Saturday, March 31, 2007

Starflower Bag

I finished this bag this morning, I think the beaded flower centers add a nice touch.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Siobhan's quilt

I got the quilts back from the quilt show and I pin basted Sio's quilt yesterday and this morning. If she and Chris are really planning on getting an apt. as soon as they can, then she should have her quilt, and I figure it will take quite awhile to hand quilt it.

Carla had a great idea she read somewhere; she said if every one would just buy organic the vegetable they eat the most, that would make a big difference. I think she's right, and we eat potatoes the most, so I bought organic ones yesterday. I'm also going to buy organic juice; I do sometimes anyway, but sometimes the sale on Ocean Spray or Langers is just such a good deal I can't pass it up. Since I don't drink much pop anymore, I drink a lot more juice and water so the juice will make a difference. Plus the more people ask for organic, the cheaper it will get. I'm also still thinking about that garden; Lombard would be closer to here so I might use Chris and Rich's address, but I'm also thinking about just having one at Irene's. Since this will be my first garden I don't want it too big, anyway; it would be overwhelming. So I could have a smallish one at the end of her driveway. Maybe I'll just plant tomatoes and beans, a few strawberries, some lettuce and cucumbers and maybe a few onions. That would be enough to start. Oh and red and green bell peppers, gotta have those. I will try organic gardening on my own. That's what I've done with my tomatoes here, even though last year it was such a pain in the ass picking off the tomato worms.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A different bag

Well, since I couldn't make the butterfly bag, there is this bag instead. I was amazed at how fast this one went together, I guess random patchwork is like anything else; the more you make, the faster (and hopefully better) you get.

John has a little squirrel he feeds and he was out this morning. I was throwing him peanuts from the upstairs window and watching him. He ate a couple and then ran around burying the next 3. He took the last one and ran over to the neighbors yard, but he cam back while I was taking the pictures. He sat up on the fence and watched me. I should have taken pics of it too. Oh well, next time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spinning Wheel

I mentioned to a friend at work yesterday that I was thinking about buying a spinning wheel. She asked if I didn't want hers! I knew she had one that had belonged to her mom who passed away a couple of years ago, but I was floored that she wanted me to have it, sort of on permanant loan. It needs a good place to call home and get used, so that is really nice of her to offer it to me. I want to learn to spin, and then I could weave what I've spun. It would be really great.
I looked through all my corduroy this morning to find something that would go with the embroidered butterfly, and of course I had nothing.I had to go to the grocery store to get a couple of things and since I was passing by I went into Salvation Army, but there was nothing there either, so I guess maybe I'll just put it away again for now. I did get a pretty cool Indian or Pakistani embroidered piece that cost $1.50. It's recent, it has the mylar in the shisha instead of real mirrors, but that's ok, I'm thinking of maybe using it for the front panel of a skirt, and the mirrors would make it hard to care for. It's such a nice day that I'm ok with not finding the cord, it's supposed to rain later so this is an excuse for me to sit outside and do a couple more Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Finished skirt and 70's embroidery

I finally finished the random patchwork skirt I've been working on. I got pictures of it and then got it in my Etsy store. I think it turned out really nice. Mildred is having some problems, though. One of her legs is broken, it's actually not her leg, but where her leg fits into the stand. I am going to see if I can glue it in place. I wouldn't be able to brake her down for storage, but that would be ok, she needs to be up most of the time anyway.

I dug out this crewel work butterfly that I bought as a kit at Salvation Army months ago and embroidered. I am going to turn it into a bag tomorrow. I am also going to trace the butterfly and do it in different colors, maybe using pearl cotton. I have a lot of it in several different colors, and it would have to look better that the pink and green that the original is done in.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Grandmothers Flower Garden

