Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wiley House Heritage Arts Show Features My Original Work!

I'm excited to have two of my original creations, a knit top and matching scarf, featured this coming month in a Heritage Arts show at the Wiley House, 14th and J Streets in Bedford, Indiana.  I made the top and scarf with two balls of Warbler Boucle, a 100% cotton yarn by Robin Edmundson of Solsberry, Indiana ( For the lace stitch, I used a scarf pattern by Vedis Jonsdottir on page 112 of the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting. I pretty much stuck to the pattern for the scarf, but got more creative for the top, adding two balls of old crochet thread that I dyed with Rit Dye to achieve the dark blue of the yoke, which I knitted in a simple stockinette stitch edged in garter stitch. I had never dyed thread before, and I was really pleased with how easy it was and how well it turned out. I see a lot more thread-dyeing in my future.

The jeans were decorated by DD and her friends in Rouen, France, to commemorate the year she spent there on the Rotary Youth Exchange program in 2008-2009. These jeans remind me of the senior cords created by Indiana high school students in the past. I think they look great with the top and scarf.

The pink bra under the lace top might be a little much! It was either that or a boring beige camisole. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stash bustin'

One of my frugal, de-cluttering objectives this summer has been to finish projects and try to sew up my fabric stash. The red skirt turned out really well; I must have had this cotton/Lycra twill fabric for at least ten years, but it sewed up quickly and fits great. Total cost (in 2012 terms): about $3 for the elastic and hem tape. The blue-on-blue African fabric I bought four years ago in the Congo. Since I didn't have my sewing machine with me, and I was tired of all the clothes in my suitcase, I hired an African lady to sew me up an outfit, but it was a disaster. I paid her, anyway, but couldn't wear it. This year I took it completely apart, every seam, and managed to salvage enough for a skirt, not a great return considering I had bought six yards, but better than nothing. Total cost, not including the fabric I bought four years ago: $0. Everything came out of my stash. I also made a pair of shorts in a wild striped stretch twill that I'm not showing here ($0), and recovered a chair for DD's new apartment. I wanted to recover the chair in African fabric I had taking up space in the women's jail, but DH insisted on buying new velour. It's very pretty, and he paid the $100+ for the fabric, thread and new zippers, but it kind of defeated the purpose I had setting out, which was to reduce my fabric stash and avoid spending any money. Men!

Our little town of Bedford, Indiana has gotten much more interesting recently. There are three new restaurants, a coffee shop, and a used bookstore, all within a block of the courthouse square (i.e., a couple of blocks from our house). I'm especially fond of the bookstore, where you can trade in your used books for store credit and buy more. The Wiley Art Center has a new exhibit every month, and of course, thanks to the great team there, the Lawrence County Museum is a wonderful place to visit. We've had a busy summer at the museum, but today I could have slept at the front desk and no one would have seen me.

DS is a senior in high school this year (can you believe it?) and we've hit the road a few times this summer for university visits. I'm particularly fond of the University of Chicago, mostly because it gave me an excuse to visit one of my favorite cities. DD has been off in Montana for a six-week geology field camp. It's been a challenge but she stuck it out and will be back next week.

We are in the middle of a terrible drought here in southern Indiana. The cornfields are a tragedy. My heart goes out to the farmers and to all the people who will be hungry this winter when the law of supply and demand pushes prices up. It's funny how we all react now when rain is in the forecast or clouds appear overhead--eyes watch the sky hopefully, every greeting includes, "Looks like we might get some rain!" and on the rare occasion that rain does fall, people come out on their porches to watch. We have learned to appreciate the blessing of rain.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dandelion Greens--Umm, Er, Maybe Not

I've been thinking for a while about trying dandelion greens. I mean, what's not to like? They grow in our yard like crazy at this time of the year, so since I'm going to pull them up, anyway, we might as well eat them, too. There was so much advice about this all over the Internet that I decided to just ignore all of it and serve the greens raw in a salad.

I enlisted DS to get out the old Fiskars weedeater and rip a bunch of dandelion plants out by the roots. The websites all tell you that the big leaves can be bitter, so I carefully cut off only the small leaves for our salad. By the time DS got tired of yard work (about 15 minutes, I'd say), I had enough greens for the three of us. I chopped up a tomato to add to the "salad" and dished up three bowls of it.

DH tried gamely to eat it, but after one bite DS was through. You can see from the picture how much he didn't like it. Before I had even taken a seat at the counter they were both proclaiming the greens to be inedibly bitter. My first couple of bites were all right, but by bite #3 I was inclined to agree with them, so we picked out the tomatoes and unceremoniously dumped the greens in the trash.

