Tuesday, March 26, 2013


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