100 Days

100days

I think it was official on Wednesday, but I still had a reminder on my calendar yesterday for 100 (+/-) days of stitching!

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Two finished sleeves and current state of back panel underway.

Back in April, I'd committed to at least :15 of sewing each day on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket! I think I stitched on about 95 days, and a few of those days were spent on the A-line re-do, and there were just a few when I didn't stitch at all -- two or three at most. Most of it was documented on Instagram: #100daysknitorious2019

There were quite a few days when I worked significantly longer than :15, but even conservatively, I've stitched for a total of 25+ hours since April, mostly on my jacket!

All in all, I consider it a wild success!

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Same general area on each sleeve and the design choices that make them the same but different!

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Ditto! This is the June's Spring stencil.

I have two sleeves completely done and the start of a body part (with three more in the wings, plus a collar, two pockets, pocket flaps -- just keeping things in perspective). There is WAY more done now than I had 100 or 101 or 102 days ago!

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I am looking forward to continuing the process with almost as much diligence. Part of the problem is that it's sort of monopolizing the main portion of my work area and there are other things that I need/want to get done. The trick is to put it away, but not so far away that I forget about it or it's too much of a chore to regroup.

A good workroom clean-out would probably help overall! Well, except for a shopping trip, I have a fairly clear weekend ahead...

Have a great weekend, everyone!!


Macro Monday: 1st of July!

I can hardly believe it's July! Now's the time that summer feels like it might be slipping away, especially because we've hardly had any summer weather to enjoy... so.much.rain.

It certainly was summertime hot & humid over the weekend, with more of that in the forecast (along with more rain).

I've whittled the Macro Monday photos for today down from 10 (that I processed) to four:

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There's a small stack of shells on one of the pergola benches... randomly stacked by one of the kiddos (I'm guessing Gin) and it's been undisturbed for days. I love the subtle colors!

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Our young-ish catalpa trees are LOADED with flowers this year!!

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And there are plenty of buds yet to open. So pretty.

So, naturally, our Airbnb guests arrived early on Friday and we were last on the list for appliance delivery... so that was less than ideal. The appliance guys arrived about :20 after the guests, but they were really great and the whole process went SUPER smooth! Had our guests arrived at regular check-in time, I'd have just been finishing up... just as I'd mentioned in my heads-up note to them. I'm really happy with the new fridge!

The thrift shop hop in Green Bay was fun on Saturday. Kate made a pretty good haul; I bought a pair of wine glasses and some sewing needles. Obviously, lunch was the highlight for me! We checked out Copper State Brewing Co., which is related to Copper Rock Coffee Co. located in Appleton. Kate had some pork tacos with a lager, I had a burger with an IPA and a half. I caught whiff of a hamburger on the way in and couldn't shake it...

I finished my Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic re-do! I found a back-side photo from June 2017 when I finished (the first time) to compare:

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The difference in stitching is plain to see! I've popped it in the wash to even it all out (the equivalent of blocking knits). (Obviously, red is my preferred color for toenails!)

I did some #100daysknitorious2019 stitching on my Car Jacket, and also started some projects for the kids. By that, I mean that I mostly printed and taped and cut patterns pieces (so time consuming!). I'm making matching dresses for Ginny & Malina and a coordinating vest for Junah. I'm using some "Nana" fabric... a white embroidered cotton that were originally cafe curtains that my mom had made for the coffee shop (skirts of the dresses and body of the vest), and a floral Ralph Lauren sheet that was a favorite of my mom's (flutter sleeves, straps & bands on the dresses, welts & possibly facings on the vest & bow tie). We've been wanting to make something from that curtain fabric for a couple of years now, so finally... but it really needs stabilizing. I've ordered some fusible stuff and keep your fingers crossed that it's shipped sooner rather than later because just minutes after I did that, Ali sent me a message about a photo shoot for the kids on July 8th and it would be SO GREAT to have these projects finished. I could get away with adding another layer to the dresses, and maybe even to the vest... we'll see. I have a couple of days to think on it all.


Unraveled Wednesday: "Knitting the fabric of America!"

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today!

Um... this just in:

WOW!!! This is so great! All the love for Colbert...

KNITTING:

I haven't been doing much actual knitting, but I am working on a pair of socks... it's even Christmas knitting!

READING:

I am still listening to to Lincoln in the Bardo... I'm enjoying it the second time around, though not a lot of listening is happening.

The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland is on my nightstand.

 

This book was a gift from Kate a while back and I've finally made it a priority -- so glad I did. It's loaded with photos and the stories are fascinating.

SEWING:

I have continued my 100-day project, though I did veer from the Car Jacket to work on fixing another project:

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This is an Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic that I finished two years ago (it made it's debut at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona!). The Alabama Chanin A-line is my favorite shape -- it's incredibly flattering -- and I love this tunic... except for the areas where I used gray thread instead of black. I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it's too contrast-y (to me). Every time I'd see it in my closet, I'd think, "Oh, I love that top... but I hate that contrast-y stitching." So I finally decided to do something about it!

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It's not easy, given that it has been worn and washed a few times already, but I can't wait to wear it again! I've done the small flower at the shoulder and I think, for now, I'm going to finish that area and just re-do the smaller elements at the top of the big flower on the lower-left -- that might be just enough! I can always re-do some more.


39 of 100

It's Day 39 of #the100dayproject!

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There's a random selection of images from the previous couple of weeks or so. I've finished Sleeve #1 and am currently doing the embroidery & appliqué on Sleeve #2. I've already done a little beading, but the majority of it will be done last.

It's been a couple of weeks, people! It started with An Evening with David Sedaris, followed by a day off and getting the Airbnb ready, CPR/AED/First-Aid & Blood-borne Pathogens training, a couple of meetings, a birthday, an art opening/overnight at the lakeshore, a Make.Do pop-up shop at my LYS, a new furnace installation, another meeting, a first ballet class, another event... plus, I worked all five days this week.

I AM READY FOR THE WEEKEND!!

There is plenty happening/to do, but I'm looking forward to Momosa Day and brunch at 313 Dodge with Ali, her bff Abbey, and Abbey's mom Ellen -- one of our favorite mother-daughter duos!

I'm only a tiny bit sad that I forgot about Macro May and #memademay, but #100daysknitorious2019 is plenty. I don't need any more on my plate right now (I'm delighted that I recognize that!). Maybe I'll do Macro September or October, instead.