I was watching Simply Quilts this morning and the show was about making a Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt. I've never made one because they seem like so much work, but the lady who was the guest used plastic templates and the basting was just catching the corners down. Then after that you whip stitch the pieces together. I made my templates from some coffee can lids and old butter container lids. I punched 2 holes in the center of each template to pin it down while cutting 1/4 inch around it. I did learn that the seam allowance should be 1/4 inch; any smaller and the templates start popping out before every thing is all sewed together. It's important to leave the template in until all the pieces are sewn to it, I popped out the center template in the last picture. This is the greatest take-along project. And it's a really good way to recycle all the plastic lids that seem to accumulate after the containers have melted in the microwave or whatever. Or the yogurt cup lids. I have a ton of 1930's reproduction prints, so I'll make the flowers from those. All I need to do is find enough of a solid to be the outside rings. I'd like to use a pale yellow or blue, but I might have to go with white if I don't have enough of either of those. I also have a skirt to finish for E-bay. I got an e-mail from a girl who wants to buy the Celtic dress but she doesn't get paid til the 30th. She wanted to know if I don't sell it would I save it for her, so I'm going to tell her to bid on it anyway, and if she wins the auction it's ok to wait til the 30th to pay for it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

New top

I finished up the top I was working on, it's another hemp/cotton print one. I redrafted the pattern down to a size small. It turned out quite nice, and I'm pleased with the dyeing, too. This time I used Procion which is far superior to Dylon.

I'm reading Richard Heinberg "The Party's Over", and I may post a commentary later if it's not too depressing. I also have "Powerdown" which is supposed to give some good ideas about what can be done. However, in light of recent news about Saudi oil depletion I'm not real optimistic.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Vintage fabric and GBS II

I bid on and won this pretty vintage paisley on E-bay. I'm going to take it downstairs and maybe combine it with a tone ontone yellow I have and a navy blue. I don't know if it's going to be a skirt and top set or a dress. With it being 2 1/2 yds, there's enough to combine with denim and make a quilt if I wanted to.
After sleeping on it, I'd have to say that last night's show was the best I've seen so far. The boys were really just pumped, there was so much energy. There was a setlist published on the OKP, so I'll just copy it here:

tshialuk girls(Bob whistle intro)
billy peddle
donkey riding
when i'm up
jack hinks
walk on the moon(new)
paddy murphy
no cares (living room version again)
charlie horse
Scolding Wife
How Did
capt kidd
jackey's gin
(added impromtu) general taylor
black rum

ordinary day
(nameless new song tentatively called 1 2 3 4)
shines right through
Helmethead w/a nice little comment about chi-town hockey
runaway..with a GREAT sing-a-long before
( sing a long list: I Fought the Law and the Law Won
Summer Nights (yes from Grease!!!)
Summer of '69
and then... because we were so insanely playing right with them... Bohemian Rhapsody!!!)
Clearest Indication
con free
encore 1 was bad as i am, excursion and fortune
encore 2 Straight to Hell (GREAT NEW SONG.)

I especially liked the Tshialuk/Billy Peddle opening sequence, it's really good, and from that moment on it was pretty plain we were going to be in for a great show. The sing-a-long was great too, the audience was so into Bohemian Rhapsody, Sean remarked that they never expected the audience to just go with that and sing it all. I always enjoy Helmethead, when we saw them last year you could tell Bob was a bit tired, but not this time. There was a moment when the audience sang Happy Birthday to the band when Alan noted that they were 14 years old earlier in the week. The encores were great, Excursion/Fortune is always one of my favorites, and as Chris remarked, they "tore up MariMac". There were so many high points, it was like the show was just one long high point! Chris was impressed enough to say he'll go with us again when they come. He said he doesn't like a lot of thier original stuff, but the traditional was really good. I have to say that I like both. We met a grandmother, mom and daughter there, the grandmother was from near Placentia. We talked to them for a bit and Sio gave the daughter her e-mail address, she had remembered her camera and was taking pics. She said she would send some to Sio if they were any good. It really was a great show, I wish I was going to be in Minn. tonight for the real St. Pats day celebration!

Great Big Sea

I just wanted to say what a great show! They opened with Tishialuk Girls/Billy Peddle which kicked, and then did so many other great tunes I can't even remember. They played 2 sets and the show was about 2 and 1/2 hours. Chris stayed upstairs in the balcony, and Sio and I went down to the main floor and she weasled us up pretty close to the stage. My hands still hurt feom all the clapping. They did Excursion Round the Bay, Lukey, I'm a Rover, General Taylor, Scolding Wife, Ordinary Day, Penelope, Run Run Away, Helmethead, Old Black Rum, Drink 'er Up, which I don't think I've ever heard live before, and a couple of new songs, and a medley of stuff which were just covers, and eneded in the audience singing Bohemian Rhapsody. It was just a kick ass show and I hope some one over on OKP posts a set list. Ok time for bed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New dress and GBS

I finished this dress this last night and listed it this morning. I like the colors, and I made it bigger, which I hope helps it sell. Not every one is skinny.

