Sew, the weekend

All of my knitting was in the dog house over the weekend. I may have been suffering a post-project slump after a) "Catamount," my Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic, and b) those busy and productive few days off with the boys.

A slump is the perfect time for hexagons, and that's exactly what happened on Saturday morning at the farmer market.

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Later on Saturday, I actually made an attempt at laying out and assembling a strip quilt that I've had cut for ages. That ended up in the dog house, too! I think I'm forcing it and need to do some editing (I think there's more than one quilt happening there).

Needing some craftual satisfaction, I turned to my potato chip project du jour, a romper for Junah! I'd recently picked up a Green Bay Packers t-shirt at the thrift store (new, with tags) for just that purpose, following the same method as for Baby Captain America!

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Drawing lines.

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Three hours later, I'd finished everything but snaps, and added those on Sunday morning. I was able to get all but the front facing from one t-shirt (size XXL, I believe). There's still plenty of room for a diaper butt, but I left off the snaps at the crotch this time.

Sunday was the first day in a while that I didn't have to be somewhere or take care of someone, and it seemed like a good day to play around finally try airbrushing. It was windy outside, so made part of the garage floor my work space (the part that isn't taken over by the indigo operation, art gallery displays, and bicycles) (also known as where I normally park my car but haven't in months) (and all that stuff will relocate by the time the snow flies!).

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I chose two old mismatched green t-shirts and one new black one to provide the fabric for my "muslin" of the Wrap Skirt and to test the airbrush/compressor set up.

I mixed paint, fitted everything together with our little air compressor, laid out some old towel-rags on the garage floor, and had at it. I painted one piece at a time, the stencil being large enough to cover each piece without having to reposition. Some time ago, I'd purchased the large all-over mylar stencil in the Angie's Fall design -- it's one of my favorites, and I'm not sick of it yet!

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Inside front, Back, Outside front

All the while I was thinking that it would be really great to learn the finer points of stenciling (from start to finish) and, thanks to my $5 for Florence campaign, that might will happen someday.

The design is a little soft in the middle of the back piece (where the stencil was not adhered to the fabric very well), and it was while spraying the outside front piece that I was running out of paint, so it's splotchy in places and sparse in others.

I had barely enough paint, having first mixed my color concoction (a little black, a little white, a little silver) in a small 2-oz. jar. Turns out that the mouth of that jar is too small for the airbrush fitting, so had to dump it all into a 4-oz. jar and there was a fair bit of waste.

Clean up was interesting...

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That's the towel upon which I did the first scrubbing of paint off the stencil. I win for fanciest rag bag contents! I finished cleaning up in the bathtub and "sticking it" on the tile wall. Clean up sure takes a while.

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I've already begun stitching. I'm not sure how far I'll go with that... it would be nice to have a wearable piece, even just for running around, but it is just a "muslin" and my time might be better spent. We'll see. I'm content for now.

Thoughts & things: I made a slight cutting mistake on the inside front piece (it should have been mirrored with the outside front, and was not). I might try a button (something other than a tie) on the inside. One of the old green shirts is so soft and worn that it feels like velvet against my skin (it also has a few holes - the straight pins show where not to cut!).


My Indigo Boys

My nephews arrived last Tuesday after soccer practice, and I delivered them back to their dad on Thursday at soccer practice. In between, we dyed in indigo, I taught them how to knit, we went to the local children's museum & out to lunch with Ali & Junah, they had an art lesson with Uncle Rusty, they did a little coloring, played games on their iPads ('til batteries ran out and we didn't have a means to recharge), they had soccer practice on Wednesday, we watched a couple of movies, and we explored in & around the house (like, where's the door to get outside from the basement?).

Whew!

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So intent! We used string, rubber bands, and binder clips (oopsie, some of them leave rust marks!). They each made a shirt for themselves and for their mom & dad. There was an extra shirt in their size, so I did that one, and I had a bunch of onesies that I folded and tied, plus we threw in that other pair of Rusty's shorts to "refresh."

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I did buy longer gloves for this session! I figured that one hand out of four isn't too bad when we're talking 8- and 10-year-olds... that was one filled up glove!

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During...

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After! So much fun.

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At the museum... Junie is always moving!!

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Some work on perspective (including amazing floating chair) and space (asteroid, comet, sun, earth).

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They wanted to know about drawing faces, too, and Rusty gave them a great little lesson. Mack's a quick study!

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The boys were also interested in an old typewriter that Rusty had in his studio. They finally convinced him to put some paper in it, and this is what they came up with. That sums it all up quite nicely and we're all looking forward to doing it again!

P.S. Next time, they want to learn to sew!!


The Indigo Boys (preview)

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These were among the photos I posted on Wednesday morning when the boys and I made it out to the garage to start dipping our tied and bound garments into the indigo vat.

About an hour later, their big brother Sam posted a comment that included a link to a Guide to Child Labor Laws in Wisconsin! Haha.

I don't know why I chose those photos... that last one cracks me up even more after Sam's comment! In truth, they did do most of the "work," but only because they wanted to... and that allowed me to take photos!

The reality was more like this:

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GOOFBALLS w/ATTITUDE!!

(Yes, they did wear pristine, white aprons...)

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Boy, did we have fun!

It was our first-ever "Aunt Camp," and they want to come back... and stay longer! And my sister messaged me last night to say that they can't stop talking about it.

That makes me so happy. More to come... we were busy!!


Right Now - August

Anticipating... Three days with nephews in the house next week! There will be knitting, dyeing, drawing, and swimming... for starters.

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Eating... Grilled Skewered Chicken Thighs with Tzatziki, Salt-roasted Beets with Pistachio Vinaigrette (and Goat Cheese) a la The Purple Pig (some of our favorite things on their menu); Souvlaki (because we'd already made Tzatziki); and Kolokithokeftedes are on the menu!

Enjoying... The occasional Caprese Salad with tomatoes and basil from our little patio/pergola garden. Those tomatoes are SO good!

Inspired by... (apparently, at the moment) Mediterranean cuisine!