Unraveled Wednesday: On the Eighth Day

...she kept on sewing.

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SEWING:

The main event right now is my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket project, and the minimum :15 stitching time that I've committed to for #the100dayproject. Yesterday was my 8th day of stitching and I am so happy with the progress I've made.

Day 1, April 2nd, picking up where I left off some time back:

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Day 7, April 8th:

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There's been applique, cutting, embroidery, and beading!

And this is what I accomplished yesterday, on the 8th day of stitching:

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And what I've accomplished along the way:

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Of course, 15 minutes each day is just long enough to get situated, to decide what I'm going to work on, to love my thread, to needle my thread, and to take a couple of stitches! But even only :15 each day for 100 days would equal 25 HOURS. On every day but one, I think, I've worked for at least twice that amount of time. It's a process and it's slow, but consistency is the key... and I am loving it! Again!!

READING:

I finally started listening to Daisy Jones & The Six! It has a cast, which I love (and was one of the things I enjoyed most about Lincoln in the Bardo). Jennifer Beals is Daisy, and Benjamin Bratt & Pablo Schreiber are brothers & bandmates and they are excellent. I'm only a few chapters in and I can't wait for more... I was a little mad that my bookmark got screwed up and I couldn't listen in the car this morning. I fixed that now, so I'm all set for later...

KNITTING:

I'm still working on Ginny's Rye socks. I just knit the heel flap of the second sock, so getting there!

Pop over to see what Kat & the Unravelers are sharing today!


13

Speaking of found things, particularly money...

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Spot the $20 bill!

I have a couple of tins in which I keep my traveling sewing supplies -- various types of needles, thread, scissors, thimbles -- and at the bottom of one is a $20 bill. It's been there for a long time -- a few years -- and I can't recall why I put it there in the first place, but I keep forgetting about it and am surprised when I find it again... every.single.time. I doubt I'd even remember it was there if I was ever so desperate!!

Oh, Alabama!! It was a year ago that Kym & I were at the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop -- I've been seeing FB reminders of that very fun trip. My "I Got Swamped" pin from Judy Hood's Swampette Tour is peeking from under some scissors in the top tin. I wish I was further along on my Car Jacket, but it's been out on my work table and I've definitely been thinking about it... even making a stitch now and then. *sigh*


Obsessed?

Maybe.

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I cut a wedge at each underarm last night and sewed them back up.

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It isn't perfect but oh, man, what an improvement! The sleeves "feel" better and there's a lot less bulk. I may have cut just a wee bit more than ideal, but this is all totally off the cuff and, given that, I'm thrilled.

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I wore t-shirts a lot back in the day (these days, not so much), and ALWAYS with a cuffed sleeve.

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Those original gigantic sleeves were a challenge, but the new version works great!

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I also felled/embellished the seam. I chose Laced Double Straight Stitch in two colors from Natalie Chanin's The Geometry of Hand-Sewing -- it reminded me of "sound waves," and that was just about perfect for this project. If I were to do this again, I'd consider switching the colors (LEARNING THINGS)!

And now I want to add SIDE POCKETS! It's practically screaming for them, don't you think?


Mojo rising

It's not skyrocketing, but I'm feeling a bit more "with it" and energetic!

I spent a few hours on both Saturday & Sunday mornings in the upstairs apartment, mainly here:

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I took a "before" photo, too, but you'd have to look real hard to see the difference. I asked myself why I would pay someone to clean my arguably less icky bathroom/house but tackle this myself and the best answer I could come up with is that I didn't have to move stuff in order to do it. It was "cleaned out" even if it wasn't exactly hitting the "clean" standard I'd have liked. Anyway, it's fine and coming along, and I do take great satisfaction in doing a good job. (Thanks, Mom!)

Had I not made a thousand trips in/out the back door and up/down the outside stairs, I might not have noticed the extraordinary number of "bees" flying around. I don't know exactly what variety of flying things they are, but having discovered that they're flying in and out of MY HOUSE -- they gotta go! Meanwhile, apparently more aware, I found another spot with a ton of activity and... NO THANK YOU! The guy at the hardware store told me that I could totally take care of that myself and gave me some stuff. As I was reading the label/directions last night, it was all about fleas & ticks... not a single mention of anything "bee-like." Um. No. I took that as my sign to call a pro!

Ali brought the baby over after the market. I haven't had her all to myself in a while!

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We took a recliner nap together.

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A little while later, we were playing on the floor and I thought I'd roll her over for a bit of tummy time... and she zonked out! It was only for a few minutes, but long enough to do a row or two on my mystery shawl. (I'm more than half-way on the final border section, then it'll be fancy bind-off time.)

When Ali came to get Malina, she had Junah along.

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We went out for burgers & fries, walking over to the video store afterward, where he found these awesome Groot sunglasses (also a mouthful of gumball).

In the mode (and also, clean begets clean), I spent a little time on Sunday cleaning up & organizing my workroom, and then I sat down to tackle a little project that's been on my mind for a month.

I'd spotted a perfect-for-the-venue dress at a local outdoor music event, and Kinneared a photo:

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I eventually spoke with her -- I couldn't let her get away without asking about that dress! No, she said, she didn't make it... bought it in Texas or someplace. Well, I knew that someone sure as heck made that dress -- and I was sure gonna try!

I had already pawed through the stash and found a couple of likely suspects for such a garment, then ordered same size/brand coordinating t-shirts; they arrived on Saturday and I threw it all into the washer so it would all be ready when I was.

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My original thought was to sew together my Frankendress by machine, but then I realized what I was doing! I bought this shirt last November when I was in Florence, AL, with Kym for the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop! One of my favorite "extras" on that trip was Judy Hood's Swampette Tour of Muscle Shoals music venues, and I bought the shirt at FAME Studios. It seemed sacrilegious to put it under the presser foot -- it had to be sewn by hand!

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I've since pressed that seam and it looks much better. I will eventually fell & embellish it; I found the perfect stitch in The Geometry of Hand-Sewing. AND I will cut/re-size those sleeves. Holy moly. Mine's a little more oversized than the model, but I love the super-relaxed fit, otherwise!

I hope you had a great weekend!


Alabama Chanin "La Sagrada Familia" Swing Skirt

...or What I Did Over The Weekend!

First of all, it was 100°F or darn close to it all three days, so I didn't spend a lot of time outside.

