Sunday, October 31, 2010

November + Western Wa = Rain

Yes, we are entering the "other" rainy season :)

The Greater Seattle Area is really quite beautiful, and we need rain for that. Today and yesterday have been blustery/sunny/wet and today promises to be more of the same.

I spent most of yesterday downstairs cleaning up. I should have been weaving but got sidetracked by cleaning. That almost NEVER happens so when the bug hits, I just give in and do it.

So that means I can work today. My plan is to finish up the last placemat at the loom. I broke a thread on Wednesday so I need to unweave a bit to work a new one in. There will be more warp left on, so I am thinking of running another color weft through and making a smaller mat to be used for a table mat for her centerpiece. That will complete the set for MIL's Christmas gift.

If I have time, I am going to get the Verona Jacket pattern out and trace off for fitting alterations. I'm enamored of this book now:

Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People series)
I read this almost cover to cover while sitting in the Company parking lot when I took Chris to Seattle for pre-employment appointments. It really made sense to me. I am pretty sure I won't need to employ much if anything for this jacket as I have tried it on at Sew Expo and loved the fit, but I'm going to play with the process anyway.

I'll be using the silk herringbone for the main jacket shell. I wanted a coffee colored silk noil for the color and pocket accents but in Marysville (or Scarysville as the locals call it, even when it's NOT Halloween), there is NO chance of finding that and I do not have the patience to wait for mail order. So I am using a featherwale cord in the same color. I found a beautiful poly floral print @ Jo-Ann's in Everett last week and that will be the lining. I'm choosing a length somewhere between the jacket and coat view with long sleeves. The pattern looks VERY simple. We'll see.

On another note, I lost my battle with weight loss. Lost 30 lbs and 10 are back. Dissappointed and aware, I am getting back on track. I have to. I worry about my health and carrying around 10 extra lbs isn't the way to manage staying healthy. Every post from now on will end with my current weight and what I'm doing to manage a healthy lifestyle. Starting today.

Lifestyle Management Update: Weight 153. I vow to get through today with NO candy. Whole grains, fruits and vegtables, lean protiens. NO CANDY CORN.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fabric Mart and Me

I bit. Made my first order at their last 20% off everything sale. So what did I get?
4 delicious yards of this silk herringbone suiting. The color didn't come across in this photo, but it is greenish blue and just lovely, lovely. She is going to become this:
The Sewing Workshop's Verona Jacket and Coat
I'll be making the jacket, probably lengthening the sleeve and body a bit. Haven't decided on the contrasting trim yet, but I like the idea of brown ultrasuede on the inside collar and pocket trim. I can dress this down enough to wear to work.

I also bought 3 yards of this poly border print:
The picture doesn't do the colors justice. It's a steel gray and the flowers are much brighter. The teal really stands out in person. It's a mid weight weave and has great body and drape. I thought of Sarah immediately. It would make a terrific semi-formal dress for her with her dark hair and incredibly hard to describe bluegreengray eyes. We'll see when she's home for Thanksgiving what she thinks. I have got to refine my fitting skills if I am going to sew for her. Neither of us is an out of the envelope size for anything.

I also got 3 yards of this tan dotted swiss:

The color is much more on the tea dyed scale than shown in the picture. I see a great summer sundress, again for Sarah. Can you tell I miss her? I do. I would love to stitch away for her, but as I said above, my fitting skills need work if I am going to do anything fitted for either of us.

What else... 2 yards of a beautiful turquoise bamboo knit for me, 3 yards of a natural linen/rayon blend to play with dyeing and surface painting, 3 yards fo black hammered silk, and a mystery bundle.

GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE!!! That mystery bundle was FABULOUS!

There were 3 yards of charcoal grey wool knit (and I think it is 100% wool from the burn test), 2+ yards of a red poly chiffon (perfect for the 18" doll party dress I'm going to make), 3 yards of some kind of poly... it's grey, darker on one face, almost silver on the other, and this:

I have no idea how to sew with this... I would call it a pleated or crinkled fabric. It's a lovely teal and gold blend and I would love to figure out how to get it into a top, possibly an empire cross. But right now it's a wrap. I did have a wildly draped concoction going on after I untied this, ala PR's Michael C :)  We'll see. I have miles of weaving to do first.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Progress Report x 4

Saturday was an absolute treat for me. My best friend, Linda, came to visit. She lives 1 1/2 hrs. away, so we don't get to see each other very often. She brought her knitting (she makes adorable knitted sheep that she felts) and I worked on tying off the final bits of the Dogwood Placemats. We worked and talked for almost 6 hours. It was great and I've decided when we retire and sell this house, I want to move south so we can do this more often.

Progress 1:

On the Loom: Dogwood Placemats for Betty

I did manage to get the loom threaded for the Dogwood Placemats a week ago Sunday. There are 400 ends on these, so that is a lot of threading for me and it's not straight 1-8, so I really had to be careful.