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Knitting... I have finally finished the Back and have moved on to Left Front of my Prickly Poppy Cardi!

Listening... I'm really digging Junah babbles (when I can).

Planning... (trying to decide on) my next Alabama Chanin project: a dress (or two or three), a vest, a cardi, a skirt? All are under consideration. I also have a couple of rompers for Junah in mind.

Reading... Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline, for book club. I just finished The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I certainly don't churn through books, so we won't even talk about BINGO.

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Remembering... Team SOS and their second-to-last 9th place finish four years ago at the Fit City Triathlon! By contrast, this has been a very inactive summer, but certainly not an idle summer! (I have recently resumed planking... it's something.)

Sewing... the long-term joint quilt project with Ali (again). Thankfully, there are only a few short steps to go before it's all pieced together and we send it off to be quilted. Hallelujah! (Also, the self-imposed order to not start anything new until this thing is finished will be moooooot.)

Splurging... I am tempted to splurge on the new Alabama Chanin DIY Makeshift Design Tote Kit. But what I really really want is to go to Florence! That's a whole 'nother level of splurge, though, and even though there's a Classic Weekend Workshop on my birthday this year, I just can't go to that level of indulgence (even for my birthday). However, instead of wishing & whining (even if it's only to myself), I've decided to start saving $5* for Florence. I won't be going for my birthday, because it isn't going to happen that fast, but maybe in a year or two!

Watching... Justified. We've made it to S5. So hooked.

*I have utilized this $5 savings plan before, usually when there's a fun little trip coming up and I think I might want some extra cash. Ali & Rod basically paid for midwifery services that way. Maddy recently bought a new computer with her $5 savings! It's pretty painless and it sure adds up... 5, 10, 15, 20 (I've always loved counting by 5s).


Ten on Tuesday: Country mouse

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Love About Visiting The Country*

1. Barns and barn cats.

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Barn

Near Grantsburg, Wisconsin

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2. Chickens.

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West Kilbride, Scotland

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3. Country paths.

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Isle of Anglesey, Wales

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4. Cows... or coos.

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West Kilbride, Scotland

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5. Hay fields... especially when dotted with round bales.

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Near Marshfield, Wisconsin

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6. Lambs.

Lambs again
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Bryn Celli Du - Isle of Anglesey, Wales

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7. Mossy stone walls.

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United Kingdom

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8. Fields of pumpkins.

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Near Berkeley, California

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9. Sheep.

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Near Valders, Wisconsin

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10. Fields of sunflowers.

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Northeast Wisconsin

***

*Featuring "the country" from both USA and UK!


Weekending: Music & Art

The third Mile of Music festival, aka Mile 3, was the happening thing around here over the weekend, with around 700 performances by 200+ original musical acts from Thursday to Sunday.

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I attended the performance of Son Little on Thursday evening, already very familiar with his music thanks to Kate... I've been listening for quite a while now! You may have read/heard about his music in The New Yorker or on NPR. It was a great show and I'm so glad I went! (And wore my new dress).

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Saturday morning was a farmer market morning, as usual, and the highlight of every market morning is a visit from Junah! Not only did he dump out all three snack containers, he took great pleasure in walking over it... the sound and sensation!

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Later on Saturday, we made our way down to The Alley Project (that link will take you to Kate's YoungSpace blog with lots of behind-the-scenes/before-after photos, etc.). We participated in a Drawing Rally -- I volunteered and Rusty made art!

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Artists made as many pieces as they wanted in their time period to help raise funds for community arts initiatives.

Some very talented artists participated:

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And some enthusiastic community members also took part!

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It was a blast and the place was hoppin'!

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Alabama Chanin Tunic: Catamount

I travel on occasion, and when I do I like to fly. One of the things I like most about flying is viewing the landscape below, which is why I always choose a window seat (and sometimes arrive at my destination with a sore neck). Wisconsin, and much of the USA, divides land using the geometric Public Land Survey System and I am endlessly entertained by the patterns and design of our land, both natural and man-made.

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Somewhere between Wisconsin and Mexico, February 2015.

The aerial view of Wisconsin in the warm months can be stunning, reminiscent of a giant quilt -- with every shade of green you can imagine, sometimes striped or blocked with brown or yellow, full of texture, contrast, and pattern. It gives me a thrill every time I see it. In autumn, add the reds, golds, and oranges of turning leaves. In winter... not quite as thrilling. There is still geometry, texture, interest, and it can be quite tranquil and lovely; it can also be bleak, raw, and desolate (not to mention cold).

I often view the landscape below me and think about it in terms of textiles: how could a particular design be used in quilting, knitting, or lately sewing (mainly surface design/embroidery).

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My main inspiration came from Snow Drawings at Catamount Lake, Colorado, 2013

When I decided to make an Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic/Dress using the lovely gift of organic cotton jersey from Margene a couple of months ago, I knew I wanted something special to honor the gift. I'm not sure when I first saw Sonja Hinrichsen's snow drawings -- sometime in the past year, a photo or article shared via social media, no doubt; I was immediately struck by her work, and I swear to god, the choir began to sing! The concept of her snow drawings blows my mind, and even after some intimacy with her work, I continue to be utterly amazed... the vision, the design, the execution, the perfection.

Mosaic1My  normal mode of operation is to dive right in, but I did do some testing to figure out some particulars.

The first step was to choose the particular areas/motifs I wanted to document on the fabric and then manipulate the images to correct the angle (so that circles were circular instead of elliptical).

Mosaic2Wow, that stuff really works!

Chosen design motifs were printed on an adhesive-backed wash-away fabric stabilizer (such as Sulky or Pellon), then cut out and arranged on the fabric. I was interested in a deep design at the hem... at first, I was going to do the entire dress, but quickly decided to do only the front.

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Some of the motifs are very labyrinth-like, peaceful and meditative, contrasting with the high-energy, whimsy, and unabashed fun of other parts -- and I felt all of those things while stitching, but mostly excitement! It was so much fun to do and I looked forward to sewing time everyday!

A million progress/process photos were taken along the way.