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To quickly recap the weekend: Ali & her family came over on Saturday night for a send-off barbecue for Maddy, who left for her summer camp job on Sunday morning. I'm not sure when we'll see Maddy next -- maybe July 4th-ish? And probably briefly before she heads to Oregon in late summer/early fall. Thankfully, she's found housing out there for the vintage season, so that's settled.

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And she did a great job repainting the back porch -- ceiling, pillars, railing, window trim, and floor -- before she left!

Kate was away with friends for the weekend, returning Sunday evening. We moved the last load from the apartment into the storage unit that she's sharing with Maddy. And we bade her farewell on Monday morning as she began the drive to NYC/Brooklyn to install her curated show CONVEYOR for Greenpoint Open Studios this weekend; I'll meet up with her there on Thursday. She's still heading to the UK when she returns, but there have been and continue to be Changes and unchanges and rechanges... and stay tuned (because it's un-/re-/changing almost daily at this point!)

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Kate's plants have come to live with us for a while!! It's like a jungle in there. 

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OK. My main event of the weekend turned out to be finishing the Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt that I started last week!

I've been wearing the original more and more, and had been wanting to make another one for quite a while. My original thought was to try using one (or more) of the souvenir t-shirts I've picked up in the last year or so -- House of Blues (St. Louis), Country Music Hall of Fame (Nashville), FAME (Muscle Shoals) are vaguely what I had in mind. What caught my eye was a shirt from La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona! I'd never thought of it in terms of a skirt before, but it was obviously dying to be one.

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Naturally, I didn't take a "before" photo, but that's basically the front of the shirt on one of the skirt's front panels, and the back became the other front panel. I always buy the largest size that I can, but this one wasn't very big and it was an off-center design, so I made the most of it -- you can see that I left the hem intact. For embellishment, I've only embroidered around the outline of the cathedral's towers using black thread.

I found a gray men's 2X long-sleeve t-shirt in the stash (yes! there's a t-shirt stash) to use for the bottom layer (that Barcelona shirt being slightly lighter in weight than I prefer and, also, I'm just a bit more comfortable with two layers). I cut the front skirt panels from the front of the shirt and the sleeves were shaped almost perfectly but just a tad too short (due to armhole shaping) to be the other two panels... it was oh so close! I decided to do some piecing and make it work!

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I basically made a yoke using remaining fabric from the front & back. Another black t-shirt from the stash was cut for the top layer and I suppose I could have left that piece intact, but decided to stitch & cut to expose my Frankenstein work!

Then I had the bright idea to add side seam pockets! I love pockets, don't you? I used the pair of pants I was wearing to get the placement right.

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I got a little tripped up because of "felling" the pocket seams, and ended up felling an entire side seam to the front of the skirt because of the way the pocket was inserted (ideally, seams should be felled to the back). I wasn't gonna let that bother me.

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After the pockets & seams were sewn and felled, it was time for waistband elastic! I really love Alabama Chanin's fold-over elastic, which I attached with a nice stretchy herringbone stitch. I used the same method on my first Swing Skirt.

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Voila! It's a skirt!

On Monday morning, I realized (again, for the nth time in almost 60 years) that as much as I really do love a nice side-seam pocket, it definitely does not love me/my figure in a garment such as this.

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So I took them out! It was not as painful as it sounds -- one nice thing about hand stitching is that the stitches are BIG, and I didn't even have to rip the entire seam. Once the seams were re-sewn and properly felled (to the back!), I was much happier with the fit.

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And I'm wearing it today!!

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Oh yeah, I gave myself a pedi yesterday for the first time in forever!

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A favorite detail is this patch that was stitched to the front of the original t-shirt -- with all the threads hanging out, just like that -- and I just had to keep it! I love this skirt and will certainly be making more.

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You can learn to make your own Swing Skirt from Natalie Chanin herself on Craftsy:

The Swing Skirt: Techniques & Construction

Natalie currently has two other courses available on Craftsy: The New Embroidery: Simple Geometry, Beautiful Stitches and Creative Embellishments. And she's a fabulous teacher!


3TT:

Joining Carole and friends again this week for Three on Thursday...

Thing 1:

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My Parallelogram Scarf has grown a bit since yesterday (so much brighter!), due to...

Thing 2:

...evening attendance at our friend Pat's 2018 Film Festival! Looking for a way to get through the doldrums of winter and inspired by her sister-in-law's massive movie collection, this is Pat's 5th festival. Usually on Wednesdays, and with a total of around 40 altogether, four or five films are shown each festival day beginning at noon, with :15 breaks between. There is a theme each year -- 2014-John Cusack as lead actor, 2015-Edith Head as costume designer, 2016-Food, 2017-Classic Novels made into Movies -- and this year, it's Steamy, Hot, Summer - Heated Up! There's a healthy mix of genres and nationalities, and festival-goers come and go as they may. It's all about Pat, really; she's just generous enough to send out invitations to her friends.

Wednesday is normally my day off, so you'd think this would be easy, but no... I've hardly been able to attend at all (also, they lived about 20 miles away in 2014-15). And I worked yesterday... however, the last movie on the program, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, has long been on my list and wasn't due to start until 5:55pm! Rusty and I arrived just as the previous movie ended, with enough time for a bit of socializing over a bowl of soup before showtime. It was wonderful (the company, the soup, and the movie)!

Thing 3:

Here we go!

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I had a free :15 yesterday, so began my DAILY STITCHING, inspired by Margene (also as mentioned yesterday). It's a new thing (for me), and I'm not going to get too crazed about it, but I got myself situated and it felt so good to get started, finally, on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket!

Finally.


Wrap it up - the Alabama lowdown

For over a year, I waited -- anticipated -- attending the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop in November. I'd signed up almost immediately when it was announced, and it wasn't long before Kym decided to join me.

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We met at the airport in Nashville and drove to Florence, AL, home of Alabama Chanin.

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We settled into our comfy Airbnb, found a place for dinner, and awaited Workshop Day #1.

It was pretty great. Each of the participants (9 of us) had our own work table with basic supplies and materials. The clothing racks beyond held simple, unembellished examples of every DIY garment in every size for trying on. I was a bit smitten with the collection of chairs -- those shown here, as well as throughout The Factory & Cafe -- as I've been something of a collector myself (to the point that Rusty called a moratorium on chairs some years ago)!

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In addition, there were other garment racks, which I've shown before, that held embellished pieces in various colors & designs, which we could also try on.

