Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday fragments

IN which our plucky heroine gets a surprise package...

the mystery deepens... remember back in September when a mystery box showed up here at Acorn Cottage?? well... there was another one today... so I ride over to Copy Pilot this afternoon. I don't expect them to be able to give me any data about whoever sent this, but another weird thing turns up - the address label shows their FORMER address, where they were located five years ago! They were equally baffled at how this could have occurred. We decided there is some kind of wormhole into another time/space line...
Inside the box was a little japanese rice bowl; very mysterious, sweet, and charming; I am guessing it came from the same unidentified mystery person who sent me the little ceramic tumbler* in early September this year, as the decoration on the pottery is the same design. Either someone likes me and wants to amuse me, or someone is setting me up for a more dangerous unboxing... shall I be optimistic, or paranoid??? Also, I am amused that whoever packed this sent me both unripe (green) as well as fully ripe (pink) packing peanuts!

A few years ago I made an elaborate Alabama Chanin style knit top, which never got worn very often, since I dealt with my long standing difficulty in getting good non-flippy hemlines on knit tops by simply not hemming it. On some of my knit tops this works well and they lay flat, but this one the lower edge curled up into an uncomfortable and unsightly roll. I decided that in my general current impulse towards repair and refurbishment, to deal with this... and added a 2 1/2" wide band at the bottom edge, with the knit of that band facing the opposite direction, with the intent of having the curling tendencies balance each other out. It seems to have done the trick, indeed I wore the revised top all day today with nary a twist or roll.

After pulling out all the "still needs to be cut out and sewn" garments from Wednesdays list, I began wondering how/if they would fit into various types of SWAP configurations. My chosen colors (no surprise) are black, indigo, and brown, with accent colors of grey and turquoise. If, as I hope will be possible, my pinafores count as a "bottom" garment, it should be feasible for me to pull out enough pieces from the list of 18 hopefuls, to fit in the future rules:

Indigo: dark denim pinafore, turtleneck top
Brown: brushed twill pinafore and jacket, raincoat
Black: corduroy pinafore, linen blouse, raincape
Grey: corduroy pinafore

Multicolor or Accent: mostly indigo floral top, indigo pinstripe dress, black/grey/blue stripe dress, grey/blue turtleneck top, black/brown marl turtleneck top, black/brown flannel dress, black brown Alabama Chanin style top, turquoise shot cotton dress

What I like about this grouping is that it would not only all use fabric on hand already, but that all of the dresses and tops will work with any of the pinafores to make a wearable and pleasing outfit. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the SWAP rules and my needs will match up well this year. I could choose suitable garments for a traditional SWAP, or any of the various algebra SWAP variants, and have a good number of "bridge" garments as well, I think.

An interesting informational tidbit I gained, along with a Useful List of garments I intend to sew. Apparently I like stripes... I wear a fair amount of corduroy, and have a good assortment of stripey fabrics in my stash.

Next up, to take some time between now and SWAP announcement to see if I can make sure that my pattern modifications are current with my current measurements

October SMART goals
1 charter #16 primed shakes pruning apple tree
2 rune enamel painted chookhouse
forged iron weight
paper recycle bin
3 - re-knit sweater cuffs yardwaste bin
4 - hem A/C top -
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

wishful Wednesday - wardrobe planning

(what I really wish for is that my gorram crankypants ankle would start improving, but since I am doing everything I can to help with that, with no yet discernable postive result... I chose to focus on something I can affect...)

IN which our plucky heroine chooses a template to spark thoughts about the ongoing wardrobe refurbishment project, and plays with fitting various combinations into assorted suggestions for capsules and SWAP, all intended to use only fabrics currently in my stash...

As it is intended for the process of "Starting From Scratch" and building an entirely new wardrobe, it struck me as interesting to see how my personal quirky style might interface with the very classic Vivienne Files plan... I don't wear "separates" and live in pinafores and dresses and layers of clothing in the wintertime.