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The dress was assembled after embroidery was complete. (Construction details below.) I modified the neckline a bit, then bound my first V-neck. The Wonder Clips are amazing, of course, for holding things without piercing the fabric, but it occurred to me that basting the neckline might even be better. I had recollection of the neck gaping a bit on Maddy's Hootie shirt and it occurred to me that there would be a better chance at correcting that if I basted first; it would also eliminate weight from the clips that might stretch the fabric a bit more than I'd like while sewing up. I did, in fact, make an adjustment at the back neck before finishing, and the basting lines made perfect guidelines for sewing the beaded binding.

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Front and back - finished!

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That's my name in Morse Code beaded into the hem on one side; the year is beaded on the other side.

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I finished the dress on Sunday, and decided on Tuesday that I wanted a Bolero to go with it. I really want to make a gray & red version to go with the dress, but some "quick" slow fashion was called for, as I wanted to wear it on Thursday evening. I made a single-layer cap-sleeve version using a thrifted men's XL t-shirt. The fabric is off-white, I used Slate thread, binding the neck edge with parallel stitch and finishing the sleeves with a random ruffle -- a nod to and coordinating with the tunic, but no beads.

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Alabama Chanin A-line Dress: CATAMOUNT

  • Alabama Chanin 100% organic cotton jersey fabric - Blue Slate
  • Button craft thread - double strand of Black for construction, single strand of Slate for embroidery & beading
  • Backstitch embroidery
  • All knots inside
  • All seams inside felled
  • Customized length to between tunic & dress length (hits just above the knee)
  • Customized neckline to make slightly deeper V
  • Parallel binding stitch at armholes
  • Beaded parallel binding stitch at neckline
  • Beaded random ruffle at hemline
  • Seed beads: clear and red
  • Bugle beads: dark gray, satin gray, and red
  • Chop beads: dark gray and red
  • Sequins: silver and dark gray

I've shared my project with Sonja Hinrichsen, whose work inspired the embellishment, and I'm happy to report that she loves it!

There are a few more photos (if you can believe it) in a Flickr Collection/Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic: Catamount.


Ten on Tuesday: City mouse

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Love About Visiting The City

1. Restaurants.

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We discovered it in 2012 and now, a trip to Chicago doesn't seem complete without a stop at The Purple Pig.

2. Shopping

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...or maybe just window shopping!

3. Architecture

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4. Sometimes a movie or film that won't ever make it to our neck of the woods.

5. Sites.

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Cloud Gate and Millennium Park.

6. Events.

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7. Friends!

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Visiting another city, such as Grand Rapids, New York, Salt Lake City, or Berkeley, sometimes means meeting up with a friend or three!

8. Museums

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The boys and Sue at The Field Museum, Chicago.

9. Gawking... um, I mean PEOPLE WATCHING! Haha. There's no better place for it.

10. Options for getting around -- train, subway, on foot.

 


Indigo shorts

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Ann & her family stopped by on Friday night, the first leg of their trip to Madison for a wedding on Saturday. Ann & Brian made dinner while I helped the boys prep some shirts for the indigo vat!

They're going to be staying with me for a few days in mid-August, and they each have a few more shirts with which to experiment.

We let the shirts sit overnight after their dip; I snapped and sent some photos on Saturday so they could see the results.

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Mack put rubber bands at the sleeves, then sort of bunched up and folded the body, securing with another rubber band... and I think he tucked a clothespin under the band at the last minute. It wasn't very secure, but I think there's some recognizable clothespin action on the right sleeve.

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I helped Addy secure rubber bands on the body and each sleeve... I *love* the tiny little circle motif on the left sleeve.

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Annie banded up a shirt, too. She used a lot of rubber bands and made the back different from the front (alas, not shown...).

I refreshed the vat a bit after they left, and after the farmers market (and my nap) on Saturday, I threw a few more things into the pot.

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Shirts, shorts, and even a pair of my stepdad's jeans on the line after dyeing on Friday-Saturday. The jeans turned out pretty good, and he gave me several more pair to "refresh." I think I'll be doing that this week on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon.

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We'd prepped a shirt for my BIL on Friday but no one did anything with it, so I bunched and banded it into sections and dipped it on Saturday. I dipped the bottoms sections one or two more times than the top.

Edited to add:

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Until I perused my closet this morning, I forgot about this J.Jill top that I over-dyed in the indigo vat! I bought it 5 years ago when Sharon & I went to Las Vegas. It was light gray; I wore it and I liked it, and tired of it. Lately, it's been in and out of the donation bag countless times; now it has new life!

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I also revived a very old pair of Rusty's shorts. It's actually one of two pair. I forgot about the second, but that's okay because I can show "before" photos.

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I don't know... 10 years old? At least six...

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Here's the color under the pocket flap... obviously the entire garment was once that color. The dark teal spots are telltale signs that these were worn while painting our house.

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One quick dip and they're good for another 10, at least!! Haha.

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The end.

 


In the 1940s...

In the 1940s (the World War II years) the demand for butter tubs and cheese boxes kept the Blum factories very busy. It took a long time before wages went up, but as foreman, Lester had to put in a lot of extra hours, many unpaid. However, his dad compensated him in other ways. A couple of times when I went to make a payment at the lumber company or on the doctor bill at the clinic, I found that big-hearted Grandpa John had paid in full! Very timely!

How did we make some extra money to keep growing (our home) and "growing" (our family)?

Lester often thought he'd rather be a farmer! I couldn't blame him, after starting as a teenager in that noisy, saw-dusty factory. But I had experienced, and knew the hardships and labors of that early farm life too well to let him make that mistake.

Making use of our extra acre gave him a taste of it, small scale! He had it plowed and planted potatoes. After lots of work weeding, hoeing, and digging he had very good potatoes, and they sold for 25 cents a bushel!

The next attempt at farming: we fenced that acre in and bought a cow. After all, we were using a lot of milk. We also made our own butter. The boys enjoyed cranking the churn and the buttermilk was wonderful for baking. When there was a surplus of milk, we let it sour to the curd stage and made our own delicious cottage cheese.