Still, as I was walking outside this morning, I saw a whole fresh new crop of the telltale yellow flowers scattered on the lawn. Maybe I could collect a new bunch and try cooking them...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teal Suit Finished At Last

Okay, so in February I didn't finish any UFO's; but already in March I've finished two, if you count this suit as two pieces, the jacket and the skirt. This project got abandoned more than once since I bought the fabric a while back (you may remember it from my December 16, 2010 post "Polyester, Nein, Danke!). Despite my earlier reservations, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. The fabric is a synthetic suede, very out of character for me (I tend to be Ms. Natural Fibers). It wasn't particularly easy to work with, and then I lost 30 pounds after the jacket was nearly finished. I couldn't take in the side seams without taking out the in-seam pockets, so I just lapped it farther over in the front for a less baggy fit. Fortunately I hadn't cut the skirt out yet, so the size change wasn't a problem there.

I'm also proud that I didn't have to buy any new notions for the suit; the buttons, interfacing, zipper and hem tape all came out of my stash. (And I swear that I will not accumulate any more such items without having an immediate use for them! She who dies with the most fabric, zippers, hem tape, etc. stored in plastic boxes DOES NOT WIN.)

The jacket back comes to an off-center point at the bottom that is interesting to look at and flattering, too. I can probably use this outfit as an excuse to buy new shoes, since my green ones are too green and my navy ones too blue. Styling it, as they say on Project Runway, could be tricky.

My goal for April is to finish a knitted lace top and scarf. I had lots of time to work on it last week, when I traveled to northern Michigan with DD and her boyfriend. I'm using two yarns, a variegated cotton boucle that I bought from Robin Edmundson and some discolored Knit-Cro-Sheen that I dyed dark blue to coordinate. Stay tuned for details and pictures--I'm on a roll!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Deborah Newton Stocking Cap from Vogue Knitting--Done!

As soon as I saw this wild and woolly stocking cap on page 67 of the Holiday 2011 Vogue Knitting, I knew my darling daughter would love it. It wasn't easy to knit; all the color changes, of course, and my own stupidity made it take much longer than it should have, but it's finished with plenty of winter left to wear it in, and my 2012 knitting year is off to a great start. January isn't over yet, and I've already completed something! Here's DD, back in her old room for a night, modeling her new cap.

What's next? I have lots of projects at the museum, and maybe I'll tackle a UFO or two. I've lost 30 pounds so far and nothing fits right, so I might just spend some time taking in my old clothes, although it would be a lot more fun to just make (and shop for) new ones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It takes a village...of Santas

Remember when the kids were small, and their Christmas presents were Legos and Barbies and board games and picture books? When their eyes shone just looking at the lights on the tree or the twinkling fake icicles dangling from the soffit? When everywhere you went you could find something you knew they would love?

Those days are so gone. Our kids are 20 and almost 17. Their toys are electronic. Their clothes are expensive. Their tastes are unpredictable. But one thing they still love, no matter what is in the gift--the tag.

What? The tag? Who reads past their own name on the tag? Ah, if you do not live in the village of many Santas, you may be missing the best part of gift giving. Let me explain.

Years ago, I got tired of putting "To ________ From Santa" on every tag. It was so boring, so uncreative. And generally left unread. So I started sneaking in different names for Santa. At first it was just alternative monikers like "St. Nicholas" or "Papa Noel" (the French version). The village of Santas just kept growing, though, and DH and the kids got into the spirit and started labeling their gifts with silly Santa names that sometimes hinted at the contents as well.

This year the re-naming of Santa provided us with hours of entertainment. Consider the example above, on a gift of athletic socks (DS goes through at least a pair a week, and they fit nicely into the stocking, but socks are right up there with underwear in the "gift you really don't want to open" category). As it turned out, the tag was more fun than the gift, and we all had a good laugh over it. Other notable examples: on a replacement tripod for DD, who has suffered numerous spills with the cheap one she currently uses for oil painting, "Life is too short to waste on bad equipment Santa." On a gift to my husband of the former California governor's favorite pumpkin seed oil, "Arnold Santa-negger." "Vintage Santa" brought me a lovely beaded scarf, and "Lame Sister" received a book from "Even Lamer Brother Santa." A bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream came from "Tam O'Santa," and "Santa D'Or Dali" gave DD several new tubes of oil paints.

We had so much fun with the Santa village that I'm already thinking up Santa names for next year. I hope you all enjoyed wonderful Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Let's make something wonderful in 2012.