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"The Factory" is just that. Located in a large factory/warehouse type building, one very large space is divvied up with partial walls/partitions and curtains into spaces for retail, cafe, office, shipping, social media, design, fabric handling, stenciling, cutting, sewing, production, etc. Pretty much everyone, perhaps with the exception of some cafe staff, is at least knowledgeable -- but most likely has also performed -- every process/task/job within the company. It's pretty incredible, really. Natalie Chanin has employed some of the principles of Zingerman's Community of Businesses in the development of her own Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses, which include The School of Making, The Factory Cafe and Store, and Bldg. 14.

I could go to work in that factory everyday!

On that first day, we went over design possibilities, toured the factory, tried on garments, pored over swatch books, and each made decisions about the garment we wanted to make.

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I chose the Car Jacket, with the June's Spring stencil design.

We also had lunch at the Factory Cafe.

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I just had to have a Pimento Cheese sandwich!

And then I took about a million pictures of the June's Spring section of the swatch books!

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Those are all the same design, worked in different colors and in different/similar ways... all serving to blow my mind!

And then I took about a million more pictures of the exact same thing.

And also the next day. And again the day after that.

I could have spent three full days just looking at those swatch books, to be honest.

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I mean, look at that!!

With our orders being processed, we had a little free time before meeting up with the other participants for a local tour and dinner. Kym and I decided we had just enough time to dash out for a visit to The Wall, aka, Tom Hendrix's Wall, aka Te-lah-nay's Wall.

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It's an incredible place, with an incredible story.

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Peaceful, beautiful, contemplative, surprising.

We could have spent a lot more time there, too, but I'm thankful we were able to find the time to visit at all. We went back to Florence and met our group at The Shoals Gold Record Room to board a trolley and go on a Swampette Tour of FAME and Muscle Shoals studios.

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I had been looking forward to that for a while, having even made a special playlist way back in August, and it was truly fantastic -- everyone enjoyed it and most weren't music nerds! Our tour guide was Judy Hood, a Swampette by virtue of having married one David Hood, bass player and original member of The Swampers, and true enthusiast of music*, the history of the music and these studios in The Shoals, community, preservation, and more. She was a delight!

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Workshop Days 2 & 3 were spent exploring and learning more about garment construction and techniques. We had some lovely meals at The Factory Cafe (breakfast+lunch, brunch), and met Natalie; we had front-row seats at a talk/presentation she gave about the company's history. Everyone we met during the workshop was really wonderful -- Olivia, Maggie, Erin, Corey, Leslie, Bonnie, Diane (to name a few). Oh, to return someday... I still dream about the week-long workshops (either one, or both)!

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On Sunday, Kym & I drove back to Nashville and another lovely Airbnb, first stopping to take photos of a cotton field. I had never seen anything like it before, though, if you cover the bottom part of that photo with your hand, it looks an awful lot like the snow-covered farm fields with which I am familiar!

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We stopped at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens on the way for a much-needed walk & nature break, and it was simply gorgeous.

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I was more than a little intrigued by at least parts of these pique assiette mosaic pieces (the term for which I learned just now -- who knew?).

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It was certainly not the most beautiful time of year to visit a garden, but it was far from ugly; I don't think there's ever an "ugly" season in a well-designed garden. They were just beginning to ready their holiday displays, so we even got a little peek at some of the lighted garden features (which were pretty cool even in afternoon light).

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I winged my way home and have barely had a chance to catch my breath since... Ali's shop remodel started the very next day, I'm trying to help with the kids as much as I can, Thanksgiving came & went, there was an ill-timed but previously planned (and much enjoyed) trip to Saint Louis, holiday party season is upon us, and Christmas is... what? 18 days away? Will I get my tree up???

I truly enjoyed every minute of that trip. I caught my breath only once at the beginning, when I realized that I'd be spending nearly a week with a woman that I'd previously met for lunch and a beer and to look at some art for a couple of hours, but we couldn't have gotten along better, and it was fun getting to know more about each other.

I've barely had time to even look at my Car Jacket project... ideas are percolating, and it'll be there when I'm ready!

*except rap. She told us that Dr. Dre/Beats Electronics is a supporter of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and that, as a grateful member of the board, she supposed she should learn to like it! More than a few of us suggested that Hamilton would be a good place to start!  ;)


In a Bubble / 17

I know that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.

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And Christmas fast approaching.

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I've watched since the trimmings of the season began edging out school supplies.

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And yet, I'm constantly doing a double-take when I see actual lights, decorations & full-on displays. I'm not ready for all the holiday hubbub.

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I feel as though I'm in a bit of a bubble... an Alabama bubble!

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Happy much? (Thanks for the photo, Kym!)

There's so much other stuff going on, even besides the holidays... but all I really want to do is clear off my work table and start sewing!

I would begin with an intense poring-over of Natalie Chanin's new book, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing, which I haven't had time to do yet, though I have been using it with great success to practice my "feather stitch" technique on my sampler.

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I'd pre-ordered my copy and picked it up at the workshop. We met with Natalie on Saturday, and she signed it for me... with a little laugh!

It's an incredible book with detailed instructions for working the stitches from either left-to-right or right-to-left, photos & diagrams --  including photos of the back of the work! -- and two die-cut plastic stitching cards/templates with various grids. Genius.

Though my Grandma Koenig had passed long before I picked up a needle, my mother would channel her, always asking to see the back of my project, intoning, "The back should be as neat as the front!"

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They practice what they preach over there at Alabama Chanin! Those are shots of the back & front of approximately the same area of a piece from a sample book.

If you're interested in learning more about this type of work, Natalie & The School of Making have a new class on Craftsy (with, I'm told, more to come!) -- The Swing Skirt: Techniques & Construction.


/ 11

This how my worktable looked at the beginning of Friday:

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Fairly neat and orderly.

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My project kit was the last to arrive, partly because I chose an obscure paint color for my stencil, but mostly because the Production Team at Alabama Chanin made sure it was perfect before presenting it to me; in particular, Corey, who mixed the paint and did the stenciling, worked the most amazing magic!

Inspiration is everywhere at Alabama Chanin, from the iconic sign...

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...to the bathroom decor.

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By the end of the day, my worktable looked like this (the neatened up version):

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I am working out a few things on a swatch that is in my actual pattern & colors.

Tomorrow is another day -- sadly, the last workshop day! The time is flying by and we are having a wonderful time!