Next, "Farmer Lester" bought a pregnant pig, and it was a special family moment watching the birth of the piglets. They were raised to a marketable age, and then finally the mother pig supplied us with many good meals. We had the hams and bacon smoked and I canned some. Remember, there were no freezers then. I made lard and the surplus lard went into a batch of laundry soap from a recipe our mothers used.

Each year we bought 100 baby chicks for the boys to raise. This provided many good meals and a steady supply of eggs. There was always a market for the surplus fryers and eggs.

excerpted from my grandmother's 2001 memoir, "A Look Back"
Lester was my grandfather; John, his dad, my great granddad


Ten on Tuesday: Blueberries

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Things To Do with Blueberries

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1. Pick them.

2. Eat them right off the bush.

3. Eat them right out of the bucket.

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4. Eat them right out of the box.

5. Eat them by the handful.

6. Eat them from a bowl with a little bit of cream.

7. Add them to a bowl of cereal.

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8. Add them to a fruit salad.

9. Make blueberry muffins.

10. Make blueberry pancakes.

I *love* blueberries! You???
 

Weekending: Late edition

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Oh, well, HI THERE!

I finished the embellishment of my Alabama Chanin A-line Dress on Friday night! I'd already seamed up the back a while ago, and couldn't resist Wonder Clipping the other three seams so I could try it on (shown above and below, inside-out).

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Pleased as punch.

In case it's hard to tell, I am very happy!! I can't wait to wear this dress!!

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As of last night, all the seams are sewn and felled; edges await finishing (neckline, armholes, hem).

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Busy boy.

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Peek-a-BOO!

It was a regular market morning on Saturday, with the addition of an early  morning helper!

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Intrigued by Walter - the spaniel that lives across the street.

I watched Junah later on Saturday, too, while Ali helped Rusty set up his booth for the 55th Art at the Park in Appleton. Kate helped him tear down last night. Both girls made nostalgic posts on Facebook, recalling the innumerable art fairs to which they've accompanied him over the years. It was always a pretty big thrill -- various Chicago-land shows, that long show in Ann Arbor, etc.

Rusty had a follow-up appointment with his regular doc this morning. He's generally feeling better, though plagued by one or two areas that have been feeling worse; he checked out OK, with a prescription refill, and just needs to be patient while all those strained muscles and ligaments heal!


Pool Days

Before the pedestrian/car incident* on Monday night, I was at (our fabulous) local pool to watch Junah at his first swimming lesson!

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He loves the water and did great (especially considering that he'd fallen asleep in the car on the way, so was a little groggy!). There are quite a few in his class, and some are quite a bit younger!

Mack & Addy were here all week for soccer camp, so I grabbed them on Tuesday night to meet Ali & Junah at the pool.

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It was a beautiful evening.

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Junah even went down the water slide with his momma...

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TWICE!!

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The boys didn't do anything daring, only because they were wearing swimwear-like shorts and were not feeling very secure... afraid of potential "over-exposure"!

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I hope we get the chance to do it again!

*Rusty seems to be doing okay, still very sore and moving very slowly... a little spasm/stitch/something in his side early this morning meant that I had to help him out of bed (twice), and he was unable raise his arm very high for a while, but he's loosened up a bit as the morning progressed... and we're all still counting lucky stars. Thanks for all of your good thoughts & wishes!


Ten on Tuesday: My American Artist

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite American Artists

I'm only going to post about one American artist!

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My husband, Lee "Rusty" Mothes

I'm thankful today that he's alive and well and in one piece... if a little gimpy!

Last night, he called me from an ambulance, en route to the ER. He was hit by a car while crossing the street on his way home, only a few blocks from our house. Thankfully, an off-duty EMT was right there, at his side in 30 seconds; nearby ambulance and police were on site within minutes.

He's banged up and very sore, but seems otherwise okay; after they took an xray and checked him out for a couple of hours in ER, he was released. There don't appear to be any broken bones or other trauma. The way he landed, I think his backpack helped to prevent his head from hitting the pavement and kept him from getting significant road rash. At the risk of sounding maudlin,

IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH WORSE!

Honestly, I didn't immediately go there... and I don't stay long if I get there... because it's scary.

We are all very thankful!

* * * * *

If you're interested in checking out some of Lee's work, visit:


Weekending: Baseball, Wedding, Weeding, Sewing, Knitting

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It was a beautiful night for a baseball game on Friday!

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As it turns out, it was MINION NIGHT! Annie and I -- not the 8 & 10 yo boys -- were the only ones interested in the photo op. Heh. Fun times.

* * * * *

My first thought when I woke on Saturday morning and noticed the sky through the window:

Red sky at morn, sailor take warn!

Soon there was a severe thunderstorm warning issued. The wind picked up right on cue, followed by thunder, lightning, and rain. There was a flurry of texts with Ali regarding the market and we eventually decided to skip it. Some vendors set up after the storm had passed -- maybe around 9 a.m. -- but it's not really worth it to set up & tear down our rig for 3 hours. Not to mention that it was still oppressively hot and humid, because the storm did nothing in that regard.

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I was thankful to turn over and sleep in on a Saturday for the first time in over a month! It also meant that I wouldn't need an after-market nap, could shower right away instead of waiting until after the after-market nap, and had a few unscheduled hours at my disposal! Laundry, lunch out with Kate, and a little bit of sewing time took care of that!

I accompanied Annie to another wedding reception on Saturday evening. It was at The Marq, and I knew right were it was... we pass it every time we head up I-41 to Green Bay or beyond. We pulled in to the parking lot and I remarked that it didn't seem very full, but people were obviously arriving and Annie thought she recognized someone's truck.

We walked toward the door and a man came stumbling out; he laughed and said that he was staggering already and hadn't even had a drink yet! He offered his hand to Ann and said, "Hi. I'm Mary's dad."

Puzzled, Annie said, "Mary?"

"The bride!"

"Um, Kayla's the bride... maybe there's another wedding here?"

"No, just the one."

OOPS! Wrong venue. I didn't even know there was another MARQ! The invitation (not to mention all the venue signage) said "The Marq on Lineville Road." But I didn't even pay attention to what road we were on... I knew right where it was! I think that if one location is distinguished by address, then the other should be too!

