On A Roll!

I’ve talked to a couple of friends that tell me they have felt the fog lift and that things are beginning to fall into place.  That’s how I’m feeling right now, like I’m not trying to swim through Jello.  Had some great news today from one of my girlfriends who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is through her surgery, and the path reports say they got all of it, and that it was contained and in stage O.  She is the poster child for early detection screenings.

Speaking of, I visited my GYN today for my annual check-up.  That ends my round of doctors for the year, starting with last fall, and my colonoscopy, stress test, physical, visit to the oncologist for my annual, my mammogram last week, and a visit to the dermatologist.  Whew!  And I’m happy to report that all is well.  Hopefully there will be a lot more happy days in the studio to come…

homepage3Anyway, I got some good feedback from my graphics designer/weaving buddy Sally, on the logo I did, plus I sent her a JPG of the whole home page.  She gave me some terrific feedback, and I tweaked the logo a bit, and changed the colors for the whole page, and I’m very happy with this latest installment.  I’ve built about half a dozen of the pages so far, I won’t upload them until I’m all ready, but in the meantime, here is the current version of the new home page.jacket1

I’m working like mad on the jacket.  This is always my favorite part.  I love making the decisions, the designing, making it all work, but my really really favorite part is to sit and sew.  I love my machine, (a Janome 6600) and my new industrial iron, a Sapporo Gravity Fed, (I had to sadly retire my old Sussman Pressmaster after about 20 years).

buttonholes1So I have most of the body together, the welt pockets in, the bound buttonholes in, and yesterday I showed something new I tried, cording the buttonhole lips, it worked great, they are nice and plump in the heavy wool, that steams beautifully by the way.  I think the piping will be a nice accent when the whole jacket is finished.  I had the exact amount, not an 1/8″ more, to go from one hem to the other on both sides.back I still have to put the left front onto the jacket, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.  And of course the black collar is the interfacing.

Off to bed.  Tomorrow is suppose to reach 50 degrees and be partly sunny.  And the winds should finally die down.  Since there is rain predicted for Thursday, I’ll see if I can get the pansies planted in the deck planters.

Progress, Finally!

I love my family, obviously, but I also love to be alone.  I  love when everyone goes off to work/school, and I’m left alone to putter around the house in the morning, tidying up, doing the next load of laundry, cleaning some part of the house, and eating alone, reading the morning paper.  I did all that, and then made it into the studio by about 9am, and continued on with the redesign of my website.  I decided to go back to the beginning of the manual, because, though I understood on a surface level, each step I was instructed to do, I didn’t get it on a really deep level, so I could ultimately think for myself.  My website will function very differently from my sister’s, and I’m really happy with what I have so far, but I’m sort of stuck because I can’t figure out how to go to the next step.  So, reading the manual from the beginning has reinforced what I already know, and cemented more of the newer things I didn’t know, and I am plodding along absorbing as much as I can in this new field of study.

headerMeanwhile, here is the logo I came up with over the weekend, I think it is really simple, and colorful and looks great across the top of the website.lining

I love the colors of the blog, and my husband figured out the hexidecimal code to duplicate the colors for my site, so there will be some continuity.  After lunch, I gave my brain a rest, I had worked through about 85 pages of the Dreamweaver manual, and I, are you ready, I actually went back to the Arctic Sky jacket, and finished cutting out the interfacing, the Ultrasuede® binding for the welt pockets and bound buttonholes, and I finished cutting out the lining.

jacketSo now I’m at the fun part.  I’m carefully fusing a weft insertion poly/rayon interfacing onto the back of each piece, and then serging around the edges.  I put in the welt pockets, I’ve never put ones in like this before, great design, they go from edge to edge of the side fronts, so you are actually cutting the side front into two pieces.

I cut the felted band apart, and inserted the natural edge of the felt into the front seam.  I have it pinned, I’m going to look at it for awhile, the black of the collar is just the interfacing, the upper collar will be the regular fabric.  I’ll need to actually sew the shoulders first, otherwise I won’t have enough length of the felt, and I don’t want a lumpy seam across the shoulder.

buttonholesSo this would be a good time to insert the bound buttonholes.  I’ve always wanted to try a corded bound buttonhole, and since the Ultrasuede® is the lighter weight variety, I pushed a crochet hook through each of the tunnels of the buttonhole lips, and pulled a double thickness of Lopi® yarn through each side.

buttonholes2So now I’m ready to stitch the buttonhole lips down, cut the fabric, and turn the lips to the other side.