Catch & Release: The Wisconsin Blingfish / 8

As this goes live, I'm winging my way to meet Kym in Nashville! We will hop into a rented car and drive to Florence, Alabama, for a long-anticipated 3-Day Workshop at Alabama Chanin! We've been planning this trip for well over a year, and... SO EXCITED!

I've been on my Alabama Chanin journey for a while now, and thought today would be a good time to share the story of one of my recent (unusual and crazy-fun) projects:

THE WISCONSIN BLINGFISH

Kay Gardiner, aka Mason-Dixon Kay, began working on her "newest oldest" sewing project, the Alabama Chanin Flag Quilt, on July 4th. It's a spectacular piece! It's also a bit overwhelming, even as a pre-cut and pre-stenciled kit.

After a week of immersion sewing, Kay was considering ideas to infuse her quilt with some personal style... by changing some of the thread & fabric colors, by adding embellishments, and by somehow involving friends.

I've "known" Kay for about as long as we've all been blogging. We met in person at Rhinebeck 2006, I think, and then again 10 years later. In between, we've chatted a little bit via Instagram & blog comments about knitting, of course, also about other projects & the kids & family & events, and quite a bit about Alabama Chanin projects these past few years. I was delighted when she asked if I'd be game to stitch a block of her quilt.

Um, YEAH!!

Bling-optional

She sent her "Wisconsin Fish," along with a spool of thread, and a small bag of iridescent semi-dimensional sequins marked "bling (optional)" -- which, HELLO, were never considered "optional" for even a second.

BRING THE BLING!

I immediately pulled out my own collection of sparkles to see how it all might work together -- adding a variety of seed beads, bugle beads, and more sequins to the mix!

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SEQUINS THIS WAY?

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SEQUINS THAT WAY?

Everything was kept quite secure with Wonder Clips, of course!

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THE PLAN FOR BUGLE BEADS WAS IMMEDIATELY CLEAR.

Eventually I did a little sewing. And some cutting... periodically laying out beads & sequins to see if I still liked them this way, that way, or another way.

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My daughter Kate was starting her new job at the time, but frequently stopping home, and every time I'd call out, "Come and see my fish!" I'd show her what I'd done and run through ideas...

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I started off with mostly reverse applique, running stitch, knots on the back; with some beading and a little bit of satin stitch with embroidery floss. (FYI: satin stitch is harder than it looks!)

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The sequins, though! It was obvious to me that they needed to be fish scales... but how? My only experience with sequins was on my Catamount Tunic, and the inspiration for that project made it pretty simple & straightforward.

Obviously, I needed to expand my sequins knowledge, and my treasure trove of sequins inspo for this project turned out to be "sewing for belly dancers."

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I used a combo of sequins and sewed them on in rows to make scales.

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Initially, the rows were too far apart, so I filled in, and continued in a more dense pattern. I'm sure that looks tedious to some, but I really had fun doing it! Perhaps, as Kay says, we "have a skewed sense of what is fun..."

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It was fun to figure out the little details as I went along... filling in bare "scale" spots with plain sequins; using red beads for the eye, outlining it with some metallic thread. I love the dimension and bit of sparkle and shine.

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I wanted some "lines" for the fish tail, so pulled out some more embroidery floss and sewed in some random sequins.

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I used only sequins -- fairly sparse -- for the belly (just beginning, above).

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I stitched "lines," too, for some of the other fins -- with and without sequins.

I had originally thought of using the metallic thread to work satin stitch the dorsal, pelvic & anal fins (*bling*)...

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... but holy cow, each of those things separately -- satin stitch & working with metallic thread -- is challenging enough! Instead, I used the metallic thread to back-stitch the outlines of the fins and sparsely fill in with running stitch.

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Finally, I signed my work.

Then I had to photograph it and send it back to Kay!

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Catch & Release... The One That Got Away... Some Fish... the Wisconsin Blingfish!!

I can't wait to see the whole quilt come together!!


Right Now: November - AC Style / 3

BREAKING NEWS...

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They were firing up equipment as I left for work this morning; Rusty sent this photo a little while later. (That's my house with the bunting still hanging.)

Anticipating... So much good stuff!

  1. New refrigerator delivery on Saturday (finally!) (y'all will be so happy when this is not.a.thing anymore)
  2. Hamilton on Sunday (matinee) with Maddy and her BFF Katy, followed by dinner at The Dearborn
  3. My 59th birthday on Monday (!!)
  4. A long-awaited vacation that begins on Wednesday:
    1. To Florence, AL, for a 3-Day Alabama Chanin Workshop
    2. Along with my first visit to Nashville, TN
    3. All with KYM!!!

Looking forward to... OMG. Alabama! The Factory! Muscle Shoals! Finally!!

I've long dreamed of attending an Alabama Chanin week-long workshop(s), but it just wasn't ever going to fit in financially or time-wise, so when the 3-day version was introduced last year... I pounced. I signed up practically the minute it was announced in September! Bonus: it was happening right around my birthday. Happy Birthday To Me!!

It wasn't long before Kym decided to join me... and the Airbnb booked by the first week of October! EXCITED MUCH?? I'd have booked travel then, too, but it was too early. I did put a reminder on my calendar about it, though.

Sewing... something EPIC as soon as I get to Alabama! I'm thinking Coat, but reserving final decision until we're actually there. We get to try on garments and see examples of finishing techniques. It's all certain to be incredibly inspiring... hopefully, not to overwhelming. I'm counting on experienced hands to guide us...

Listening... Hamilton soundtrack & and my "Alabama" playlists!

Wondering... What's up with you right now!?


Sing along!

I'm still reading the same books and knitting the same shawl. Next week I may have something new to share on those fronts! Today, let's talk about something else.

I subscribe to Spotify and frequently listen to music, but almost always to other people's playlists or to particular artists/songs/albums. Kate is always making playlists and I am thankful to her for bringing new artists to my attention and helping stretch my musical wings!

Anyway, the other day I was reading more about the upcoming workshop at Alabama Chanin -- particularly learning more about the included Swampette Tour -- and it finally sunk in. I mean, I've been aware of Muscle Shoals and its musical importance for a very long time and I know that Muscle Shoals is right there, but... Wow! We are really gonna be in it!!

I was inspired to create a playlist!