Color Schemes - Janice suggests a palette of five colors - two neutrals, two accent colors, and some variation of white/ecru/cream that functions well as a blouse or tee shirt. You don't for a heartbeat have to follow these guidelines, but you DO have to make a decision in order to narrow down your options. Shopping willy nilly for clothes without a plan and a color scheme will not result in an efficient and beautiful wardrobe, unless you're really lucky.  I prefer a slightly different way to mix colors, so will be using black/brown/indigo as my base colors, with grey/turquoise as my accent colors

1: A Nice Pair of Pants - I don't really wear pants as a separate garment, so will put my current pair of loose cropped black knit pants in this spot. I wear them underneath my dresses in the cold weather, and will always want a garment that fills this niche.

2: Shoes - my black Keen oxfords. It will be a challenge to replace these when they wear out, as I wear Keen mens shoes, but in a very small size. My feet are, apparently, "boy feet", as their women's last doesn't fit. Even in Birkies, I can only wear the "unisex" styles and not the womens one's... most annoying!

3: A cardigan and tee - I have a black handknit cardigan, and my pal K is also making me a chop-shop cardigan sweater in various textures of felted black wool... either of those will fill this niche. I wish I could find a finely knit lightweight raglan cardigan sweater... I had one once, long ago, but never found another one.
I have several long sleeve basic knit tops in solid black. I intend to sew a long sleeve turtleneck top in plain solid black as well
4: Jeans and a Shirt - now we get into the sewing... instead of jeans (which I never wear), a new pinafore in random wale black corduroy, and a new black linen blouse, will both be extremely useful.

5: Accessories round one - watch, scarf, bag, earrings, bracelet our plucky heroine does not wear things around her wrists, so wristwatches and bracelets are a non-starter. I've a lovely black linen pom pom cowl, and some black and grey lampwork glass earrings Ariadne made for me. There is a thrifted black leather purse that mostly gets saved for more dressy events, being rather not large enough for shopping or toting around a notebook... maybe I need to I could make a larger tote, or a new knapsack, but not the top priority right now...

6: Accent Color Tops and a Scarf - More sewing: Turquoise shot cotton will make an everyday dress, can be worn by itself, or under a pinafore and thereby function as a top. Grey/blue striped hemp knit will make another turtleneck top, and will coordinate with all my pinafores!
My Solitary Foxen scarf fits right in here, the colors coordinate with my entire wardrobe, and make a nice contrast when worn with all black.

7: A Base in the 2nd Neutral - Sewing up the brown brushed twill from my stash will make a great pinafore, and a coordinating jacket will also be welcome...
my other pair of Keen oxfords are a sort of not quite black, so fit in here... probably my next pair of oxford shoes ought be either brown or dark blue
Clarifying Our Preferences - I am pretty specific about what I prefer: subtle dark dull cool colors, artistic detailing, flared skirts on my pinafores and dresses, multiple layers. Comfort is a priority. I like stripes, and interesting stylised visual patterns.

8: Two Tops, and a Necklace - Here I could add in some additional knit tops with long sleeves. The black/cream marled hemp knit will make a great additional turtleneck top, and could be overdyed in brown. A new Alabama Chanin style knit top in brown/black would be a good wardrobe component as well. If I keep the decoration to the neckline and sleeves/cuffs the effort will not be overwhelming, and it will not be too warm to wear. The ones I have made that are fully two layer are warm as toast.
Here, my turquoise beads fit nicely into this wardrobe plan
9: A Skirt, and Essential Accompaniments No skirts, so instead of a skirt and top, I propose to sew another dress, black flannel with scattered with brown stars. My black Birki Arizonas are a bit more dressy than the Keen oxfords.

10: A Casual Jacket Vest, Top and Shoes I have enough jackets in the wardrobe at this point, so one of my handknit vests will fill in here, either the black/grey stripe, or the solid indigo. it would be fun to sew up a new top from the dark blue midcentury floral cotton; I don't think I need yet more shoes though!

11: A Complete Outfit, for Balance and Accent - Finally, time to really add some indigo... a new dark indigo denim pinafore, an indigo pinstripe dress, and a new shop apron, with the Alabama Chanin borders I made several years ago added to the bottom

12: A Winter Coat, Boots and Scarf - I managed to get over to RCT last week, and picked up 4 yards of the nice three layer Goretex, brown on the outside and black fleece on the inside; it will become a raincoat. I have good waterproof Keen boots still, and a LOT of scarves and shawlettes already.