To facilitate the threading, I "wrote out" the entire threading sequence instead of working from the pattern, which had multiple repeats. (Do this 2 times, do that 2 times, do the other thing 2 times and then do that whole block 3 times... then do this... and don't lose your place...) Thank goodness for Excel. It makes repeats as simple as ... copy / paste and translating these instructions into a format I could use, a quick and painless process.

To help ensure accuracy, I broke the diagram into units of 8. I used a post-it note to keep track of where I was and double checked each unit before proceeding to the next. I caught 2 errors using this process, so I think it is a good approach for someone who feels intimidated by what they preceive as a "complicated" threading. When I finished, I felt a genuine, unexpected SMILE.

With all the heddles theaded, then I could move on to tying on. This is what I worked on while Linda was visiting Saturday. It was obvious at that point that I had skipped 2 heddles. Actually, the empty heddle was there, and the thread that belonged to it was there, it just wasn't threaded. I credit the careful "8 per block" charting I did ahead for averting a nasty repair: verifying each block ensured I had 8 heddles and 8 threads, next time I'll add actually getting them threaded to the list:)

The treadling was represented in the same manner on the graph, so I wrote it out as well. It's a very long sequence, so I cut it into manageable chunks and taped it to tag board. This way, I can keep track of where I am with a paper clip. This is taped to the high castle.

I was all set up. I completed one entire placemat.
And then I refered to the picture. There was a border on the mat in the photo, but not one on mine. I checked the diagrams. I was threaded correctly. I checked the treadles, they were tied up per the diagram. So I went back to threading chart and realized that I could add shaft 8 to all of the tie-ups that didn't already create a tabby in the border area. After that adjustment ~ I had a border! I'll use the first mat for a bread cloth or something... Thank goodness I tied a long enough warp to compensate for this.

But mostly, I'm feeling pretty smug that I figured it out.
Smug me.

After working for a couple of hours yesterday, I have 1 mat without a border and 1-3/4 mats with borders. I've got enough bobbins wound to complete the set and I'm already dreaming about what I want to do next.

Progress 2:
DS turned 20 last week. He spent the afternoon and much of the evening with us, had fun playing with the RC helicopter the grandfolks gave him, then left to spend the rest of the evening with his GF. Today, he completes his pre-employment paperwork with his new employer. My employer :) His last day at his present employer is Wednesday. His first day on the new job is this Friday. This job won't take him to the rich house, but it's a 50% raise and has benefits. It's an opportunity for him to prove himself and work into a much better position. I am hopeful.

Progress 3:

DD appears to be on track to graduate a semester early. Or take the extra semester and graduate with 2 majors: Antropology and Comparative Ethnic Studies.

(Progress 2 + 3 = $$$ back into our personal "value stream" by the end of 2012. This is also when DH's retirement pension kicks in, so we will be rolling in dough :)

Progress 4:

The heat pump, air handler and thermostat are finally installed and wired to DH's satisfaction. The had to come back and swap out the thermostat today. My personal wish? This should END my apprenticeship in reading wiring diagrams and interpretation of actual field application of said wiring diagrams as well as field testing involving running from the switching mechanism to the heat pump, back to the air handler and reporting back to The Sarge. After 2 weeks of hearing and doing very little that didn't relate to this project, I am glad it's right and I am glad it's OVER.
Update on the Smug. Not so much... Just rechecked the treadling diagram and it was there all the time, I just missed it. And in photographing the mat with the border, I found 2 glaring weaving area about 12 inches in. I'll be spending this afternoon "unweaving". Similar to unsewing with all the requiste ladylike language. Refer to the picture above with the mat with a border. See the box of tissues next to loom on the table? That's for my TEARS!!!!
Update on the heating system. Not over. DH is in there right now cursing about a duct join that didn't join up in the floor joists. He's going to fix it. Oy vey.

But what's to complain about? Gotta do something, right? :)

Weekend Progress Report - Wrap Up

I got TONS done this weekend, but nothing off of the camera yet. I have tomorrow off to take my son to Seattle for some final pre-employment things and then it's back home for the rest of the day.

I have not been slouching and am anxious to write out how I approached the current project on the loom. This is my second project started "on my own" and I really like how it's turning out. Of course, I found out that preparation is everything and that, by George, I think I've got it!

More tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sleying the Reed - Front to Back