I'm still curating and organizing, but am so loving it; appropriately leading off with "A Feather's Not A Bird" by Rosanne Cash, which also supplied the playlist's perfect title: I'm Goin' Down to Florence.

Also, I will soon be re-watching the documentary Muscle Shoals!


Sew, the weekend...

Actually, it's more like "Sew, the month..." as I haven't done anything but sew since I finished knitting my Colorwash Shawl!

First it was the Tom Petty Corset; all put together and awaiting binding (and the loss of a few pounds)!

I still wanted a Corset, though, and found some Batman t-shirts on clearance at Macy's. I love the fabric, but the design of these things is hiddy:

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I'd already chopped & sliced that one up, but yuck. I had an XL and an XXL, the backs gave me enough fabric for the body and there was more than enough on the fronts to cut binding.

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It's a little bit wonky. The fabric is 100% cotton, but much finer and lighter in weight than I'm used to -- medium weight is what I usually order from Alabama Chanin, often heavy weight in the thrifted t-shirts.

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Knitorious_Alabama-Chanin_24

I checked a couple of times to verify that it was 100% cotton and not some combo with bamboo or something. It was slippery, more difficult to control, and it took a while to get it all sewn up. I like it well enough, though!

Since then, I've been working on the Alabama Chanin Magdalena A-line that I'd begun a year ago, in the hopes that perhaps I'd finish in time to bring it along on vacation. But first...

I "fixed" some sleepwear that I also want to take.

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The heavy embroidered design was replaced with this:

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It's a little swatch from when I was contemplating ideas for Catamount. I'm so glad to have found a use for it! That one little sequin makes me inordinately happy.

And voila! I finished all the seaming of the A-line on Saturday night, so yesterday was all about binding.

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That dress form isn't anywhere near my size, but you get an idea.

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Cretin stitch... always a bit of a challenge for me, but I think I'm getting better!

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Originally, I'd stenciled pieces for the back, too, but I've left the back a single layer and plain for a number of reasons... besides time. One is that the technique used on the front is "lighter" than some. Another is that I'd placed the stencil on all four pieces in almost exactly the same manner, and have decided that I'd prefer some variation. I'm hoping to use those other pieces to make something for Gin!

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Anyway, here it is. I used a couple of different colors of thread for the sewing. The cutting (negative reverse applique) was CRAZY INTENSE with all those knots & tails on the outside, but I don't think I accidentally snipped short a single one of those tails!

It's crunch time now!! One more sleep at home, another sleep on the plane, and then our first stop: Dublin!


Day off

Yesterday was my usual day off of work, and I decided to do a literal interpretation for a change. No dentist appointments, no banking or bill-paying, no grocery shopping, no dusting, no, nothing, nada.

I didn't get dressed until noon -- and, really, only then because there'd already been two delivery men at the door, and also because I'd be warmer. It was overcast and cool outside and... well, just not the kind of day that energizes me!

I never put on shoes and never left the house.

I never woke up my computer nor turned on the light in my workroom.

I watched TV and sewed.

Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, I'd watched all of The Keepers on Netflix.

I basted the binding on the Alabama Chanin Corset over the weekend but that's not what I've been working on. What's been in-hand lately is the Magdalena A-Line Tunic that I stenciled about a year ago.

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This crazy thought popped into my head: Wouldn't it be fun to wear this in Spain?

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I doubt that I'll finish in time. This is the state of the front -- a bit of sewing yet to do, and a lot of cutting -- and I'll have to locate the back!

But... I'll never say "Never"!!


Weekending: Alabama Chanin, Rosanne Cash, Mother's Day

I finished my skirt on Friday night -- sewing on the fold-over elastic waistband with patience and the help of a lot of Wonder Clips!

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It felt so great to sew in that tag!

Saturday began with an hour or so watching the boys play soccer.

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We had some lunch afterwards and then went over to meet the baby.

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Mack could hardly get enough of her!

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She is pretty irresistible, and so content!!

Then it was concert time! Rusty and I went to see Rosanne Cash with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra along with John Leventhal and her band. The concert was fantastic! We enjoyed selections from The River & The Thread, The List, Black Cadillac, and more. There were numbers performed with only John on guitar as accompaniment, with her full band, and with the symphony -- it was a nice range. I enjoyed every minute.

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As hoped-for, I wore my new skirt! Styled above with my Catamount A-line Tunic Dress, Fluevog "Sunny" sandals, and a J.Jill sweater (it was chilly!), the tunic is maybe a little long for the skirt -- I will definitely be making a shorter tunic top to show off the skirt a bit more -- but this is a combo that I've had in mind since the beginning. The single-layer tunic and the bottom layer of the skirt are both dark grey, and the red beads on the tunic play off the burgundy top layer of the skirt.

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Rosanne wore an amazing Alabama Chanin jacket, by the way -- we weren't close enough that I could tell the design, but it was WAY sparklier than anything else in the room! Stunning and perfect. I didn't take any photos 'til the end for fear of being kicked out... I am not (much of) a rule-breaker!  ;)

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Here it is on Mother's Day, worn with a shorter J.Jill top... I'm thinking "uniform"! I was so comfortable all day long -- and I am not necessarily a skirt person! I like skirts well enough, but my short, high waist and bit of a belly can make it a challenging relationship. Here are some details, more photos below.

Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt

  • Swing Skirt - pre-cut & -stenciled kit from Alabama Chanin
  • 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey - Burgundy (top layer), Dark Grey (bottom layer)
  • Anna's Garden stencil
  • Button Craft Thread - double strand of Maroon/Burgundy throughout
  • Running stitch for construction & embellishment
  • Knots on the outside
  • Left Front Panel: Negative Reverse Applique
  • Right Front Panel: Reverse Applique
  • Back Panels: Stitched for Negative Reverse Applique but left un-cut
  • All seams inside felled
  • Fold-over Elastic Waistband sewn with herringbone stitch
  • Unfinished hem

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Mother's Day started with a funny card from Rusty, a couple of books, some chocolate...

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It continued with mimosas to accompany bacon, eggs & pancakes for a big family breakfast, more gifts, some shopping, some sewing, and knowing that people were working in my garden! Rusty & Kate tamed a bit of overgrowth in the back. I just don't garden as much since I quit smoking... and that's been a lot of years now!!

I put my new waistband skills to use yesterday, applying fold-over elastic to a couple pairs of leggings for Junah & Ginny.