GBS is tonight! I'm very excited!

Oil depletion

A troubling article in an Australian paper this morning:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Dyeing Season has Begun

Sio wanted to go up to Woodfield last night to Blicks Arts and Crafts, they were having a clearance sale. She doesn't like to drive on the expressway, so John said he'd take her. I went along and broke my nothing new rule to buy dyes. I knew I was going to buy them eventually, I had originally planned on buying them from Dharma Trading and having them shipped, but this was ok. There will be some things I need that I will have to buy new, underwear is one, dyes are another. I will continue to look for plants I can use, actually I'm kind of anxious to try the natural dyes on some of the hemp fabric I have, but here in Northern Illinois there aren't any plants to look for yet. It's been warm but only for the last couple of days. I'm figuring in April I can start again. This year I'm going to try mulberries, I know where 2 trees are.

That being said, I dyed a 3/4 yd. piece of hemp a pretty turquoise. I put in a bit of fuschia to tone it down a bit, and after it was dyed I threw in a hemp scrap and some cotton scraps. I left them all in for various lengths of time, the hemp scrap is the greenish one. I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'll probably use the big piece of hemp for another top. The small pieces will go in the scrap bag. They are all still damp in the pictures. I'm also posting pictures of Albert, he's such a handsome fellow.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sewers Block! and movie watching

With how much I screwed up everything I tried to work on in the past 2 days, I finally put all sewing projects aside and just stayed away from them. I was talking to Carla and she laughed at me and said I had sewers block! I felt like I had forgotten everything I've ever learned above the level of simple sewing, because I just kept screwing things up. I'm happy to say that today it has been a different story. I got my applique done in about 30 minutes and am ready to start sewing dress panels together. I also listed the skirt and bag for the person who is buying them from me.
I watched the End of Suburbia last night. I saw it awhile back, when I first started thinking about the repercussions of PO. It is an excellent movie that every one should watch. There are some really viable things that can be done, although as several people in the movie say, it has to be a communal solution. One person alone really won't make a difference. And that's the hard part because a lot of people don't know and don't want to know that they are living a lifestyle that will have to change, whether they want it to or not. Matt Simmons, who wrote Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy; says every one has to watch the way they use energy. And there are lots of small things that everyone can do that will add up to a big thing! Turn off stuff. If it's not being used turn it off. Walk or bike, and if it's too far to walk or bike to, then take a bus, or if you must drive, consolidate trips. Buy local, including food, whenever you can. (The food one is going to be tough, right now at the end of winter it's pretty impossible. So many of our fresh fruits and veggies come from so far away. However, as is pointed out in the movie, the age of the 3000 mile Caesar salad is coming to an end). One thing I've been talking about forever is a garden. I don't know if Oakbrook has community garden spots but Villa Park does, and I could use mom's address. The ironic thing is that I would have to be driven to the garden spots everyday because I live far enough away to make walking pretty impossible. I could maybe bike, I'd have to do a lot of riding around here first just to get used to it again. Anyway, growing fresh food for John and I would be a good thing, and healthy, too.
Then of course there is the buying only if you need it and then only buying new if there is no other way to get what ever it is that's needed. I think it's really important for people to start doing these things now, because if we don't do them now on our own, I'm afraid they will be harder to do later when it's no longer a choice to use less energy, it will be regulated instead. It's always easier to change because we want to rather than because we have to.
Another thing that I'm watching is the housing market which has tanked so badly in the last couple of years. I don't pretend to understand economics, but I've read several people who have said that if it doesn't pick up then we will end up in a recession, and that if oil production truly has peaked it will be a recession that we never come out of. J H Kunstler, who wrote The Long Emergency (another excellent book, and who has a sometimes excellent weekly blog which I am going to add a link to), writes about the US housing driven economy fairly often, and it actually makes a lot of sense to me. He also holds out a lot of hope for the future if we can relearn the way we do things. He thinks we'll have to relearn how to do everything on a local level again, and that we will have to learn to depend on our waterways and a rebuilt rail system that would run on electricity. But the car dependent suburbs will become the slums of the future. They are not close enough to any urban centers, and in most cases they haven't been built in a way which makes community building feasible. It's been suggested that maybe some of the malls could be turned into multi-use buildings, but most of the land that could be used to grow food has been turned into parking lots. Anyway, it's a lot to think about.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Celtic Applique

