Rapunzel has been tres busy recycling.

In Ye Olde College Dormitories there are all the mod cons an 18 year old student could desire. Running water, heat, cooling, a cafeteria, private kitchens, computer labs, lounges with televisions, bathrooms to accomodate a crowd, and a laundry room. It is this last item that concerns us today.

In the laundry room students wash their clothes in automatic washers. Eventually they  return and put the clothes in the automatic dryers. Within a day or so they will remember to come back one more time to find their clean and dry clothes, which have by now have been flung out of the dryer in a heap by some other student.

 Each laundry room has a Lost Box, where newly single socks and other oddments collect. Not just honestly lost items collect here, it is also the place where students toss things they don't want, and don't want to bother to dispose of properly: gum wrappers, hair elastics, capless flash drives, dryer lint, fabric softener sheets, caps from flash drives, soggy pencils. And T-shirts. Specifically T-shirts from events, that have graphics printed on the front, and often also on the back.  After the wonderousness of a special event has passed it is often found that the event shirt is in fact pug ugly and the fashionable and discerning student would not be caught dead wearing the shirt a second time. So these franky dreadful shirts are tossed away. As if there is someplace called AWAY where things actually go.

    It falls to the dorm custodians to periodically deal with the things students fail to come back and retrieve.  Nasty things go into the proper trash can ,which being on the opposite side of the 10 foot wide laundry room and right near the exit door is apparently too far to walk for 18 year olds.  Cute things go to co-workers with children young enough to admire teenage fashions.  Cast off boxer shorts go straight in the trash can because boys are undesputeably gross. And then there are the ugly event shirts, which No One Really Wants. Having only been worn once or twice they seem too "good" to throw away, ("good" here is a subjective term) and the best of them are made of sturdy thick cotton knit which lasts and is comfortable.

   And so it happens that a fat stack of unflattering t-shirts accumulated on my closet shelf this winter. Most of them in shades of green and gold, two colors which do not flatter my complexion in the slightest. I had thought that they would be useful to wear while mucking out the henhouse, and doing other dirty, messy, smelly or likely-to-snag type farm work, thus saving wear and tear on my dresses. The reality is they were too ugly in their original state to be worn even at home alone in a secluded valley where I'm only seen by colorblind people with four legs.

   On contemplating my wealth of ugly t-shirts several thoughts tumbled about in my cogs.
 One is that when designing a quilt if your design just doesn't look good the best solution is generally to Add More Color. You cannot have too many colors in a quilt.
  The second thought is that the first principle of Permaculture is Whenever Possible Use What You Have On Hand to accomplish what needs to be done.  My handmade long sleeved dresses are awfully hot to wear in summer, and  something looser and more airy would be sooo nice. What I had on hand was a heap of ugliness. Coincidence? I think not!
   Then I recalled the colorful hand printed African political fabrics we have in the back rooms one of the museums  here on campus, and the cheery colors of folk clothing in general.
   
    


   It quickly occurred to me that the best possible thing to do with ten ugly green and gold shirts would be to chop them into large chunks, sew them back together, thereby making two play dresses of them. And so I did. Sew.

   Two of the shirts  (one for each dress) I simply laid out and cut straight across a few inches below the arms, to create what would be the slightly high waisted bodice, although bodice seems a fancy term for this particular project. I also whacked off the sleeves, thinking with my rather pudgy arms  magnificent biceps it would be nice to have roomier sleeves.

   The remaining shirts I cut into panels like this, each shirt making two panels, front and back:






I used one of the cut off sleeves as a pattern and added a bit to the width and length, then cut two pair of sleeves from panels of shirts. In my case two of my shirts had large blank areas, and I wanted graphics on the skirts, so I cut my new sleeves from blank parts, taking advantage of the t-shirt hem as the lower edge of the sleeves to save having to hem them.  I fitted the new sleeves to my bodice shirts pleating them a bit to fit the arm scye. Which is probably one word, armscye. (It seems to be one of those words that look funny either way and I'm not looking it up, I am busy. I have a life to do!)