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These were included (by mistake or on purpose... we will never know) as part of the Alabama Chanin fabric haul that my Utah friend scored and sent to me. There's another pair of 0-3m, two more pair of 2-3y, and a couple of in-between sizes too -- all in the same grey jersey with plaid knee patches, and pockets on the larger sizes. I haven't heard yet about how these fit. The kiddos wear mostly cloth diapers, though disposables sometimes... and these close-fitting leggings might be for wear with disposables only. Time for some more Big Butt Baby Pants!

It was truly a fun, fabulous, and memorable week/weekend.

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I hope yours was pretty good too!


Sewing and Knitting and Cooking and Sky-watching

SEWING

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Oh.My.Word. I am so in love with this Alabama Chanin swing skirt project!

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I don't remember whether I mentioned it here, but I was SHOCKED when I opened my kit and found Burgundy & Dark Grey (exactly what I ordered) instead of Dark Grey & Dove (which is what I was going to order right up 'til the last minute, when I daringly changed my mind).

There was nothing to do but DO, which is exactly what I did... not only is it a work-in-progress, it is also a design-in-progress. 

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One thing's for sure: these colors are working for me!!

KNITTING

Well. I finished a pair of Dimorphous Mittens a while back (except for buttons), and still have my Scoreboard Cowl to finish, but hadn't been too inspired to knit much lately (or have been more inspired to sew). But now...

  • I am well underway with Romi's Mystery Shawl 2016. I had to find & fix a little mistake at the end of Clue 2 last night (employing all the stitch markers) to keep on track!
  • Casting on of LOLA is imminent! I will be knitting this sweater in pieces, and beginning with a provisional cast-on (keeping options open... because designing as I go seems to be A Thing). All the materials are gathered and I'm finally ready to go!

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  • I'm not sure where Werifesteria will fit in, but it's not the knitting that I'm most interested in at this point, anyway. This is the second mystery Knit-Along/Walk-Along presented by Christina Campbell and I thoroughly enjoyed both aspects of the first. A March Through Time is probably my most-worn winter knit this year! Mostly, though, I am interested in the motivation to get out and walk this spring. Let's go!! (By the way, this KAL/WAL begins tomorrow! It is automatically 20% off through 3/31 -- that's today!)

COOKING (and Eating)

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Beef & Lamb Meatballs over Green Pea Risotto a la Plated. Yum. Our box also held the ingredients for a wonderful skillet-roasted chicken with some fennel and potatoes. I was a bit unsure about the new subscription plans, so have sat out deliveries for a bit, but decided to get back in; I am in charge and can skip whenever I like (such as the next two weeks, for various reasons) or even suspend deliveries for a lengthier period of time, but I really do enjoy not having to think about what I'm going to cook sometimes -- or even having to shop for it! Plus, I get to try new things or prep methods and have reasonable assurance that it's all going to turn out fine great. I have a few  invitations available (up to $72 off with subscription); if you're interested in trying Plated yourself, let me know and I'll send you an email invite!

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I ordered Fish Tacos at Houdini's Escape Gastropub at 5th Tuesday Knit Night; also in the frame are pub fries, a grilled veggie sandwich, and tortellini with portabello mushroom. Also yum. I really need to expand my horizons beyond the tacos at this establishment, but... SO GOOD!

SKY-WATCHING

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 18, 2016

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 22, 2016

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 29, 2016

The weather has been decidedly chilly, dreary, gray, and wet and looks to be that way for a while (perhaps even some snowflakes flying), so I'll just park these photos here so I can easily visit until nice weather returns.


Weekending: Again

What a weird week last week. I was supposed to have last Thursday & Friday off -- a nice long weekend.

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There was a much-hyped Tuesday & Wednesday snowstorm, though, and with Rusty being gone (he takes care of most snow removal), it was suggested that perhaps I'd rather have those days off to keep up. And, yeah... sort of, I guess, but other scheduling things came into play, too, so that I was ending up with most of Tuesday off and all of Wednesday and, well, that's not much different from a normal week.

I took Friday off, too, but it just wasn't the same, y'know? And, of course, the snowfall wasn't nearly as dramatic as predicted, either. Whatever.

I managed one session with the personal trainer last week, did lots of cooking, and also a fair bit of cutting, ironing, and sewing!

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I had the majority of my Color Dive Quilt (in-progress) laid out on the front room floor for a few days... until Junah was due for a visit and I realized what a disaster that could be! I have three rows sewn together so far... it's very colorful!

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Some of my seams line up pretty good and some not-so-good! I'm learning. I also found that some of my fabric combos worked better than others, and have done more fat-quarter shopping in the past week than I've done ever! I think I can live with it now... I will live with it, because no more shopping!

Annie came on Friday afternoon and spent the weekend. The plan was to introduce her to hand sewing, Alabama Chanin style, in preparation for some skirt kits that are on order. We used some stenciled fat-eighths that I'd ordered a while ago for our swatches.

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Within minutes, she was couching! She really likes the look of it and it's probably the technique she's going to use on her skirt.

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She tried some other techniques, too!

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The beads & sequins also came out, and I sent her home with a selection of all, along with some jersey rope in a contrasting color for couching.

The possibilities are endless!

I worked "negative reverse applique" on my swatch, with both layers of fabric in the same color.

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I will likely use this technique on my skirt, but the layers will be different shades of gray.

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It was a super fun and relaxing weekend -- not as long as originally hoped, but fine!

Ann is smitten with the stitching! It's going to be several weeks before our skirt kits arrive, so in the meantime (next time we get together), we'll be cutting out and sewing an interim project. She reminded me before she left that she made it as far Advanced Tailoring in high school home ec class (I remember the "muslin" suit she made from some amazing floral bedsheets)... she's going to LOVE working on a garment!


Weekending

Another weekend goes by and the living room still needs dusting.

A few weeks ago I cut out two Alabama Chanin A-Line Dresses. At first, they were going to be one two-layer dress, then I decided that I wanted a dress and a vest, so proceeded to baste the armhole & neckline edges of each, and even began a little sewing on the vest.

What I really wanted first, though, was the dress. I wanted to layer it under my Catamount A-Line Tunic-Dress... and I wanted to wear it to an event on Saturday night! For the millionth time, I wondered whether I could/should commit sacrilege and sew it up by machine and was once again sliding towards not when I read my daily Alabama Chanin inspirational email, saw some of their machine-made ready-to-wear, and thought WHY THE HELL NOT?!! For the most part, I intend this to have something layered over it... no one is going to care about my running stitch or how I felled my seams... and just never mind that it's my project, my fabric, my party.

