Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The End of a Back Yard Era

The landlord next door decided to cut down the black walnut tree which was basically on the border of our properties and had been spreading juglon toxin in our yard for decades.  Now there will be no squirrels dropping black walnut shells out of their mouths to stain my laundry, no sharp pieces of shells on our bare feet, no shade.  Because sadly, once the black walnut was cut down far enough, the tree trimmer told my husband and me that our locust tree was dangerously frail.  The walnut had leaned into it hard enough that it could not stand securely on its own, and trimming off the damaged section could lead to a partial death of its roots and make it unstable.  So in the space of two days, we lost two mature trees from our back yard.

Small black walnut limbs in front of the trunk.
The maple is still there and we are joining with the neighbors to pay for its pruning so it can be healthier.
The bucket is in the black walnut tree; the locust tree branches are visible to the left. 

The bucket is in the black walnut tree; the maple is on the right.
But oh! the loss of these big beautiful trees and their deep-green shade in the summer just sickens me.  I hear the chipper and the chainsaw roaring away in the backyard as I type this. I feel slightly desperate to plant a tree, oh heck, lots of trees, somewhere.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Bigger Felted Slippers for Phoebe

I measured Phoebe's feet again and used the last of the felted fuchsia sweater to make her some slipper-boots.  I used this excellent tutorial again.
I wanted to embellish the boots somehow, but I drew a total blank - perhaps in the urgency of just getting the baby's feet warm?

And until I get some puff paint or non-skid sole fabric, Ben ice skates her around the house on her slippery slippers.  Ill-advised, I know, but hilarious.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Green Cloak for Ben

This cloak came about because Ben was dragging a fleece blanket everywhere around the house this fall.  My husband jokingly suggested I should make Ben a cape.  This made sense on every level to me. So I bought 4 yards of green fleece (his favorite color) and set to work.  I used a girl's size 6 pattern that I had already, just lengthening it and moving the arm-slits down a bit.  I have plans to make a wool cloak for Genevieve so I will show you the pattern then. The fleece was so easy to work with because it doesn't fray.  No hem needed! Ben found the perfect green buttons in my stash.

Ben wears the cloak every day in lieu of clothes or pajamas - it probably functions as a security blanket at this point, and I am wary of depriving him of it to wash it.

 It will probably be his Halloween costume, too - a green Jedi, maybe, or Robin Hood like my sister suggested.  I think we can agree that the cloak is a definite success!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Spiced Blackberry Jam

I bought three quarts of local blackberries in their peak in August, and stashed them in the freezer for jam-making when the weather cooled down.  Now, I need to clear whatever I can out of the freezer before our beef comes in November.  I looked at recipes until I got what I wanted:  partially seeded, thick jam with a little hit of cinnamon and nutmeg.

I used a combination of several of Marisa's recipes. To make the jam set, I used a lemon, zest and juice, as well as 3 Tbsp. of powdered pectin.  Still, my jam did not set very much. I guess I could have boiled it longer? Or added more pectin? Jam-making is still intimidating for me.

I'm moving on and not messing with it, however (Marisa has very helpful ideas for jam that did not set).  The flavor is great.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Sea-Green Linen Dress

The color of this linen is perfect. It's almost grey, but then it's green.  When I wear it, it matches my eyes and my skin looks bloomy and pink.  In short, it's my color.  And I would have ditched this dress pattern except for the fantastic sea-green linen.

The pattern gave me a high-necked dress with puffed sleeves.  I looked like a dreadful 1980s Mennonite maiden - not my vision!  I nearly chucked it in the thrift store bag. Rebecca talked my off the cliff by suggesting I re-cut the neckline.  I took the dress on and off many many times as I snipped a neckline, checked it, snipped again, checked it.  Finally, I liked it.  I made new facings by laying newspaper on top and tracing the neckline.

For the sleeves, I relied on ikat bag's helpful post on sleeves to explain what makes some fit closely and fit better.   Essentially, I flattened out the curve on top of the sleeve to reduce the puffiness. I was able to reduce the puff significantly, while still keeping the ease that I needed for songleading, the first event where I wore this dress.

I also tried on the dress multiple times to take in the waistline darts and loosen up the hip area.  So many fitting issues!  

The linen was rough and scratchy when I started making the dress, but I handled it so thoroughly that it turned soft and buttery by the time I was ready to wear it. 

I do like the dress, especially with the chunky bracelet I got at the thrift store for $2 and the merino wrap my mother-in-law got in India. But I doubt I'll have the patience to sew this pattern again!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Plain Office Curtains

My husband asked for plain curtains for his narrow little office where one wall is a door and a window.  He wanted privacy and climate control and nothing fussy (read: black rectangles). 

I picked up a bundle of fabric at the creative reuse store for a couple bucks, only to discover it was knit fabric when I got it home to wash. I have had mixed success sewing knits so that the seams do not bubble.  I have tried the faux serger stitches on my machine on various projects. I think the deciding factor is how the knit itself behaves with sewing, which I don't know how to predict. This black knit turned out fine.  I used a small zig-zag stitch and pressed the hems firmly when I was done.

I clipped the rectangles to the wire and clips my husband got at Ikea.  He is pleased, and I am pleased to have a curtain success!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Phoebe at the Cabin

After I was sick for a week, we went to the cabin with family.  I also picked up a new freelance editing job.  And Phoebe, although she looks cherubic here, is demanding her independence with destructive results as only a 2-year-old can. Oh, that girl.  So all of these explain my blogging break, but I'm back.