13: More Accessories! - Finishing the edges on the rain poncho would be a good thing, it works well just as it is. Making the other length of dark grey Goretex into a smaller rain capelet would be useful, and I have 2 black Goretex rainhats...

14: Leisure Wear - the only thing I can use in this category would be some additional knit loose cropped pants, or some knit leggings for deep winter in indigo, or in brown... those would have to wait on suitable fabric, since I don't think there is any in stash, and my desire to struggle yet again to create a pattern that works. Another knit turtleneck in a solid indigo would also be a good addition.

15: A Versatile Dress and an Accent Cardigan - The batik stripe indigo dress I am currently sewing fits in nicely here. I could add another handknit cardigan here, maybe a Philosophers Wool style multicolor knit that used all my colors

16: Evaluating and Balancing our Neutrals - Here is where I add in a few sewing projects that will both help balance this out, and also fill in for assorted garments that are currently almost too worn to wear any more. I desperately need a new grey corduroy pinafore, my current one is threadbare, and there is enough dark grey pinwale on hand to make a new one. I've also a dress length of grey/black/blue stripe fabric that can become a dress that works with most all of pinafore colors.

If/When I achieve all of this, I would have a VERY workable wardrobe. The total garments desired that are not yet sewn are: 4 pinafores, 6 tops, 4 dresses, 2 leggings, 1 raincoat, 1 jacket, 2 capelets. Plus one handknit sweater.

The notes: future jewelry in antiqued silver or gunmetal; turquoise, smokey quartz, blue tourmaline, grey pearls, labradorite. Could use another headscarf in turquoise, possibly a scarf in shibori/tiedye/variegated with all my colors. Could use patent leather Birks, and a smaller decorative purse. Look for brown knit fabric, and indigo knit fabric. Look for replacement for black/grey turtleneck. Could add a second indigo pinafore.

Next up, how do the desired garments fit into various SWAP potential options???

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

a few more Tuesday tidbits...

As I'd mentioned earlier, I managed to get over to RCT last weekend, and whilst acquiring some raincoat fabric, I also found some of this 1/2" double sided reflective "trim". It doesn't look like much just sitting on the table in the daylight.

I had tossed it onto the pile of fabric in the sewing room, waiting to be put away. Passing by the door to the darkened room I noticed how it gleamed in the light from the hallway... (the reflected light is actually much brighter than my poor camera skills can show)

A bit closer and the effect is still really bright. The lowest strips are the most accurate. My plan is to make a reflective cycling vest made from narrow strips, in a kind of loose macrame, for greater safety on those late evening grocery store jaunts.

I also decided to repair my beloved recombinant intarsia knit sweater (aka your tax dollars at work)*, because the cuffs were getting worn to the point that they were beginning to ravel out. Rather than reknit the cuffs in seed stitch, as I had done on the current sweater fifteen+ years ago, I decided to use 2x2 ribbing and then teach myself how to do an invisible tubular cast off**.
New reknit cuff on the left, original cuff on the right... when I made this sweater to begin with, since all the borders were seed stitch, I did the cuffs to match. I was never happy with how the seed stitch made the cuffs wider instead of being nice and snug around the wrist. This is a good opportunity for me to correct my error. Huzzah for the internets, which make it easy to learn new options. I suspect the newly reknit cuffs will be good for at least another ten years...

* the original sweater was knitted back in 1985, when I was getting ready to move to the PNW, and featured my running horse on the back in intarsia.

Back in 2000, the sweater, which had become rather worn, was taken apart back to the yarn, and Bill plied the yarn into 2-ply from the original Lopi. I then added additonal yarn to have enough to reknit the sweater, and also added acorn and oak leaf motifs to the front as well as the running horse on the back.

I did all this reknitting while I was working for the Census Bureau. They hired folks to work answering phones in the evenings from 5 to 10 PM, and not many folks call govt offices after five. When we finished the various other assigned tasks, we still had to stay there until our shifts were over. I did a lot of knitting.