So I did it, and quick... I started at about 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and we were walking out the door just before 5. The armholes and neckline are self-faced, the seams unfelled, and the hem unfinished... all apt to be revisited/worked on/finished at any time! But for now, it was a go.

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Ever since I read a comment in a thread on Ravelry about the proportion of my tunic-dress, I've questioned the length and my decision to chop it where I did. I love layering, though, and Langenlook (to a degree), so a dress-length layer to wear underneath as a styling option was one way for me to "fix" it, while also adding another basic piece to my wardrobe. And for winter wear (such as it is), the added layer and length are nice. I wore it with a cropped cardi, tights, and ankle boots. (I really need to do something about my mirror!)

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It's been the party dress of the season! I've one more for-sure holiday gathering this week on Wednesday.

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Saturday night was the ARTiculture End-of-Season Event and CSA share pick up at The Draw, with catering by Seven - Boutique Catering.

The venue was The Draw, recently finished, newly opened and pretty spectacular considering that it's "the little white building" that stood for years unoccupied and in disrepair while ever so intriguing and daydream-inducing (I'm guilty!). It's located right on the river and used to be part of a large paper mill. When the greater mill was razed (housing development now in its place), so too was the power source for this structure -- sort of a big hurdle to occupancy.

The food! Janel at Seven - Boutique Catering presented a lovely assortment of finger foods: tiny stuffed brussels sprouts, a variety of roasted fingerling potatoes (some were even hasselback), a butternut squash torte, and sweets.

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Included in our CSA share was a new -- THE BEST EVER -- knitting needle holder! Artist Melissa Siewert's modern take on vintage head vases is one of my favorites, and I think I want to eventually add one or two more! I'm thrilled with every piece of original local art we received in our ARTiculture CSA package (shares are still available!).

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No stranger to head vases here at knitorious, that little lovely in the background with the gigantic cactus hat was my first and long-time avatar here. It's only natural! I love that the new one can wear earrings, too. It's the perfect place for Bijouterie!


Slow Fashion Week 1: You (and Me)

I'm off to a tardy start in Karen Templer's "Slow Fashion October"... but it's a start!

First let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?

The most important people in my life are family and almost all of them -- to some degree -- are/were also makers.

  • Textiles, fiber and reed
  • Rocks, gems and metal
  • Wood, clay, and glass
  • Paper, graphite and paint
  • Seeds, dirt and water

Resulting goods (and motivation) range from utilitarian to decorative, executed by novice makers to highly skilled artists... but there's always been making and doing.

My mother taught me to knit when I was six. I knit on and off in high school and as a young adult in the world (I found knitting needles, yarn, and a slightly challenging pattern to be a great antidote to loneliness), but it's been in the last 15 years or so that I became a truly avid knitter. Thankfully, about 10 years ago, knitting blogs were a Really Big Thing and I became part of that community where people actually thought about knitting and thoughtfully wrote about knitting, yarn, tools, technique (and life), and I learned so much.

Dresses

Dresses sewn by Mom (including her own).

Though my mother was an excellent sewist, she was also a very busy single mother & student, and I didn't learn to sew (more than a button) until I took Home Ec. in high school! My stepmother actually owned a fabric & craft store when she met my dad, and I made a couple of skirts under her tutelage -- but mostly I knit angora hats and made macrame plant hangers for her to sell at the store; she gave me the sturdy used Husqvarna sewing machine that I've used for the past 35-40 years.

I've written a little about sewing and fashion -- and slow fashion -- and quality last April. I am not a crusader, but I am aware and quietly help to make others aware.

Mostly, I just do. I make and do because that's what I've always done -- it's one of the ways I know I'm alive! The day I stop making and doing, I'll be dead.

I became interested in/aware of slow fashion when I began learning about Natalie Chanin and her company, Alabama Chanin in 2012. One of the things I admire about Alabama Chanin is the open source concept. Because as much as I'd like to own, wear, and love a $4,000 handmade dress, it is just never going to happen; but there are resources and tools available for me to make one myself.

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A-line_20150805_183338

Or something.

Anyway, I'm participating in Slow Fashion October because I love seeing what others are doing. Just as I learned so much about knitting from the knit-blog community, I am inspired and in awe of what's happening in the larger "maker" community. And I will learn things.

Mending

I actually have a couple of goals for the month. One of them is to mend an already mended tunic. Shown above is a visible (embellished!) repair made a few months ago near the hem. Now, there are two small holes in the tummy region. I do not want to give up this garment just yet!! So I need to figure out a way... and am open to suggestions!


Alabama Chanin Wrap Skirt

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I finally finished my "muslin" of the Alabama Chanin Wrap Skirt! I used three thrifted t-shirts for the main skirt pieces (one black and two mismatched-but-close green), stenciled the fabric using my airbrush and compressor set-up for the first time, and used a variety of techniques to finish.

A skirt is a tricky garment for me to wear, and I'd make mods* next time, but I was comfortable enough to wear it out to lunch yesterday!

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Alabama Chanin Wrap Skirt

  • (1) Black T-shirt
  • (2) Green T-shirts (mismatched but close in color)
  • Angie's Fall stencil, gray fabric paint (I mixed the color)
  • Button Craft Thread - double strand of Black throughout
  • Running stitch for construction & embellishment
  • Back Panel: Black outer layer, Green inner layer; large motifs stitched, no cutting, knots inside
  • Inner Front Panel: Green for both layers (same t-shirt); large & medium motifs inked & stitched inside, large motifs cut, knots outside
  • Outer Front Panel: Black outer layer, Green inner layer; large motifs stitched & cut, knots inside
  • All seams inside felled
  • Waistband and ties using Alabama Chanin 100% organic cotton jersey fabric - Blue Slate
  • Unfinished hem

*Because of my body shape, and this is whether or not I'm packing 30 extra pounds -- it's just structure/posture -- I would make an adjustment to the front (shorten) or to the back (lengthen), and probably play around with the darts a little. Some people make a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) when they sew... mine would be a Full Belly Adjustment. Haha.

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In other news, the image above was included with permission in a recent Alabama Chanin Journal post about The School of Making (#theschoolofmaking)! I am rubbing Instagram shoulders with some very fine company there. Check it out... it's an inspiring community.


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!).


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.


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!


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.