I then played around with the remaining panels, and settled on five panels for each skirt as a good width for moving around in. I tried out the panels in various positions putting my favorites in the front. When I'd found an attractive arrangement (the term attractive being used very loosely here) I pinned them up matching the already finished hems, trimmed the top edges to even them up and sewed them all together.
Then I took some of the whacked off sleeves and again using the original hems to advantage  and measuring with my outspread hand I cut generous pockets for both dresses. These I sewed into place on the skirts. 

 Lastly I pleated the skirts onto the bodices and presto chango*, Bob's your uncle**: Two astoundingly beautiful dresses, had for no cash outlay at all and made with precious little time for the amount of good clean fun that was had by all (me).
 






Psssst:   Do not tell the Christ's Temple Apostolic Assembly, but I seem to have put one of their Youth Rally shirts next to a large green witch. I suspect they mightn't approve, but perhaps it will do her some good.


So there you go---that is where I have been during some of the time that I wasn't here. (How is it that a blog seems like a place?) 

 The Manimal claims there is so much green in these dresses that when I'm out in the forest he can't find me.  Perhaps I should look for some pugly t-shirts in hunter orange?

Aside from my highly unfashionable upcycling project (and I will not argue if any of you prefer to call it downcycling) I've also spent a good deal of time mending the fences around the gardens, as spring planting time is here and we're trying to feed ourselves more than the local wildlife, or the domesticated hens for that matter. 

      One of the joys of fence mending is that one gets to be out in the sunshine all the day, breathing fresh spring air (aaaachooo!) and watching cock fights.  As a paid profession cock fighting and the gambling attached to cock fighting are illegal in Indiana, and for good reason.  Whitney and Lonesome George are not professionals, however. 
 I filmed a bit of their antics to show you just how unprofessional they are.  In the course of a single day George, the young upstart, beat the bloody L out of Whitney and left him for dead Three Times. But Good Old Whitney, official cock of the walk, is not one to give up so easily.  Fully recovered from the fray, he is currently abiding in the henhouse with all the pretty ladies while Lonesome George  the troublemaker is stuck on the other side of the fence muttering to himself and making do with Schmutzy the free-ranging white rabbit for company.


video


There's lots more film of the battle.....including the final highly dramatic scene I think of as the car chase, but alas I cannot get it to load on blogger. I may make a Facebook album of it to save it for posterity.  Roosters are punks, that's all there is to it. Roosters only understand three things, food, sex and violence. That is apparently all there is room for in a Very Small Brain, and indeed it is enough to keep their species going. We larger brained beings do have rules here though, to protect our own species.  If George the Troublemaker begins attacking people he will become George the Soup.

I shall close with an inspiring quotation from the wall of a temple built in Fatehpur Sikri India by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. .

Isa* Son of Mary said: "The world is a bridge. Pass over it, but build no houses upon it."

Perhaps this is the philosophy of roosters. They're here for the journey, the adventure, the experience. They don't concern themselves with trying to make it last.


*********************




*presto chango seems to have the ring of truth here, as I did chango the cast off shirts to dresses, which if not exactly magic is a form of alchemy, is it not?.
**As for Bob's your uncle, I took a bit of literary license here. Bob's not my uncle, he's actually my cousin by marriage..  But he's old enough to be my uncle. I had rather a wee schoolgirl crush on him half a century ago, he was handsome, kindhearted, and a great storyteller, which is really all a six year old wants in a man.

*Isa.  If you're not Persian you may know him as Jesus. Frequently quoted, also no doubt mis-quoted, and sometimes mis-identified as Anon.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stitching...stitching....stitching.....

Do any of these wee creatures look familiar?



How about if I position them like this?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shmata and Boro

  Here's a blog post that maybe didn't get posted back when I wrote it.   I'm going to hit "Publish" and see what happens. I am so un-tech. Sigh...


   Greetings one and all. It occurs to me, as I examine the above photo taken a few minutes ago that without my lovely layers of clothing I only look half as big. But I like my clothes and am unlikely to join the ranks of spandex wearers just to appear slimmer.      This particular pinny is from 'Ember (*waves-Hi Ember!-*) who is apparently rather taller than I, so it was necessary to shorten it. (This is the story of my entire short-legged life.) For several months I have toyed with the idea of dying it purple, to make it a little more smut-hiding, but haven't decided whether or not to go ahead with it, as it is so charming just as it is. I try not to do messy things in it. Most likely I will dye it after I spill something dreadful on it. Until then I can enjoy its sweetness.