We GPS'd, hopped back in the car and headed to the other side of town, battling a bit of traffic due to road construction in combination with the Brett Favre hall of fame induction that was also happening in Green Bay on Saturday night!

We made it, had a great time, and even danced a bit (Annie more than me!). We were reminded of a wedding we attended together at this time last year... in L.A.!

* * * * *

On Sunday morning, we all met at Joe's for a late breakfast -- gluten-free pancakes (with optional pecans) a la Ali & Jillian. Mmm, they were delicious!

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We spent a few hours hanging out -- alternating between working (weeding, trimming, cutting back, cleaning the deck) and playing with the kiddos. Junah was introduced to the old Little Tikes Mower that Addy used to play with... so cute! The big boys found a never-opened/never-used gigantic styrofoam model airplane in the garage and we all had fun playing with that! The power of suggestion? Today is the opening day of this year's EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, and there were noticeably more real planes than usual in our airspace yesterday.

For much of the evening I sewed... until my (middle) finger nearly bled... I'm getting so close to finishing the embellishment of my Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic! I finally put on a soft thimble, but my impulse, then, is to avoid that finger and use another! I've never regularly used a thimble, even when I was cross-stitching all the time (and sometimes it would really hurt then, too); I'll just have to get used to it.

The rest of the evening was spent knitting -- the first time all weekend that it came out of my tote bag! I'm on row 45 of 97 of the knitted-on edging... almost half-way!

* * * * *

How was your weekend?


As days off go...

It was a good one!

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It started with coffee, just like every other day!

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I set yarn to soak for indigo dyeing planned for later in the day.

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Then I decided to tackle the Refashion 2.0 of this top. It was originally a large, wide, long-sleeved layering piece (at least that's how my mother always wore it). Mom gave it to me quite a few years ago and I wore it that way once or twice, too. Somehow, it occurred to me that it would be cute as a sleeveless almost-tunic top. I'm not sure what possessed me, because it was certainly not the rage to refashion clothing at the time, nor was I even sewing much then (or ever... I've sewn more in the past 18 months than I have in the past 56 years, including all those hours in Home Ec). I'd lopped off the sleeves and chopped off a chunk at each side; sewed new side seams, turned under the armholes (double-stitching, even), and VOILA! New top.

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It turned out pretty good and I wore it for a while, but it's been taking up space in my closet for far too long now. I wore it again the other day and remembered why... it was a little snug under the arm.

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So I fixed that yesterday!! It may be a wee bit roomier than ideal now, but I'm wearing it and... I'm happy with it!

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Then I had a hair appointment. A little layering, some thinning, a wonderful head massaging shampoo... it feels (and smells) so good!

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And then! I took this picture, put my gloves on, and played around with a bunch of yarn and stuff in the indigo vat for the next few hours.

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I dyed some sparkly sock yarn.

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I over-dyed yarn that I'd previously dyed with jewelweed (LOVE!).

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I dyed the last of some now-discontinued worsted-weight merino.

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And I dyed some yarn made from banana fiber! I have three of these hanks, originally lime green, but dipped only two into the indigo... the three (below, lower rung) would look fabulous together! Katie suggested a bag...

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In addition to more yarn, I also dyed a long narrow length of pale yellow jersey and a pair of size 3T pink long-john PJs. I'm thinking an infinity scarf (or two) for the jersey. The long-johns are hand-me-downs from the youngest of my girls (at least), so are 20-some years old and quite faded; I plunked them in for a little blue revival. One button is missing and couple others are threatening to fall off, so I think I'm going to replace them all. Fingers crossed that they'll fit Junah!

I did some knitting while we watched a couple episodes of Justified last night -- only 77 more repeats of the knitted-on edging to go before my TTL Mystery Shawl is finished.

The only thing that could have made yesterday better was time for sewing (and maybe a pedicure), but I'm going to take some time for sewing this afternoon! Priorities!!


Ten on Tuesday: I Scream!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Ice Cream Flavors

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I rarely scream for ice cream these days, but when I do...

1. Moose Tracks

2. Coffee

3. Chocolate

4. Vanilla (with appropriate toppings: chocolate syrup, pecans, and/or chocolate chips)

5. Mint Chip

6. Butter Pecan

7. Cookies 'n Cream

8. Fudge Swirl

9. Neapolitan

10. Orange Sherbet (...I know)

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I also like Klondike bars, ice cream sandwiches, a plain old ice cream bar, fudgsicles, creamsicles (orange), push-ups (orange), Dilly bars (chocolate), drumsticks... there are probably a million new "licensed" ice cream treats on the market these days, but I like the tried-and-true.

What's your favorite?


Weekending

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Saturday was a Market Morning, of course. I squeezed a lot of lemons! I don't think our set up has ever been the same two weeks in a row... always moving and, hopefully, always improving.

I accompanied my sister Annie to a wedding reception/dinner in Green Bay on Saturday evening. Her husband the the boys met her here later in the evening, and on Sunday morning we all went to see MINIONS! Did you know that they show movies like that as early as 9:15 am? We went early, but not that early!

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I watched Junah on Sunday afternoon while his mom did catered beverages for a family reunion. He played some with the boys, but mostly we cuddled.

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His hair is really growing!

And slept. He hadn't been feeling well earlier in the week, and a couple of big molars are coming in... making life pretty miserable at times. He had fun with the boys, though; I never tire of their doting on him. It's something special.

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I finally sat down and took a little "me" time on Sunday night. I've finished the mesh (3 repeats) and have begun the knit-on edging for the TTL Mystery Shawl. The darker contrasting color surprised me by being a little electric in areas (not a bad thing), and I love how it's making the more subtle lavender-blue in the main color pop... I hadn't really seen it as "blue" before.

* * * * * Catch up! * * * * *

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Maddy brought us a fun little colander bowl from her Appalachia trip. It's fairly small, maybe 5-6" across, perfect for a bunch of grapes or some berries. She enjoyed talking about pottery -- especially her Aunt Sharon's work -- with the maker.