The controversey rages on. Front to back (the method I learned), back to front...
I personally like the front to back because I can do this part sitting at the gift wrapping table. Right height, good lighting and a comfortable chair.
This is the start of the project for Betty's Christmas gift, dogwood placemats. This is 10/2 perle cotton with a nice twist and sheen; the warp is about 5 yards long to yeild 6 placemats. Or 4 and some experimentation. Hope to have the loom ready to go by Sunday, but I am coming down with something and feel rotton.
And I am sad.
Yesterday, in Bellingham, WA, the body discovered in a log pond was officially identified as a young man named Dwight Clark. He was 18 and had been missing for 11 days. He'd been at Western Washington University for ONE WEEK. By all accounts, he was a good student and an all-around good guy. My daughter is friends with 2 of his friends at her university and they had nothing but good to say about him. In fact, one left school to join the search when he went missing and will most likely not be back.
He was found with his keys, ID, cell phone... No sign of violence or foul play. Initial autopsy shows that he died in the water. He left a party alone at 2am. Interviews with other people at the party indicate he didn't drink or do drugs.
My children are 20 and 21. They have no doubt used less than sound judgement on many occassions and yet they always woke up in the morning none the worse for wear. I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of the loss his family must feel, his friends, fellow students...
There may never be an answer to what happened to Dwight that early morning. I do hope that we all take a minute to remind our kids that no one is invincible and that there is safety in numbers. My son had a teacher who once described my son's group this way: None of them is as stupid as all of them together. But a pack of stupid is better than one lone kid in a college town at night. Or anywhere for that matter.
Life is very fragile. My 8 year old niece was the victim of a senseless drowning, so I am not a stranger to the twisted mess that life can be. I know that random events occur and there is no way to predict when one will hit. We can take measures to protect ourselves, of course, and we should. And we should be grateful every day that we dodge the random, grateful when we don't but can recover and grieve for those that are lost.
Hug your friends and family, People.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wire wires everywhere..

... Seems one project gets completed and another starts. For DH. Which involves moi's participation.

Today's project is readying the phone system for the switch to a cable phone provider. We have a large home, tweeked to the geek. There are things that talk to each other through the phone lines and Sisters, I have NO clue how any of it works. Zip. And frankly, I don't much care because this house is only alive because DH is. When he is called to his maker, I have to move because I don't know how anything besided the basic appliances in this house works. Oh I can cook, run the washer and dryer... I've even progressed to getting pictures from the digital camera to the computer.

And that is my limit. I can't pay bills on-line, can't operate the ride-on mower, don't dare try and touch the coffee grinder and espresso machine (from Italy, too complicated).

DH, however, seems to think I am much smarter than I am. This afternoon and evening were spent trying to figure out where in the vast system of wires did the red and green get switched with the black and yellow. Huh?

I helped awhile, holding the flashlight, confirming what he saw, but mostly surfed the web. Had ambitions of sleying the reed, but needed to be close by for consultations (read listen and hopefully understand enough to contribute). Glad to be able to spend the time with him, but that's it for today.

Maybe tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Show Your Work pt 2

I need to work on my composing skills, I guess...

Just about done with my towels, have only the hemming left to do. But here is what all my fussing is about!

Shot to the left is a picture of weaving in progress. The other is the finished product. Less the hems. Which I am waffling on doing by machine. These aren't 'excellent' so I think machine will be good enough.

I did learn many things and now that they are off the loom, cut apart and washed, the biggest lesson is that I won't use sewing thread for my tabby weave. Although I was told it was okay, it doesn't shrink (DUH, did I just start sewing?). So the tabby area is wider than the towels. I can compensate by putting in a gathering thread and easing it in. They are fine for a first project and I am putting them away for my first granddaughter. They will burp rags. Seriously!

As you can tell, I tried a variety of tie ups and treadlings. I used an unusual fiber for accent in the towel on top, tried adding white bands. I had so much fun! So I need to get off of the computer now and to winding the warp for my next project.

But before I go, on the GOOD NEWS front:
  • DD's BF is DONE with radiation! He should start regaining his strength in about a week and be good as new!
  • DS has a NEW JOB! Just waiting for the background check and his report date! He'll be joining me in the fast paced aircraft industry. Not exactly joining me. He's going to be a mechanic and I'm a desk jockey ;-) It's a substantial pay boost and benefits. I am so grateful he's getting this opportunity.

I really do love life!


Show Your Work!

Remember in math class when you would FAIL if you did not show "your work"? Well here is mine:

This is my sewing room closet before I cleaned it out. Now granted, it looks worse than normal because I had to throw all of the things in here that were on the FLOOR and my sewing machines are under that pile in the 2nd picture.

The fabric on the shelves, however, was untouched by the chaos so I have no excuse for it.

This was taken a few minutes into the clean up. All of Sarah's and my dolls are on the top shelf. They used to be all over the guest nook. It was kind of creepy...

Here are the after pictures:

I just get chills when I walk in here now. I tossed some, but not all that much, fabric. It's so well organized, I could send you a text in Florida and you could drive here and find the fabric based on my directions quicker than I could have found it last week.

I sew doll wardrobes for charity auctions and include a nice doll with it. I usually pick them up @ Tuesday Mornings for a good price. Let's just say after finding them all, I think I'm good to go for awhile...

I also moved the 'gift wrap center' into the guest nook in my sewing room. If we have a guest, I can drag it out and make more room. Or if they come around Christmas, they can wrap the gifts as a 'wind down' activity :)

Here's a close up of the card on the wall in the picture to the left. My delightful offspring gave it to me for my birthday last year. It's a classic in my book but I guess that's obvious since I stuck it on the wall! There is little doubt that they are my children

I hate the blogger interface when I'm importing pictures! I'm off to part 2 and will import the pictures FIRST. Let's see if that works better... After all, as Dorothy said, you can't make her think... :)