** invisible tubular cast off in 2x2 ribbing here; and more about invisible tubular cast off (1x1 rib) here

October SMART goals
1 charter #16 primed shakes pruning apple tree
2 rune enamel repainted chookhouse
forged iron weight
3 - re-knit sweater cuffs -
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via the train, the last leg

So after that tasty lunch, our plucky heroine returns to Union Station... Heading back, I noticed these decorative cast iron gratings inset into the walls of the corridor back towards the central areas.

This is shower room #2, the accessible shower in the first class lounge. I took full advantage of the chance to have a relaxing bathtime, in a larger space that wasn't constantly moving, as soon it would be time to board the Empire Builder on the final leg of my long long trip. There is a shower available in the sleeping cars, but nothing like this ... Indeed, I wish that Acorn Cottage had a lovely walk in shower space instead of the Terrible Tub!

An abandoned building, one of many seen in the back parts of cities where the train lines run. The patterns the blocked, unblocked and broken windows made seemed to me a kind of wabi sabi gridwork

Soon enough, we were out of the really urban zones and back into the heartland of the continent. The first morning we passed through a lot of rain, which mostly precluded much photography, but I managed this one as the clouds were lifting

Dinner in the dining car, looking out the window past my own reflection to the lights beyond. Pretty much the only time I eat steak is when I am on the Empire Builder. The Amtrak "signature steak" is the best dinner on the menu, and is truly delicious.

A huge flock of pigeons swooping in an aerial dance around these buildings...
Ah... these are perhaps grain elevators? (which would explain the reason for all the birds?) This ignorant bicoastal woman is embarrassed by how much she does not know, but I do know that every day and every place has its own beauty

As the mist rises on the second day, in this field the hay bales are sharp edged rectangles...

... while in the next field, the bales are, instead, huge bristly sharp edged cylinders wrapped in green

In far more places than two years ago, plantations of windmills were visible from the tracks. (As well, I was surprised to see quite a bit of solar panel deployment in Massachusetts, again far more than on my previous trip)

Approaching the Rockies, and Glacier National Park... A bit more snow on the eastern faces of the Rocky Mountains... but sadly by the time we were well into the mountains it was full dark, so no photo opportunities, just time for sleeping...

And in the morning, one final view of my temporary conveyance...

looking from the roomettes towards the actual first class bedrooms, the central corridor makes a bend and then runs along one side of the rail car, as the few actual bedrooms are a bit more "spacious"...

it was a good trip, and if life allows, I will do it again in another two years.

Monday, October 17, 2016

via the train... the middle part

IN which our plucky heroine continues on the journey...

Chicago is the rail hub for the USA, so almost all major rail lines terminate there, and when going cross country, my trip always includes a layover in the Windy City. This is probably my favorite view inside Union Station:

In between arrival in Chicago, and my next leg of the journey onward to Boston, it was necessary to acquire some dinner... guided by my new clever phone, I followed the map to find "Pierogi Heaven" which was only a few blocks from the station across one of the many bridges. An assortment of tasty stuffed dumplings acquired, and a stop at Baba's Village for a mango lassi, and I was fortified to continue my travels!

in Chicago, I saw this mysterious weed growing in several places on "vacant" land. The seed pods were about an inch across. Didn't see any blossoms to help identification...
Aha... my guess of something in the nightshade family was entirely off! It turns out it is likely an introduced Asian mallow known as Velvetleaf

This building has a most clever decorative panel, with a map of this portion of Chicago, and the building itself marked in red. As a designer, I was impressed. However, it was quite hot out, just over 80F, and the intense humidity began to turn into actual rain, so time to head back to Union Station..

The first class lounge in Chicago was recently entirely rebuilt, and the womens rest room also includes two shower rooms, a new and civilised amenity. This is shower room #1.
The way it works is after you have shown your ticket to gain admission to the lounge, you can then exchange your drivers license for a cardlock to one of the two private shower rooms, and a packet of bath towel and washcloth. The facilities are brand new, immaculate and very spa-like, including a dispenser for shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Our plucky heroine was delighted, impressed, and much refreshed. Another chapel of the Holy Hot Running Water!