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Last Wednesday, after checking in with Maddy and dealing with the car situation, I met my sister Karen in Wausau for lunch (including one alcoholic drink & dessert) in trade for the the 7 lbs of tart cherries that I'd picked & cleaned for her the Sunday before. We met at Red Eye Brewing Company and had a wonderful meal together! Karen had their Red Eye Chicken Mac, I had Woodfired Grassfed Meatballs (enough to save some for Thursday's lunch), and we both had a brownie with vanilla custard for dessert. So. Good.

* * * * *

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I need some sewing time!


Friday Letters

Dear Summer,

Why you gotta come & go so fast?

* * * * *

Dear Work,

Why you gotta take up all my time?

* * * * *

Saturn then

Delivery day! June 5, 2000.

Dear 2000 Saturn SW,

Thanks for getting us there & back for 15 years and helping us make some memories. We couldn't have done it without you!

Saturn now

Thanks for the memories! July 8, 2015.


Right Now - July

Anticipating... the Friday opening of HERE AND AWAY at The ARTGarage in Green Bay, a photography show curated by Kate and presented by Young Space.

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#tbt #sparklers - I'm thinking 1963 in Madison, where my Uncle Cliff was either in medical school or doing a residency. Pictured, my cousins Gail & Gordy and their mother, Aunt Cece, at left; Sharon, Mom holding Michael, Karen, and me.

Celebrating... the 4th of July! I'll be making lemonade at the farmers' market in the morning, also cheering on all of the participants in the annual Firecracker 5K Walk/Run. (We're either going to be very busy at the market, or very not busy... hard to say.) That will no doubt be followed by a short nap, and later I'll happily enjoy watching fireworks on TV while I knit.

Drinking... sparkling water with fresh lemon and/or lime juice, and sometimes gin; also the occasional caipirinha.

Enjoying... some fabulous weather!

Itching... to SEW, SEW, SEW!

Knitting... I'm still, very slowly, plugging away at Prickly Poppy, but most of my knitting time (or tinking, if you want to look at it that way) has been devoted to the current TTL Mystery Shawl.

Listening... to Bear's Den: Islands. "Think of England," a song from that album, was mentioned on a recent Ten on Tuesday list about the tunes on my playlist; I've since been listening to all of their music, and I really like it. A lot. The clip above is more of a "behind the scenes" kind of thing, with some nice glimpses of Scotland, and bits of songs and shows.

Reading... I'm still reading Still Alice.

Sewing... Embellishment of the front of my Alabama Chanin A-line Dress/Tunic continues! I'm at the half-way mark and hope to do a lot of stitching over the weekend.

Watching... (and loving) Justified; we've just begun watching Season 2 on Amazon Prime.

Wearing... my beloved Taos sandals. I slipped on a spill a couple of weeks ago as we left the wedding in Minneapolis and I sort of crumbled, both ankles twisting, and fell hard on my knees. My left ankle and knee fared a bit worse than the right, sore and swollen. The swelling was down enough today that I was able to comfortably slip into those shoes!

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Wondering... what it's like to be so fearless! That's my baby (the one -- the only one -- who's also jumped out of airplanes), at/on McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail. It just makes me want to hug the ground.


Ten on Tuesday: Home

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Love About My Home

We've lived in our home for over 28 years! There are things that I've loved from the beginning (that basically sold the home to me); things that we've improved so that some other feeling has now become love; and there are many things that we just outright created, helping to make our house a home that we truly love.

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1. The front door. I didn't have to do much more than step through that door 28 years ago, take it in along with the oak staircase and the colonnade between the two main living areas on the main floor, and I was in deep, deep love.

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2. The colors. It's sided with wood clapboards and shingles, so there's a lot of upkeep and maintenance, but I sure do love it. The house was light blue with white trim when we bought it, and there were black shutters on all of those windows.

3. New windows! Not all of them... Most of the windows are original with wooden storms/screens that we remove and replace with the seasons (but not all of those, either). There were only a few windows in the house that  had "modern" combination storm windows when we moved in and they were all replaced with new last week. (The three 2nd-story windows in the photo above, among them; they're a different color than the painted ones, but I'm okay with it.)

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4. The garage & driveway. We built the garage from scratch and designed it to match the architecture of the house. We didn't have a driveway or a garage for about the first 10 years we were here.

And sitting on that driveway is my car, on which I made the last payment today! I've already spent a little bundle on some repairs, rather than buying new... fingers crossed that it was the right decision! (No car payment... YAY!)

5. The gardens! Once upon a time, the gardening got a lot more attention around here. The beauty of perennials is that they keep on giving. I learned to love hostas, and one of my favorites is the enormous Blue Angel (on the right in the photo above) (there used to be two, until the gas company dug up half the terrace).

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6. The playhouse. Rusty built it when Kate & Al were little, and we moved it down the hill when we decided to build the garage. Junah's been in there already this summer, but he'll use it much more over the next few.

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7. Our kitchen. One of the things I love most are the reclaimed cupboards. The big one once did duty in the science department of a nearby high school. We had enough height to lift the top off of the base and hang it, leaving room for a counter atop the base. The base has a few drawers, as you can see, as well as four pull-out cutting boards; we use the lower cupboards to hold recycling bins. The smaller one, my "depression glass cupboard" (with one light out) helps to block the view of the sink area from the front door (it's a straight shot!). (I'd like to replace those hot halogen lights with some LED tape.)

8. The hardwood floors. Some are new (-ish), some were uncovered and refinished, and some were always here; there's only one room in the house that is carpeted, and that's our bedroom.

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9. My workroom. It's an organized mess... which is what happens when multiple projects are underway! The paper tube set across the sewing machine are a couple more Alabama Chanin patterns that I just picked up from the blueprint shop (the least expensive place I've found to have large-format prints made... cheap, really... I email the files and pick them up when ready... SO EASY). But I digress (about Alabama Chanin  stuff... what a surprise.)

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10. The deck and pergola. It's very private and I love it! I agree with Katie, though, I think it's time to grow something on it... wisteria?