Stay tuned…

Can Shakes, Birthdays and other milestones…

I’m here, I know I didn’t post over the weekend, but it sort of got away from me.  It was a busy weekend, lots of little appointments on the calendar, but was able to get into the garden on Saturday and start the process of cleaning up the place.  I started with one length of the vegetable garden, and got all that brush and debris cleared away, pulled the new weeds, and generally had fun getting really dirty.  The sun was warm, and it felt good to be outside.

I picked up my husband and son, late Saturday night from the airport.  They had an excellent adventure in Utah, and other than some wicked sunburns on their faces (resulting in raccoon eyes from the protective ski goggles) they were in decent shape.  My son of course regaled me with stories of his dangerous escapades, involving things like jumps and cliffs, way more information than I want to know…  And yes, he wears a helmet when he skis, they both do.  Not that it’s going to help when you fall off a cliff…

My husband’s birthday was Sunday.  My daughter had wrapped all his gifts from my shopping expedition on Friday, she used recycled newspaper, it is cheap and goes right back in the recycle bin when the gifts are unwrapped, so my husband got to open his gifts, and then I headed down to Morristown to my Baroque recorder consort rehearsal.  I’ve always wanted to play in an ensemble of sorts, never got to as a child.  I attended a parochial school and we didn’t have things like middle school concert band.  I took piano lessons, but that isn’t the same as being part of a group.  No one person stands out, it is about being a team.  There is a lot to learn from that experience, and I’m glad I’m finally getting my chance.  The music is beautiful, we are playing French love songs from the 1600’s.

Sunday afternoon, I sat for two hours on a bench outside the A&P in the town where my daughter attends HS.  I sat with an inkle loom in my lap, weaving away on the Key Fobs for the Frances Irwin Guild donation for the MAFA conference tote bags.  My daughter stood with a can, asking each customer as they exited the supermarket, if they would please support the music programs at Boonton High School.

Now, I know there are a lot of people out there who completely disapprove of this practice.  They say it teaches kids to beg for money.  I actually don’t completely agree.  I have spent many, many hours sitting outside of supermarkets and grocery stores, even Walmart, with my kids, (an adult always has to be present), during their years in scouts and school clubs and programs.  I’ve watched my kids develop into  confident, well spoken almost adults, who have learned to look someone in the eye, and ask for what they want, and be gracious when a donation is made, and even more gracious when the answer is ‘no’.  My daughter has a speech issue, and it is hard for her to stand there for two hours repeating a phrase with lots of “s” sounds, and keep her diction clean and understandable.  Yet she did it.  She didn’t complain, she did her job, and she represented the school well.  All these seemingly minor events in a kid’s life all add up to make them who they become as adults.  There are lots of people out there, exciting from a supermarket somewhere in America who have fond memories of their years in band or chorus and many of them will strike up a conversation with my daughter, asking about what instrument she plays and how the money is being spent.  She can hold a conversation well with a perfect stranger, (which is why there is a parent always lurking in the background) and I’m proud of her confidence and poise.

Anyway, back to me, sitting in the background on the bench weaving on an inkle loom.  Some of the supermarket workers, who didn’t speak English, and were obviously from a country where weaving is an important part of the culture, seemed thrilled to stand and watch me weave, it was probably the first time they saw a woman sitting outside a marketplace weaving, since they left their countries.  There was an unspoken bond there that was pretty recognizable.

keyfobs1keyfobs2So I finished my Key Fobs, and this morning, I cut them off the loom stitched across the top and bottom of each band, and sewed them to the key rings.

The Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association is working hard updating their website to be useful to its members, and they now have a resource page, where you can find projects and techniques.  The directions for these key fobs will eventually make their way there, but you can find the directions for the conference project from two years ago, a tissue pack holder for your purse from handwoven fabric in the projects page.


placematsThe rest of the weekend was spent trying to catch up on some things, and my daughter started weaving her first of eight placemats, she did a really good job for a new weaver, her edges were straight with no draw-in, but she did have a few difficulties with broken threads, the 10/2 warp is a bit finer than her first couple projects and she is a bit aggressive when throwing the shuttle.  She isn’t having any problem following an overshot sequence, as I suspected, and the great news is the friction brake seems to be holding and there is no slippage of the beam as she beats.