::: spent almost three weeks visiting family; photography took a back seat :::

Much too quickly, it was time to return to the Left Coast.My carry-on baggage also makes a good place to put my legs up for a few moments, before settling in to the compartment...

The Lake Shore Limited is the route that goes between Boston and Chicago. I am less fond of the eastern trains with the bathroom actually inside the roomette, but the folding sink is amusing. It always reminds me of the bathroom in Firefly.

Folding sink in position for use. (Underneath it is the in-compartment commode) Having the bathroom in the roomette narrows the one end of the bed to something more like a mummy bag configuration. Our plucky heroine is short so this is not a problem. YMMV

Every time I saw this sign, the glyph for helpful cleaner looked more and more like a demon, complete with pitchfork and horns.

sunset on the Lake Shore Limited (I think this was the Schenectady stop)

probably the most spectacular sunset of the trip (I think it is Schenectady and the Mohawk River, but I may be mistaken)

The eastern legs of the trip pass through a lot of industrial scenery

Once my train arrived in Chicago, my first thought was to acquire some lunch*... Rather than return to Pierogi Heaven, as tasty as it had been, I wanted to try Lou Mitchell's, a diner that has been in business since 1923, only a block away from Union Station, and at the beginning of Rt 66 on Jackson Blvd.
* the food on the Empire Builder is so much better than the Lake Shore Limited, and my breakfast had been... disappointing

What can I say... some very graceful neon. But I wanted the full sit down experience...

My Chicago lunch: a BLT on house baked dark rye, a glass of milk, and a relic from my childhood, a "black and white" for dessert.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

via the train - between here and Chicago

in which our plucky heroine shares a travelogue...

It took a while to get all the photos off my camera and into the computer. My cross-country trip last month was all via Amtrak, and covered over 6400 miles and four time zones. One good thing about train travel is that there is no jet lag. The first leg of the trip was aboard the Empire Builder from the west coast to Chicago; I left from Portland's Union Station on September 7th.

my carry-on gear is stacked on the seat opposite me: daypack, soft suitcase, and my elegant black straw hat with the silk chiffon scarf acting as a hatband. My rolled up memory foam is stashed atop the two provided Amtrak pillows, which are sitting on the "stairs" used to get into the upper bunk in the roomette.
As on my previous cross country excursion two years ago, the plan was to travel in (relative) style, ensconced in a first class roomette, aka "bunk bed with a door". Being able to lie down to sleep at night makes the long journey mostly relaxing rather than grueling.

Eastern Washington sometime on the first evening...

Multiple reflections, somewhere I think in Glacier... the observation car windows above and a fragment of sky down in the river.

Many horses in Montana. While I love seeing the varied landscapes outside the train windows, I often wish there was some way to know more about what I am seeing - given the spacious landscapes with few animals visible for most of my travels, looking at all these horses penned up in one place was not reassuring as to their future destiny, though one friend suggested it may have been part of a mustang roundup.

Montana really is the big sky country!

big sky, tiny cows...

big sky and rolling hills... I love the quality of the light in the prairie heartlands

sunset on the first night, looking west from my seat in my compartment, hence the blurry edge as I focused outside the train

passed through most of North Dakota and Minnesota while I was sleeping, and in the morning caught a few glimpses of Minneapolis/St Paul after breakfast...

As we travel from Minnesota through Wisconsin, the landscape changes yet again. I liked the contrast here between the concrete highway understructure, the stacks of railroad ties, and the wild greenery on the embankment

more industrial scenery the further east we go...

highway megalith

we passed through Milwaukee sometime after lunch (lunch was tasty barbecue pork shanks with mashed potatoes and salad and Greek yoghurt cheesecake for dessert)

A very colorful bridge in downtown Milwaukee

and some matching highway spaghetti, also blue and gold... just looked this up online and it is part of the Marquette Interchange, a new redesigned multi-freeway intersection in downtown Milwaukee

...and this concludes the first leg of the trip photos, taken over the almost two days between home and Chicago.