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Bonus: The top step leading to the playhouse. Maddy was one and "squished" her little fingers into the concrete!


Hellooooo!

It seems so quiet in blogland. Summertime is busy, isn't it? And that's good!

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My Alabama Chanin collection was "pressed" into alternate use last week, as Ali and I regrouped for our run to the finish on a large & overdue joint project. We spent a few good hours together on Wednesday and the end is drawing near... er. There's still a lot to do! Forward.

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I spent almost all of my "free" time last week working on my Alabama Chanin A-line dress. I am embellishing the front of the tunic with embroidery, beads and sequins, and I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. I'm keeping the design/inspiration under wraps for now, but I'm almost half-way as of yesterday, so hopefully it won't be too long before the big reveal.

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I'm using a combo of seed beads (clear & red), chop beads (dark grey & red), bugle beads (dark grey, satin grey & red), and sequins (dark grey & silver).

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I made a beading cuff!

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Here's a peek at one little motif. IRL, that's little more than an inch in diameter.

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It's farmer market season again! That's where you'll find me most Saturday mornings until mid-October (and taking a little nap on after-market Saturday afternoons). This year, Ali is using her portable espresso machine to make "real" lattes and whatnot, and I'm mostly manning the citrus press and making freshly squeezed lemonade. I was called a "lemonade making machine" on Saturday, so I guess I've got it down. Ali's also baking cookies and fresh muffins everyday, including some gluten-free varieties, so we have fresh baked goods, too! It's all a little simpler... and better! As those things go.


Baby Captain America (Romper #2)

There was a lot of sewing during my at-home mini vacation... a lot! Mending, seaming, hemming, embroidery, applique... both by machine and by hand.

I've had another attempt at a romper for Junah on my list (here's the first), and that happened on Monday.

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This time, I used the same old Simplicity pattern (#5049... which I've since acquired in 2 more sizes) mashed up with a modified & upsized Simply Summer Romper, a free pattern (12-mo size) on Craftsy.

The things I love most about that Simplicity pattern are the facings (possibly my most favorite thing), the shoulder snaps, and the 2-piece back.

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The free pattern offered a little guidance with shaping for the one-piece front, and I was excited to try the snap crotch.

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Seven snaps total, top & bottom, are possibly a bit of overkill... haha!

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The fabric came from a thrifted t-shirt.

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Centering the design on the front meant that I was a little short of fabric for the straps. That happened with the giraffe romper, too, but my fix then was quite rushed and haphazard.

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This time, I took the few extra minutes needed to do it symmetrically... and nicely. Top stitching even.

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I also did just a bit of top stitching under the each arm to secure the facings. And, this time, I also hemmed the legs.

Forgetting to make corresponding adjustments to the facing pattern pieces, but not discovering that fault until after cutting, meant that I didn't have enough t-shirt fabric. I dug through my scraps and found some fabrics that corresponded well enough. I quite love how that worked out.

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I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's at least a hundred times better than the last. There's still room for little tweaks & improvement, but I feel like I'm on track.

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Baby Captain America doesn't do windows (unless you like fingerprints!), but he's happy to help sweep the deck!

Also, I'm dying over those shoes...


So, I took a few days off...

I took a couple of days off early this week. With the weekend and my normal day off as bookends, I had a total of 5 days off... most of them at home, often alone... and I'm not sure I can express how wonderful it was!

It was nothing short of GLORIOUS. And also quite productive!

The first day (Saturday) was actually spent mostly in the car -- driving back and forth to Minneapolis with Kate to attend the wedding of one of her high school friends. There was lots of knitting sewing time. (Truth: I don't really enjoy knitting in the car all that much.) (Y'all can kick me out of the club if you want.)

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When I'd snipped the ties on the shibori indigo-dyed onesies, I also snipped into the fabric of one of them! It left a tiny little hole on the front near the shoulder.

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So I fixed that.

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The wedding venue was 514 Studios in downtown Minneapolis. The ceremony, dinner, and reception were all held there... it was an intimate wedding and quite lovely!

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Instead of cake, there was a gorgeous dessert buffet. That "donut"? A "Chocolate O." Brownie base, chocolate glazed chocolate mousse "donut shape," caramel center, and topped with a chocolate disc and gold leaf. It was amazingly light and delicious... as was everything.

It was a long, long day but I'm glad I went along to help with driving. We got home at about 2 a.m. and fell into bed.

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Junah was over for a while on Sunday (or Monday or Tuesday... I really don't remember) while Ali & I regrouped for a project day we planned for Wednesday. That boy is a flash these days, but he stopped for a sec to check out my yarn winder... wearing the repaired onesie and a cute kerchief that his mama made.

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It didn't take him long to figure out how it worked! He came into the house with one shoe on, and left that way; we were all amazed that he never took it off... busybusybusy!

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I started, worked on, discarded and/or finished many projects over the extended weekend. One of those projects was this Ale Asylum Hopalicious tool caddy for my workroom.

Stay tuned.


Mom and Dad

It's a year today since my mom died.

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I miss her everyday... every minute of every single day.

I miss the random phone calls at work: "How do you spell ______________."

Like I'm a dictionary. And I was... for her, on demand.

I miss spending the day together... antique or garden shopping, going out to lunch, checking out this new place or that favorite haunt.

I miss her asking my opinion about things.

I miss asking for her opinion about things.

I miss talking.

I miss cooking with her, helping her prep for a big family meal or a holiday celebration.

I miss everything about her. And I suppose I always will... and that's okay. That's the way it is.

* * * * *

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It was Father's Day on Sunday. We haven't seen or talked to each other in a few years... for various reasons, each our own... but I took a chance and called him on Sunday. We had a nice chat.

"We still have Dad."


Day off doings

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Not on Tuesday's summertime bucket list, but definitely on The List was replacing the dead hibiscus tree by the garage. It was always a late starter/bloomer... and last year it was given up for dead as June, July, August, even September went by without a sign. Then, in early October, someone spotted some green sprouts, but man... that had to be one stressed out tree. Yesterday, we put it out of its misery and replaced it with a flowering pear (which we'll have to keep in check a bit in that location). Anyway, it looks great and nicely matches our color scheme.

