We are all going to hate that word, other than the Q, all the rest of the letters are only worth one point in Scrabble, except for maybe the D, that might be worth 2 points.  Now if it were to sit on a triple score…

No, I’m not sewing masks.  I’m not ruling it out, but kind friends keep texting me assuming I’m making hundreds of masks and honestly I’m not.  There are a number of reasons, but mostly I don’t have supplies, all of the fabric we could have used, was used a couple months ago to make Joey Pouches for the marsupials in Australia. I’d have to go out and purchase supplies, which I understand are hard to come by, or cut up existing clothing.   I’m not leaving my house, so I don’t need a mask, and for the brief run to the post office to drop off a prepaid box, I reused an n-95 mask I have in the dye studio.  I’m feeling guilty to not be part of the “war” effort, but I sort of feel like the best thing I can do is not become another statistic and clog up the already overwhelmed health care facilities around the state.  NJ is hurting and I’m trying to stay out of everyone’s way.  My son, who works as an exec at Target, their highest volume store in the region, comes home glazed and exhausted.  It just doesn’t end.  He is military trained to do his job, carry on in extreme conditions and he wouldn’t think of doing anything less than 300%.  I’m very proud.  

And so I sit in my new basement studio, far away from the noise and constant barrage of bad news.  I check my phone for emails, but stay away from “breaking news” and facebook.  I know fear, anyone who has survived cancer does, and next to worry, it is probably the most unproductive of all emotions, especially when you become paralyzed.    And so I take the news in very small doses, NJ has the second largest amount of Covid 19 cases, and of course more than 600 deaths, which rises hourly.  And I hide in the basement and sew.

This is the fabric I wanted to sew.  Handwoven, one of my favorites to date.  I have three gorgeous caviar leather skins I bought in NYC a number of years ago, and thought of a leather yoke and sleeves, also wanting to test my swing dress pattern with drafted sleeves.  I realized that the leather has to be detachable, because well duh, you can’t wash it…

So I started with a test garment or prototype.  This is a lovely piece of wool suiting and I had enough Ultrasuede to simulate what my idea was in my head.  I had hoped to use the natural edge of the leather skins, and looking at the prototype, I needed to show more yoke because there was no way to capture the lower shape and have that contour match the skins I had.  

Anyway, my daughter took one look and said, wow, that looks frumpy, cut the sleeves shorter.  So I did, and I finished the dress and I tried it on and I actually think it is cute!

So I started in on the real dress.  I laid out the front with the cut out leather yoke keeping the natural edge, and I’m not sure what I think… yes the dress has pockets…

So I plowed ahead…

The dress needs a ton of handwork and the yoke isn’t completely resolved, there needs to be a back closure and the neck isn’t finished, still mulling over how I want to handle that, and I still don’t know what I think.  Part of me loves the contrast of the two mediums, unfinished leather and handwoven fabric, and part of me hates it because I’m such a finisher.  I’ll finish the handwork on the dress and then try it on and see, often it looks much different on the body.

The good news is, I have enough left over of both the handwoven and the leather to create another one of these, my favorite vest, copied from a ready to wear chambray vest I bought off a sale rack a huge amount of years ago.  The leather was originally purchased to make one of these, and the vest shown was the prototype for the leather vest, and I loved it so much I never went further and made up the leather.  I realize that once I make it, it is hard to clean, I’d have to send it out, but a leather vest usually needs less cleaning than a dress worn next to the skin.  And so far I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned this vest.

Meanwhile, I finally finished the Harrisville Designs Rhodora sweater, and tried it on and I love it. The yarn is Harrisville’s Silk and Wool.  Exactly what I wanted, another lovely summer top, but with short sleeves.  Most of my knitted summer tops are shells and I only have one or two other short sleeve knitted tops.  

Meanwhile, and a huge Meanwhile, Brianna finished her online class in learning Adobe Illustrator (through Udemy, if you are bored, they have all sorts of classes that are really inexpensive) and took my files of scanned patterns we did last fall at my sister’s house, and we decided to have her start with the bias top.  There are only two pattern pieces, a front and back, three if you count that there are two different fronts, one with a dart and one without.  We printed, trimmed and studied, and made notes, and decided on layouts and colors and line quality because though I have always used color to describe my sizes, not everyone can print in color and so line quality will help when printed in grey scale.  She has finished the bias top, so now I have to create the lead pages that explain how to cut out and piece together and the difference in the two fronts and how to only print the pages you need, etc, etc, etc…  

This is something I dreamed of doing way down in the future, once I stopped traveling.  Except the universe had other plans.  With my traveling curtailed for months, and my daughter working for me,  we decided that this was the time to at least explore.  In my wildest dreams I never expected that I’d have a workable plan the beginning of 2020, though in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d see the world in the current crisis, no one did, so we carry on and make use of the gift of time and try desperately to stay healthy.  