And my next big project to tackle, besides finally getting the lining and interfacing cut out for the Arctic Sky jacket, is redesigning my website.  I spent a lot of hours this weekend, working on a logo, and what I wanted the home page to look like.  I also decided I wanted a Spry drop-down menu under the header, and never having done one before, I spent a lot of nail biting, hair ripping moments trying to get it work.  And of course my lovely husband comes in so I could proudly display my accomplishment, getting this puppy to work properly, and formatted properly, and he takes one look at it and says, “You forgot a tab for the blog…”  So more hours were spent trying to figure out how to edit my now gorgeous drop-down menu to add a tab…   Dreamweaver for web design, is a powerful program and the learning curve is huge, and it isn’t very intuitive, but then again, I’m not hugely computer literate either…  Stay tuned.

Arctic Sky Jacket Cont…

The house was quiet while I sat having my morning tea, and I leafed through the latest issue of Vogue magazine, that came in the mail yesterday.  If you have an extra $4.99 hanging around, run to the nearest supermarket that carries magazines at the checkout, and grab the March issue.  It is more than an inch thick.  It is the spring Power issue I think.  I’m not talking Vogue patterns magazine (though I think that one came in as well), I’m talking the big Vogue fashion magazine, with Michelle Obama on the front cover.  The spring fashions are gorgeous, and there is no better fashion photography anywhere.  Pay special attention to the Neiman Marcus, Saks. and Nordstroms spreads.  They have some incredible cuts, and lines, and the fabrics look as if a group from the Surface Design Association came in and ran amok.  The surfaces, the textures, the fabrics, the clothing, I’m not usually a fan of spring/summer clothing, much prefer the tweeds and cuts for the fall, but these are simply beautiful.  And you will really get a chuckle of the shoes, they are like architectural works of art, that one supposedly puts on their feet, no one I know or hang with would dare, we’d all end up in the emergency room with a broken ankle, but they are amazing to look at, and refreshing for the eye.  I’m going to keep this issue around awhile.

enlargeLots of email today, lots to answer, spent awhile at the shipper getting everything in order to head to California ahead of me.  Once I finally plowed through all that stuff, I got to do what I really wanted to do, which was make progress on the jacket.  First I had to alter all the pieces to lengthen the waist, so I spliced in some additional pattern paper, and because my original pencil lines were fading, I traced everything again with a black sharpie.  I used a hunk of cardboard underneath because the pattern medium is so porous that the ink bleeds right through all over my rotary cutting board.  I had to respace the buttons as well.

layoutThe next step was to layout the pieces to make sure I would have enough fabric.  I ALWAYS cut handwoven fabric singly, you only have to try it once doubled to know that no matter how accurate you are, the underneath layer will be a couple grainlines off and then the whole left or right side of the garment will be off as well.  So I carefully layout everything, remembering to flip when I cut the opposite piece.  It was pretty clear I would have plenty of fabric, and then some (maybe enough to squeak out a little pencil skirt?)

tailors_tacksThere are a lot of pieces in this jacket.  Before I removed each pattern piece to flip for the other half, I transferred the marks with tailors tacks, which need only be one pass through since the fabric is single.  I learned a trick when I was teaching in Colorado, to use a single strand of six strand embroidery floss as the tailor tack thread instead of sewing thread which is really smooth and falls out easily.  The floss is spun in a way that it stays put much better.

spliceIn one area, the collar/front piece, which is a cut four, because the whole thing acts as a facing as well, was a fraction too wide for the fabric.  So I did my quick trick of taking a hunk of selvedge from another area, and whipping it together with the other selvedge, and violá, instant wider fabric!  Handwoven selvedges are really easy to butt, and they are really invisible unless you have messy selvedges.

cutI still have to cut the lining and the interfacing, I’ll interface the entire garment with a fusible, which one I’m not sure since I still have to test on some scraps, but I assembled all the elements I have so far for the jacket.  I found a half yard of navy blue Ultrasuede that I’ll use for the lips of the bound buttonholes, and the welt pockets, and I have tons of floss in the same color as the felt belt I want to cut up for piping, in case I decide to couch some details.

pipingThanks for all your great comments about the lines of the felt/piping, I should say that I am rather embarassed, I got so carried away in Photoshop I failed to notice that the princess lines come from the shoulder, not the middle of the sleeve, so in fact the piping line comes straight over the shoulder and I think will give a great line to the jacket.  It is one of those things that I won’t know until I actually sew the thing, worst case is I hate it and take it apart.  You can do that with sewing.  I do it a lot…