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I spent plenty of time in my workroom, cutting & tracing pattern pieces, cutting fabric, and seaming. So far, the center back seam is done, and I was thrilled to employ my new Clover Wonder Clips!

 

And also, the much less expensive Attmu Multi-purpose Craft Clips.

 

These clips are fantastic for a variety of craft purposes, but the main thing for sewing are the markings... I have those clips lined up along the edge of my fabric on the 1/4-inch mark.

The Clover clips are about $16 for 50, and the Attmu are $12 for 100. I used both yesterday and, from my experience, except for the Attmu clips being a bit darker red in color, there is virtually no difference... the Attmu clips' spring may be a tiny bit more stiff. Both brands come in a case, of sorts; the Clover is a rectangular plastic flip-top case (the operation of which took me way too long to figure out), the Attmu is a clear plastic cylindrical container with a screw top.

In the name of research, I now have 150 plastic clips and it's nearly certain that I'll never run out!

 


Why wait?

The summer bucket-filling commences today with the start of an Alabama Chanin A-line Dress!

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I'm making a custom length between tunic and the shorter dress, using a single layer of Alabama Chanin medium-weight organic cotton jersey in a color called "Blue Slate."

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I'll be using black thread to sew it all together.

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If there's one step I'm likely to skip in this process, it's basting the neckline and armholes... but not this time.

I've plans to embellish with embroidery and beading, inspired by some photos that I ran across on the WWW last winter.

Drip, drip, drip...


Ten on Tuesday: A Drop In The Bucket

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On My Summer Bucket List

Oh boy, there are so many things and most of summer still sits before us...

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1. Dyeing. I've quite a few things in mind to throw into the indigo vat. I'll be doing a dye day with my sister and nephews one of these days, too.

2. Sewing. An Alabama Chanin A-Line Tunic is going to get underway tomorrow, I hope. I have plans to embellish! I have already begun making the pattern for another tunic, and want to make & refine at least one more square-neck. In addition to some lovely fabric, I've an overflowing bin of t-shirts and scraps to play around with -- making things for Junah is in mind for some (but definitely not all) of that.

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TTL Mystery Shawl 2015 at completion of Clue #1.

3. Knitting. I'm currently working on (and enthralled by) Kirsten Kapur's TTL Mystery Shawl 2015; I will most certainly finish it this summer. I'd also like to finish my Prickly Poppy cardigan (it's slow going, but it's going) and Sophie's Rose Shawlette (it got stuck on a zipper pull in my knitting bag... I am afraid to look).

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4. Day-tripping... a visit to Door County will be coming up sometime this summer; it may wait just long enough 'til those blossoms are ready-to-pick cherries! I haven't actually gone cherry picking since I was in about 6th grade.

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5. Baseball! I've already been to one Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game for Stitch 'n Pitch, there's a company picnic coming up in August, and we're working on a family outing next month!

6. Cycling. I really want -- and need -- to get on my bike and ride for more than a mile at a time! We'll miss the Door County ride/beer festival out of Baileys Harbor this weekend, but plan to do the fall ride out of Sister Bay again later this summer.

7. Cooking. I've been trying some new recipes lately, with inspiration from the Whole30Recipes Instagram feed... and I'd like to continue that!

8. Tidying. Life has been busy, but I need to get back to the life-changing magic!

9. Reading. I've printed off a Bingo card, but expect it will last me far longer than the summer. I'm really looking forward to some of those squares! Currently on my nightstand is The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, which I am enjoying quite a lot, but may have to take a break to read Still Alice by Lisa Genova for book club!

10. Time off-ing. I've arranged a couple of extra days off next week, to start... I am SO looking forward to it, and to using that time to accomplish some of the above!


Giraffe Romper for Junebug

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Stop! Stay back, yoga mat!

Every once in a while a company called Artsonia sends me a notification that one of my nephews has had new artwork from school uploaded on their site. It's always fun to see the boys' projects and I am able to order their artwork printed on all sorts of items, from mouse pads and coffee mugs to tote bags and t-shirts.

Until now, I've appreciated their creations but never ordered anything. Then, a few weeks ago, I received notice of this:

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...and my heart skipped a beat. First of all, ADDISON! Second of all, GIRAFFE!! And third of all, HAVE YOU EVER IN YOUR LIFE???

I immediately ordered as large a t-shirt as I could, with the idea of refashioning it and making something romper for Junah. Unfortunately, I was so excited that I didn't read the full description of the shirts and ended up with a shirt made of 100% polyester instead of 100% cotton.

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Going in head-first, I pulled out this old pattern that was Mom's... I'm not sure why I have it (and just a couple of others), but I do. I knew I was in for it right away because the pattern has two pieces for both front and back, with shaping for the legs, and I wanted the front to be all one piece. Without thinking too hard, I made some adjustments that I thought would compensate.

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I muddled my way through and posted the "finished" photo above to Instagram.

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The original photo shows that I hilariously cropped both the messy top part and the terribly wonky bottom/crotch area in that photo. I wasn't too broken up... because polyester shirt. I was (and continue to be) all about THAT AMAZING GIRAFFE! If the romper didn't work out, I'd reclaim the giraffe and put it in a frame.

Experimental as it was, it would still be nice if Junah could wear it! I did a little after-the-fact research and concluded that some sort of gusset was in order. The seam ripper appeared & fixing commenced:

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I had done some weird cutting and couldn't come back from that. I also had no idea how it was even going to fit him so I just did some stitching instead of hemming. The whole thing was sewn on the machine using a stretch stitch and Maxi-Lock thread.

It's not going to win any prizes, but it turned out pretty cute overall. I know what to do to fix it next time (and also found some patterns more in line with what I'm trying to do)...

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And seriously, how cute is he?

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Ali said that he had a big cloth diaper & cover on and there was still plenty of room; it bunched up a little around his diaper from sitting/standing, but it wasn't pulling anywhere.

It was a great learning exercise. The next one will be a bit more refined, and there will likely be a few more after that!!