She started in on the 500 vest next, fortunately she is loving this process and project.  Her skills with Illustrator are improving hourly.  and I just approved this latest piece, this is the upper right corner of the 500 vest back.  

And in other news, I finally, finally sat in my new weaving studio and wove.  Looms get cranky when you don’t weave on them or when you move them with a warp on them, and it takes a bit to get everything moving smoothly again.  I had just put this scarf warp on last fall.

Other than the 47 interruptions from my children or the animals, like the cat sitting on the scarf as I tried to hem stitch, it was a joy to be weaving in my new studio and I want to go out and weave another one tonight…

Meanwhile, the email just came in accepting my proposal for my daughter and me to team teach a class on designing yardage at MAFA next summer (no loom required).  That seems like a world away and I have to wonder if the world will ever be the same, will we be able to meet safely and gather in large groups, will campuses even survive, will all the things and people we know and love survive this, I feel like we will be in a very different place when all of this is over.  Hopefully someone will come up with a miracle drug/and /or vaccine, and this will go by the way of smallpox or typhoid, or polio, until the next pandemic, and then hopefully we will all be prepared.  Meanwhile NY and northern NJ are ground zero once again, and we all have to stick together (6 feet apart) and face this like the warriors we are.

Stay safe and stay home everyone.  And weave, or spin, or sew, or garden, or read, or fix puzzles, or paint or draw, or do whatever it is that makes you happy.  Apparently there are no supplies in the grocery stores for bread making.  No yeast, no vegetable oil, no flour, and it makes me smile.  Who knew that baking bread could be a lifeline for so many…  (And apparently there are no puzzles to be had either…  I’ve got a huge stash if anyone is desperate, willing to share…)

Stay tuned…

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Robin Pascal
April 4, 2020 7:08 pm

I could use a few puzzles.

jodi w
jodi w
April 4, 2020 8:11 pm

I just love you, Daryl! I can hear the change in your “voice”, this forced slowdown is definitely a good thing for you. So excited about the pattern work! I did not trace off the swing dress and frequently regret that. And sleeves! Yay! Keep safe, stay happy, and looking forward to your next adventure.

April 4, 2020 8:52 pm

Love and peace and health to you and your family Daryl

Elizabeth Bryan
April 4, 2020 9:35 pm

Love the dress!! I would love to come and do another class sometime so I am fingers-crossed-hoping that one day we can all return to some semblance of normal. Meanwhile I am taking some free online cooking classes through Blueprint (free until April 16). Stay in and stay healthy! and Yay Brianna!

Teresa Ruch
April 4, 2020 9:36 pm

Washing Leather:I overdye leather and do not have a problem. Test your piece. rinse it off in warm water (leather gets stiff at over 190 F). Make sure all of it get submerged as it might water spot if only part is wetted. If you feel you need soap then use a soap for protein. should be fine but test first.

Joan Ahern
Joan Ahern
April 4, 2020 9:47 pm

Wow! I am so impressed with Brianna’s skills. She is an amazing person! Your pattern looks great. Glad you’re safe and sound and making good use of the unexpected rest period. I’m going through my piles, I’ll need a uhaul tp bring everything to charity when I can. Stay safe.

April 4, 2020 11:29 pm

Stay safe and healthy. The patterns look awesome…what a gift.

Melissa Weaver Dunning
April 5, 2020 6:23 am

Yes, the gift of time! Some days I’m very productive and some days I can’t concentrate well, but I, too am finally weaving in my new studio! And posting a song every day in April, because singing is something that helps keep me sane.

April 5, 2020 7:53 am

Yay to the patterns! Like you, I am not making masks for various reasons.
I recently made the tunic out of flannel, without placket and added pockets. It is a wearable muslin for some handwoven.

Mary Mather
Mary Mather
April 5, 2020 10:29 am

Thanks for the “permission” to take a break from masks. I have done a number and need a break.

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
April 5, 2020 10:51 am

Wow – you are really going to be able to digitize your patterns! The pattern looks great! I know you’ve wanted to do that for a long time. Good going, Brianna and Daryl. So glad you are healthy; please stay that way. And, give your son many hugs for his exhausting work right now. We need him to stay healthy and keep that store open as long as possible. So sorry for the intense numbers of people in your area who are getting the virus. Hugs to all of you,

Patricia Sole
Patricia Sole
April 5, 2020 1:07 pm

You and Brianna are a whirlwind of creativity. I love your stuff and your blog always. Stay safe and stay well.

Meg Wilson
April 6, 2020 3:33 am

I love the combination of textures: the leather yoke is stunning! And Brianna is right: the shorter sleeves are just right. Fred and I are making masks for ourselves and our neighbors who don’t sew. Since I weave with wire so often, I have a ton of wire thrums: I put them at the top of the mask to make the nose fit better. Works like a charm and should wash pretty well. We are using up some very ugly designer quilting cotton that I got for free! Much better in small doses!

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