  I was thinking the other day that Shmata-Boro is an odd blog name and perhaps I might explain it.

 Shmata is Yiddish for rags.  Boro is Japanese for rags.  Back before I met the Manimal and moved to the middle of the forest I had joined a synagogue and was studying for conversion to Judaism and studying Yiddish at university. I also was doing some freelance work for an artist doing sewing on indigo dyed Japanese style doorway hangings. (Rowland Ricketts and his wife Chinami, Google them, their work is amazing.)  Consequently my head was full of Yiddish and Japanese terms and as my home life and artistic life is pretty much rag oriented I called the blog Shmata Boro.

    My dear Manimal is hard on clothes. That is what is known as an understatement. When we first became "an item" I took it upon myself to mend his tatty jeans. I quickly found we were kindred spirits in this way: we neither one believe a patch shouldn't look like it's there.  So I patched his jeans in an unhidden way.  This kept them out of the rag bag and in active circulation, so they got more and more worn places which each got patched in their turn.



 Over a few months they became less like jeans and more like a little walking art gallery.
 Which is enormous fun for me, but unlikely to make me a fortune as an artist.
 Happily money and I have a comfortable relationship, It arrives when I need it and I am usually not too freaked out if I don't have any. So becoming a rich and famous artist is not my top priority. I think I have one of those art-for-art's sake mentalities. Or perhaps I am just a gifted slacker.

When the Manimal's favorite shirt began to come apart I was called in with my scrap basket to make a rescue attempt.  As I wasn't keen on this particular shirt I didn't bother looking for matching scraps to mend with, which would have been impossible. I patched it with scraps from doll clothes making. I "knew" it was no longer worthy of public display and he'd only be wearing it here in the valley to chop wood and garden in.  Boy oh boy was I ever wrong about that. He quite happily wears it to work.
Also this one, which has bits of cottons from a good forty years of sewing projects:




Now here is a puzzlement. 
 I have been wearing my plain dresses ever since I made them in the summer of 2007.   So far not one of them has needed a single patch. They are less bright in color than they were nearly six years ago, but they have not worn out.  Why is this?  The dresses are made of plaid homespun from India. Good stuff, but not something fancy or expensive. I did not expect them to last this long. 
The Manimal's jeans are denim, which is supposedly very strong, right? The light blue shirt is a denim-like twill, also seemingly very sturdy cloth. All I can think of is the difference in care.
 When I came out to the valley I brought a bag of clothespins a reel of good sturdy clothesline,and began tying clotheslines to the trees and porch posts.  Until then the Manimal's laundry was all tossed in the washer with commercial detergent, then tossed into the dryer. He still does it this way if I'm not around.  It's quick and efficient. 
        I've always washed my dresses with homemade soap and hung my them up to dry. I've even put lines up in the loft to hang my clothes in bad weather, and I've got sturdy wooden clothes racks that  can sit nicely in front of the woodstove for quicker drying.
Are modern detergents and clothes dryers really THAT BAD for clothes? It certainly looks like it.


Lest you think I spend all my time mending, awhile back I made some petticoats, with tucks in the bottom to make my skirts stand out a bit more. Not stand out for "fashion", but rather stand out enough to keep my skirts from wrapping around my legs.

 It was a thrifty project, as I made both from a sheet that was here at the house. The Manimal has no rememberance of where the sheet originated, but it had some paint on it and seemed like something no one would miss so I repurposed it. The paint doesn't bother me or the Manimal, and no one else is likely to be seeing me in my petticoat.


I've done a bit of what I call Extreme Mending the last few weeks. The first full sized quilt I ever made was on its last legs, so the scrap basket was call upon for help.

The blue flowers, upper left corner, are from Grandma Pat's bed comforter. Bright turquoise left center from a smock I made in high school (which caused highly dubous rumors I might be preggers, haha.) Pink and white stripe, doll clothes Grandma made in the 50's. Blue and pink stripes at bottom, grandpa shirt and also some of it became Middle Child's quilt binding.