I have this picture of a 2 headed Celtic snake which would look excellent on a bag appliqued in 2 colors, I'm not sure exactly how I am going to accomplish this, but I think I am about to give it a try. Bias tape comes to mind, but I'm not sure I like that. Maybe I'll try 2 different fabrics and just cut at the intersections to entwine them together. They will be fused down and then satin stitched over the cuts. I don't know how it will end up looking, but I'm going to give it a try and see how it works.

I was working on a small Irish chain wall hanging and I kept screwing it up so I put it on the side but I might go back to it today. I kept putting one of the pieces on the side on the wrong way, I did it about 3 or 4 times so I finally gave up. It's made with a shamrock print, a white on white and another green print. If I get it done today I'll post a picture.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The lone runner, an unsustainable future and an experiment

I was walking to work the other day, and as very often happens, I saw a person running. Not really a big deal, but when ever I see runners it makes me think that I am not exercising at all, I only kind of watch my diet, and all in all I live a relatively unhealthy life style that will eventually come back to get me. It probably already has, I just am not really feeling the effects yet. This time though, I thought about the contemplative time that you probably get from running. Usually, it seems to me, runners run alone. Yeah I do see the whole Willowbrook track team out at the same time, and occasionally I see pairs of runners, but basically running seems to be a solitary endeavour. I only know 2 people that run; my boss and Jimmy, and they both run alone. I don't know about Mr. Skeen, I've worked with the man for nearly 5 years, and I guess I know him as well as you know someone you work with, although I think he obviously is determined and disciplined or he wouldn't run the way he does. But Jimmy I know better; I don't see him as much as I did at one time, but I read his blog, I've seen some of his plays, Jimmy is pretty introspective as well as being determined and I'll even say disciplined, at least when it comes to running. (Carla might say that's the only thing he disciplined about). How many of his ideas, his thoughts about things, his creativity, comes from that whole process of being in a solitary world when running? That in and of itself is enough to make me think that maybe this is something I should consider doing, health benefits would just be an added bonus. I know when I walk to work (which hasn't been enough, although that's about to change), it gives me time to think about things that I might not if I were riding in the car. It's something to consider.
Speaking of reading Jimmy's blog, he and Carla were just in LA. He wrote, and Carla mentioned to me, that they were stuck on the free way and both of them commented on how it made them think that this life we are living is not sustainable. Now I have to admit that for awhile there I stuck my head into the sand as far as peak oil is concerned. After thinking about all the possible repercussions and scenarios, it just became overwhelming. I couldn't deal with it anymore, at it's very worst it's a fate that is scarier than anything else I've ever read about. I wanted it to not be true which is why I turned to John and had him read some of the stuff I'd been reading. He's my reality check, if I'm flipping out about nothing he'll let me know. Well, instead of telling me to stop flipping out, he first talked about it as a problem, and then as the repercussions started sinking in he stopped talking about it too. He told me he didn't want to think about it because it was too big. Well, I have taken my head out of the sand and really tried to think about what I can do, which brings me to the experiment. Now I have thought of this before, and I know there are other people who actually are doing it. I am making a commitment to make do with what I have, if I need something to buy it used if I can, and only after I cannot get it any other way, will I go buy it new. And if I have to buy it new, I'll do my damnedest to try and find it manufactured here in the US. Melissa pointed out that buying American is probably not part of the answer, and I agree with that, but it does go back to my belief that the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs overseas and the resultant shrinking of the middle class in this country is a bad thing, and it's my little token resistance to that. I'm also going to walk to work always unless it is dangerously cold, or really dark. Since the weather is probably not going to get that cold anymore this spring (although it's been so weird, it might, which is another subject), it should cut my rides down to about 2. It will be a moot point soon, anyway, because another thing I have to do is leave Hancock. I can't in good conscience, work for a company that imports and sells goods cheaply as a result of cheap labor and cheap transportation when energy is becoming such a problem. Not to mention the fact that most of those countries probably don't have pollution controls in place so they are also guilty in the changing climate. It's kind of too bad, because lately I've really started to enjoy working there again. I look forward to going to work, I really like the people I work with; I like having Joanie around a lot of the time, it's just been fun.On the other hand, though, sometimes I want to scream at the women who can't make up their minds between the blue or green 99 cent a yd. fabric. I just want to tell them to go get in their SUV's and go home, that the way of life they are living is already entering it's death throes and they should spend what time they have left thinking about what they can save for their kids and grandkids. Yeah, it's definitely past time for me to start walking the walk. So let's see how I do.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Today is my birthday, and the girls got me an incredible costuming resource. I don't have the camera working (I didn't charge the batteries again!),so I can't take a picture, but this is a link to the book at Amazon:
The Complete Costume History / Vollstandige Kostumgeschichte / Le Costume Historique
I've only looked through a fraction of it, it's huge and will take me awhile to get through but I really like it. I'd heard of it from the historical costume sites which I sometimes visit, but I never thought I'd actually have a copy of my own. It covers history as well as folk costumes up to the time the book was written, plus it also shows accesories, home furnishings and interiors, and just lots more. It's a great reference. Thank you Melissa and Siobhan!