 Pink plaid, center, another of Grandma Pat's comforters. Black plaids from a skirt I shortened. Beige and goldish odd print with squares in it was from Grandma's square dancing skirt which she wore when I was four years old, and which I adopted and frequently wore in high school. Yes, I wore a mid-calf length very full gathered square dancing skirt whilst my trendy classmates were wearing mini skirts and hot pants. Never have given a flying fig what anyone else thinks of what I wear. Had a wonderful grey cashmere full length coat from the 40's too.

Stitching is my passion, or as close to a passion as I've got (I'm a fairly calm person.) Pehaps amusement is a better word.  Occasionally I even sew something that isn't tattered and isn't from old scraps.



 That Blog header up above of the markers,crayons and drawn fabrics is a bit of my craftsy amusement. I am guilty of being a life-long poppet maker. I began in first grade, drawing paper dollies for my classmates, complete with clothes and wee paper sleepingbags to slide them into.  I've been making and/or dressing dolls of one sort or another ever since. Here's a small rag doll I've drawn and stitched up this week.
She came together nicely I think.


Here she's getting some straps for her pinny.

And of course she must have pockets, a pinny is useless without pockets.

Voila! La Belle du Crayone et Boro.

She is much appreciated by our old freind Tatty Quilt Bear, who gets far too little attention.

Bunny and Little Head are glad of a new friend too. Bunny was drawn and stitched like La Belle. Little Head began his current life as a little china head we dug up in the garden in Vincennes. Or was it Loogootee?
 As we never found any more of him it was necessary to make him a new body from Grandpa Dick's old work shirt. He's quite posh now, and a bit smug. He feels it necessary to frequently point out to the others that he "has a history" (although he doesn't quite remember what that history might be.)
Next on our horizon: Some sort of Bear-Fox-Raccoon hybrid.

And quite possibly an end of season snowman, if I can get the carrot part to come out right.


Well there you have it, an explanation of the odd blog name and more scraps than you thought you'd see in one day.  <3



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Contemplation of Stillness (which we have a lot of here lartely).


This is not today.  This is last week, and it got saved as a draft rather than published. I figured this out when I hit publish on the post about Indiana Weather that I wrote today. So this is last week, and today will come next. (See below)







Indiana Weather.

       As far back as I can remember people have said of Indiana weather : If you don't like the weather here wait a few minutes. It will change.

    Typically Indiana winters involve a rotation of snowy days with blinding sunshine, ice storms, blizzards with knee deep snow so that schools and businesses are forced to close and roads are impassible, balmy overcast days where coats are not needed and occasional summery days where the temperatures climb well into the 70's and we all bring out our summer shorts and tank tops.

    Last week this was the view out the bathroom window:

Pretty little deer looking for something to nibble.

Two days ago the snow and ice were gone and the livestock came out to browse on the lawn.

   Last night we had a roaring thunderstorm. Well after midnight the tornado sirens began to sound. I got an emergency text message from Indiana University (my workplace) saying  there was indeed a tornado, and that we should all go immediately to the lowest floor of our building away from windows to wait it out.
     As I was at home, twelve miles from town, I waited it out in bed in the loft with two dogs and a cat (all blissfully asleep) my hand sewing, and a documentary on Netflix. In other words I kept doing exactly what I was doing before the storm. I was not brought up to be particularly fearful of storms. The family opinion where "dangerous"weather is concerned has always been: Usually the weather does not kill you, and if perchance it does, well, today is a good day to die. We were going to sooner or later anyway.

   It has often puzzled me that so many people who claim to just adore God and really long for their home in heaven will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid dying.  Perhaps it is the same line of thinking that causes me to want to be slim even as I am sitting here munching a bit of  New Orleans King Cake. (Thank You Youngest Child, it is absolutely delish!)

   This morning after a few hours of rain our creek, usually low in winter, was positively roaring.  Lilly went out for a romp and I thought I'd share her pleasure with you all.  It was perfect timing as I'd just washed the bedding yesterday so there was a fresh clean bedspread to lie on when she came inside.




******Rats!  Rats,rats,rats!!!   I've tried five times to download the film of Lilly and the creek and it won't.  Even though I've done this lots of times before.
     If you wish to see it, hop on over to my Facebook page where it downloaded easy peasy in less time than it takes to tell about it.

    Me and modern technology. Oy.