I got the bells for the elephant so I am going to do the applique today and if I'm lucky I'll get the whole bag done. I'd like to get it in the mail by Friday if I can.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Custom Orders and Carbon Leaf

I've been working on an order that I got from someone who saw my elephant bag on E-bay. She's also interested in a skirt in my Etsy store, so it will be a nice sale for me. I realized that I don't have anymore of the gold bells I used on the other elephant bag, so it will mean a trip to Hobby Lobby which is always fun.
Today is the 4th, and in 12 days I will be at the Riviera seeing Great Big Sea with Chris and Sio. They always put on a great show, and I look forward to seeing them so much. They are the ultimate having a good time family band. The first time I saw them though, I saw them with a band from Va. called Carbon Leaf. While Carbon Leaf definitely can hold their own when it comes to the traditional Celtic sound, where I think they really shine is in their own music. Unlike GBS, who, when it comes to their own songs, belong solidly in the category of pop music, Carbon Leaf stays much more in the folk realm, although not at all in the traditional Celtic sense, much more in their own southern mountain music way. While I think GBS will be remembered for the wonderful way they take traditional music and put a modern spin on it, Carbon Leaf should be recognized and remembered for the lyrical and very often introspective original songs they've written. One Prairie Outpost, The Boxer, Toy Soldiers, and Shine are just a few that come to mind. For me they are just the perfect level of in-between traditional music and more electric modern music. It's hard to jump from Foo Fighters or Flyleaf to Capercaillie or the Irish Descendants or Gaelic Storm or even GBS. Carbon Leaf is a nice transition, and they have a lot of talent and a lot to say.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Patchy panels

Just a short demo on foundation pieced patchy panels. I cut a piece of prewashed muslin to a tiny bit bigger than the size I want, in this case I cut it 7 1/2" x 45", I'll trim it down to 7"x43" after I've done all the patching.

Lay a patch down at one end of the muslin, right side up. I usually pin the first one down.

For the second row, I've sewn 2 pieces of fabric together to make a strip. Lay it down on top of the 1st piece, right sides together, and sew it down through all the layers.

The 3rd pic shows the 2nd strip flipped down and pressed in place. And I just keep adding pieces til my muslin foundation is covered. I don't worry if some of the pieces hang off the edge, because I'll trim them when I'm finished.

Sometimes I make little blocks of patches and then sew them to the foundation, like in the last 2 pictures.

This is one of the best ways to get rid of scraps, and I really enjoy the whole process of making random patchwork. It's a lot of fun.